Speakers Who Inspire
Speakers Who Inspire

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

Your next franchise convention probably won’t hold a candlestick to a Presidential Inauguration, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for less impactful speakers.

Katrina Mitchell, founder and Chief Matchmaker o.....

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

Your next franchise convention probably won’t hold a candlestick to a Presidential Inauguration, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for less impactful speakers.

Katrina Mitchell, founder and Chief Matchmaker of the franchise-attuned professional speakers’ organization SPEAK!, has formed specific guidelines to finding the best speaker for your franchise’s annual convention.

“A speaker has to understand franchising,” she said. “A speaker may have the ability to encourage, but if they don’t understand franchising, it can be a disaster speaking to franchisees.”

As an established franchisee herself, Mitchell founded SPEAK! in 2008 with the belief that a speaker should be heartfelt, service-oriented, excited about helping businesses run better and, most importantly, not be full of themselves.

“We have a ‘No Diva Policy,’ ” Mitchell said. “You want someone that is very personable.”

Mitchell has worked with many different brands and speakers. One of them is Rick Lewis, who bills himself as the world’s funniest waiter, and who takes his own approach to connecting with a crowd.

“When a convention revolves around a meal, Rick is dressed as a waiter and disrupts the room, trips with food or spills water on people,” Mitchell notes. “Then, once he gets compassion from attendees, he jumps on stage, rips of the waiter jacket and gets people engaged.”

Lewis said that a successful keynote speaker doesn’t necessarily give a “speech.”

“I’d never call them speeches. In fact, I find speeches in general rarely memorable, so I hope never to give one,” Lewis said. “I presented at a food service conference where I was a bad ‘waiter.’ One attendee at this conference was so unbelievably kind, patient and encouraging that I pointed him out in front of 500 people and acknowledged him for being one of the kindest people I had ever met.”

Author and speaker, Mark Scharenbroich, has also been around the block when it comes to speaking. He wrote the book “Nice Bike,” to give insight to making meaningful connections on the road of life.

“The best speakers know when they are reaching an audience, or if something is off,” Scharenbroich said. “Audiences dislike ‘cookie-cutter’ presentations. A speaker must work to understand the audience, their needs, their pains and their hopes.”

Other highly acclaimed speakers, Ford Saeks and Troy Hazard, each has his own way of connecting to an audience, but the message remains the same.

“Franchisors that are planning events need to consider the value of booking high impact, quality franchise speakers, that are professionals, deliver real value,” Saeks said.

Hazard added, “My job is to connect with the individual, on a head and heart-felt basis, one on one, but still have the ability to deliver a universal message that relates to the entire group,”

Ted Marlowe, Vice President of Franchising for 1-800-Flowers, has attended many conventions and has heard many speakers. When he speaks, his goal for a successful speech echoes those who do the performing.

“I want the speaker to be able to connect with the audience at their level,” Marlowe said. “I would hope that colleagues will pick up a piece of information that they did not already know.”

Roger Murphy, President and CEO of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation, follows the trend with the objectives he hopes to fulfill by booking a keynote speaker.

“I look for a person who is very motivating and has a message to deliver that can be tied into the theme of our conference,” Murphy said. “I am not looking for a canned speech from someone who has no idea about what we do or who we are.”

The recipe for success is simple. It’s not about too much flash and it’s not about flooding the audience with too much information. It’s about tailoring your franchisees’ needs with the speaker most likely to connect with them.

“What do franchisees benefit from their conference? What do franchisors want to accomplish?” Mitchell said. “When franchisee leaves the session, what do you want them to think, say, feel and do?”

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