Best Practices: Engaging the Speakers Bureau Online |

As we start thinking about the next replenishment of the Global Fund, many of you might be hoping to make use of the GFAN Speakers Bureau.  It remains unclear when international travel may open up again, and some are struggling with how to make use of the Speakers Bureau in a virtual environment.  While typical panel discussions can work well, there is also a sense of “Zoom fatigue” and that panel format.  In light of this, we wanted to share a successful example of online advocacy using the GFAN Speakers Bureau with a more unique format.  

I am hoping to collect and share other good ideas on virtual meetings and advocacy with Parliamentarians.  Please do share any ideas you might have! 

The event that took place included 3 speakers, 3 members of the European Parliament, a Global Fund Secretariat Staff person and 3 Brussels-based CS staff.  The call was about 90 minute long.  Parliamentarians were provided with information on the Speakers beforehand, and Speakers had bios from each Parliamentarian.  Based on the Speakers stories, CS staff prepared a short briefing outlining the key messages of the event and a set of recommendations for the Parliamentarians.

“In Conversation with… The GFAN Speakers”


  1. Everyone is briefly introduced.
  2. Breakout rooms were created with one Speaker, one Parliamentarian, and one staff person each.
  3. Speakers spent 8 minutes talking to each Parliamentarian, with time for the Speaker to share their story, and the Parliamentarian to ask questions. 
  4. After the 8 minutes, the Speaker was moved to the next room, where they had a discussion with a new Parliamentarian. 
  5. During the conversation – the Global Fund Secretariat staff was receiving messages from staff in the breakout rooms on the questions asked to the Speakers. 
  6. After each Speaker has spoken to each Parliamentarian, everyone is brought back into the same room for a debriefing sessions where each Parliamentarian and each Speaker highlight their main takeaway from the conversation, followed by a Q&A with the Global Fund Secretariat Staff person, all with the assistance of a moderator. 
  7. Ending the call and thanking everyone. 
  8. Each parliamentarian after the call was asked for feedback and to recommend a colleague that could also benefit from a future similar conversation. 

Comments on the format:

  • Three Speakers and Parliamentarians seemed like a good number to manage. 
  • Eight minutes for the time with each Speaker seemed short – 10 minutes might be more appropriate. 
  • Important to flag to the Speaker that the Zoom breakout room is closing – as it was not always noticed and can be kind of abrupt when they are moved automatically to the next room. 
  • The MEPs feedback was very positive and the focus on the Speakers stories was an important part of the format that the MEPs appreciated. 
  • Having a Global Fund Secretariat staff member on the call to address more technical questions gave more time for Speakers to share their stories and still have those technical questions answered.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, or Kasia Lemanska, who helped organize the event described above.  I can be reached at tara (at) and Kasia can be reached at klemanska (at)

Additional Documents that you may find useful: