Hiring Exceptional Speakers for Your Franchise Convention

To create maximum value for your speaker investment, the first step is to choose an exceptional speaker match.

By Katrina Mitchell
The annual franchise convention is every franchisor’s opportunity to help their franchisees fall back in love with the brand. It’s an opportunity to unify your franchise team and move them toward a common goal for the year to come. 
Whether you’re an emerging franchise, investing for the first time in outside speaking talent, or an Annual Franchise 500 brand devoted to creating a high-energy and memorable experience for your franchisees, your speaker investment is likely a significant and strategic portion of your event budget. 
Finding the perfect speaker(s) to bring your key learning objectives home to your franchisees in a way that is actionable and meaningful can be tricky. How do you balance your desired investment level for this key conference element with your learning objectives and your system culture? In other words, how do you find a presenter with a personality and style that will connect authentically with your franchisees, one who can deliver meaningful content based on your desired learning objectives for the budget you have allocated?


10 Steps to Finding a Perfect Speaker Match

  1. Determine your date, time of session(s), location and budget. A prospective speaker or a bureau partner will need these basic details before they can help you get started.
  2. Identify a theme and set goals and/or specific learning objectives for your conference and for each session for which you want an outside presenter. Setting learning objectives out of the gate will help your bureau and meeting planner partners find the best possible speaker “match” for you without wasting your time with options that are not a fit. An experienced bureau partner will deliver relevant options that also fit your system culture and your budget.
  3. The right speaker can kick off your conference and set the tone for success. Understand the different types of speakers and choose the one best suited to help you meet your objectives. Some speakers are better positioned as a “rock star” opening keynoter, some will be more tactical, and some are fantastic “closers.” For example, after dinner is not the best time to program a high content speaker. Your franchisees will be more tuned in and able to retain a business message during the day. An evening spot is better suited for a short motivational message, entertainment, or humor.
  4. Start with your end result in mind. Ask yourself, “What do we want our franchisees to think, feel, say or do when this session is over?”
  5. Does your prospective speaker or bureau partner really understand your business? Listen carefully to the questions they are asking (or not asking).
  6. Before making your final decision; review recommendations, watch preview videos and check references for the speaker. Once you feel like you have a good candidate, get your team on a call with the candidate to be sure the person is the right fit. If you are working with an experienced bureau partner, it will have vetted the speaker before the options were ever presented to you. This is one reason to partner with a bureau, it reduces your time spent and creates peace of mind.
  7. Look for the presenter’s credentials and experience speaking in front of similar groups. Though subject matter experts certainly have value, they can often miss the mark if they cannot communicate effectively to your franchisees. Horror stories are not rare. Simply because someone is an expert, does not mean they have the platform skills to communicate their knowledge in a fun, engaging way or to relate it specifically to their audience. The audience should not have to enter the presenter’s world and then figure out how to relate it to their own. The presenter should bring their knowledge and experience into the audience’s world.
  8. Look for a track record on speaking to franchisees. While this is a lot like tip No. 7 above, it’s imperative that prospective speakers understand the unique nuances inherent in the franchise relationship. 
  9. Make sure your speaker is an expert at customizing (and is willing to customize) their program to hit a bull’s eye for you. Ask them. Then involve the speaker in your planning process so everyone is clear on the mission and vision of the event.
  10. Include any details regarding special room set up or AV needs, selling books or additional programs in your contract so there are no surprises at the last minute. A professional bureau will help you manage all these details up front and prevent any last minute headaches from occurring.
BONUS TIP: On your preliminary call, did the speaker talk mostly about themselves or were they genuinely interested in learning about your business and goals for the meeting? When a speaker starts out making it all about themselves, this typically does not change when they arrive on site. If you choose to work with the team at SPEAK!, we have a standard policy — we won’t work with a diva and we certainly won’t send you one.
To create maximum value for your speaker investment, the first step is to choose an exceptional speaker match. Once that is accomplished, you’ll find they will become part of your team and ultimately deliver a fantastic experience for your franchisees. 
Katrina Mitchell is the Founder & Chief Match Maker at SPEAK! FranchiseSpeakers.com, a speakers bureau exclusively serving the franchise industry. SPEAK! specializes in helping franchisors find the right speakers for their events whether it’s a dynamic keynote, tactical breakout session, regional event, or webinar.