Why Celebrity Speakers Fail at Franchise Conventions

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Personally, I have a big aversion to recommending most celebrity speakers for any franchise convention.

I think that there are very few ‘celebrity status’ presenters out there who get that they are being paid to actually connect with and serve their audiences. Too many times the strutting, peacockish, ego-serving celebrity will create a miserable experience for the planner, the hotel staff, the franchisor team and completely fail to genuinely and authentically connect with your franchise audience.

In fact, this kind of behavior is what inspired us to create our “No Diva” policy  at Franchise Speakers. 

Whenever we get a request from a client for a particular celebrity speaker, the first thing we find out is why is the client looking at this person and what do they hope that a keynote presentation by this celebrity will accomplish for their franchisees. That after all is the reason for the investment, isn’t it?

The horror stories are prolific when you are in the inside of the speaking world. In fact, be on the lookout for our eBook – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Stories of how professional speakers can make or break your event to come out in the Spring of 2013.

Here’s one that recently came to our attention - a $40,000 speaker who all in one engagement publically berated a waitress in front of a restaurant full of franchisees, was physically inappropriate and crass with the production staff, sold continuously and obnoxiously from the platform throughout his session and when told not to do it, proceeded to do it again the very next day! Wow! Yes, he had a well known name but at the end of it all, that’s about all he brought to the engagement other than headaches and disspointment.

As a franchisee, I cared more about what I was going to actually learn that was going to help me run my business better than hearing someone talk about themselves.

So when a franchisor calls us and expresses interest in a celebrity speaker, I will find a gentle way to suggest we look at how we could maximize those investment dollars to create a more powerful and broad-based curriculum for the conference overall.

Using the same dollars to engage a fantastic, content-rich, keynote speaker, a selection of terrific, tactical, breakout trainers, a professional facilitator/moderator to create a positive, productive open forum or Panel of the Pro’s session, a corporate comedian to enliven and create a ‘WOW’ awards event and some kind of experiential exercise like a Board Break Experience

We can stretch the franchisor or franchise associations dollars to create a memorable, fun and engaging learning experience for attendees. 

Okay - at the end of the day, you still want that celebrity speaker?

Do yourself a huge favor and have someone who knows the speaking world talk directly to the speaker and check their references (recent and at least 3!) to get a feel for:


1. Were they more concerned about themselves than connecting to the group?
2. How were they to work with leading up to the event?
3. Were they prepared and on time?
4. Did they do their homework and put the effort into really understanding the business and the culture?
5. Did they spend more time promoting themselves and their products and services than they did connecting to the audience?

And if you still want to hire them, at least you will know in advance that you’ll have your hands full through the process and can hopefully avoid some costly mistakes by including specific clauses in your contract that outline your significant do’s and don’t's before they take the platform.

Let me know if you’d like to discuss further. We are here to help! 720-304-3710 

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1 Comment

Wow Katrina, I agree totally.

I have been coaching Franchisees, Franchisors & Business Owners generally, from bookeepers to builders,for the last 10 years, to speak from stage.

I call it my "stunning seminar" process because, like you, I believe it's about the whole conduct of the speaker, not just their delivery from stage.

I spoke recently at a franchised event along side another top speaker who just "breezed in" spoke and then left the room! Rule #1 is to "know your audience" and they nearly always want to come up and speak with and ask questions of the speaker.
My commitment to my client is that I will always be around after for a while to do this - even if I'm not staying long enough to deliver a breakout session (usually included in my fee where I can :)

I have a free download "How do you know that you have the right speaker for the job?" on my website http://www.andygwynn.co.uk & would love to deliver stunning presentations to help Franchisees achieve more in their lives & businesses.

Especially if someone wanted to hear it and learn from " a passionate Limey" :)

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