Tips on Setting Your Franchise Convention Speakers Up for Success – Part Three – 5 Critical Logistical Details

In this third and final clip in our three-part series on Setting Your Speaker Up for Success, Troy Hazard and I chat about the 5 key elements of the physical plant and their value in maximizing your speaker investment.

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As a franchise system grows, and their events are transitioning from a home-grown family affair into a more polished and professional convention experience, the AV quote can be a little shocking. I know it certainly was for me when I created my first professional event for more than 100 guests.

When one of our pros runs into a problem on site, it’s often related to one of these 5 key areas and is a result of some cost-cutting efforts on the part of the franchisor. Troy has a great saying, “Less muffins, more microphones”. What he means by that is to find a way to stretch your dollars in other areas, not in the quality of your technology. If you are investing $10,000, $15,000 or even $20,000 in your professional speakers, saving a $1,000 to $2,000 on AV and hindering the speaker’s ability to deliver the very best possible experience for your franchisees just doesn’t make sense.

Here’s the low-down on the five key areas:

  1. Sound

Microphones: Make sure you have a second mic on the platform – a wireless handheld with fresh batteries serves three key purposes. If something goes sideways with the speaker’s lavalier mic, they can easily grab a handheld and never miss a beat. A second wireless mic can also be used by the person introducing your speaker and create a seamless transition from the introducer to the speaker. And if you need another reason to invest in a second mic, here’s a great one: pros will often want to engage the audience and with a second handheld on the platform, they can quickly jump into the audience for some fun, on-the-spot interaction. Again, don’t look at it as another expense, look at investing in a second mic as worthwhile insurance in creating a great experience for your franchisees.

Speakers: Beware of house sound. The venue’s audio speakers are often old and can create a fuzzy, muddied, garbled, and hard-to-understand sound. You are better off renting augmented sound speakers and the right speaker stacks to service ensure your audience can hear your speaker clearly. And if you are working with any kind of entertainment, they will likely require specific AV speakers as part of their AV rider to ensure their performance is a hit!

And be sure your AV tech checks and clears the frequency for your event.   It’s not unheard of for one group’s AV to trample over another’s frequency in an adjoining ballroom. Be sure and have your AV tech triple check this before your guests arrive.

Image of a soundboardSound Checks: We can’t leave the discussion on ‘sound’ for your franchise convention without talking about the importance of sound checks. Great speakers will always want to check the sound in the room far enough in advance of their presentation to make any corrections needed to ensure a fabulous session is delivered. Sound checks are critical to any professional speaker’s success. Beware of the speaker who says they don’t need a sound check. Maybe they don’t really care about ensuring a successful outcome.

2. Lighting

Don’t just rely on that house lighting – invest in stage lighting and kick it up a notch! This is another area we often see franchisors economizing on. Not having the right stage lighting can create a less than ideal audience experience and there are several reasons to invest in the right lighting.

  • You want everyone in your audience to be able to clearly see the speaker’s expressions – all of them – including all the subtle, micro-expressions that a speaker might use to put some oomph behind their message.
  • House lighting is often weak and hazy and especially in older venues, it’s not possible to see the speaker clearly from the back of the room. You’ve just made a big investment in your speaker, give them the opportunity to really shine – literally and figuratively!
  • Turn the lights UP! A good professional speaker is working hard to create an energetic connection with your group. They are watching for reactions from the audience and will adapt their presentation on the fly based on what they are seeing. If the lighting is dark and hazy, your speaker can’t ‘read the room’ and that connection can easily be broken.

3. Room Temperature

Think ‘calm, cool and collected’. One of the worst things that a franchisor can do is raise the temp when someone complains that it’s too cold. Cooler temps keep attendees on their toes and keep them more engaged. In addition, by the time the room fills up, the temp will go up and it can take a long time to get it back down again. Our suggestion is to set the temperature and leave it. Let your franchisees know to bring layers, the rooms will be set on the cool side. In fact, one of our favorite, long-time clients includes multiple reminders that the ballrooms will be on the cool side in their registration and convention confirmation packets. “Bring Layers!” is suggested over and over again so there are no surprises.

4. Stage Set

Keeping the stage clear of barriers that will impede the speaker’s movements is also an important consideration. Most professional speakers are ‘walkers and talkers’ and will ideally want a clear space to move around the stage.

If you have to have a podium for any other presenters, and it can’t be ‘struck’ (taken down or moved) before your professional presenter begins, we suggest it be placed 6 feet back and to one side. This allows your speaker to move to both sides of the platform easily. The ideal scenario is to get it out of the way and give your speaker all the room they need to ROCK IT!

Where you position your stairs also makes a big difference in how quickly your speaker can create an on-the-spot interaction with your audience. Stairs positioned off the front of the platform makes it possible for your speaker to engage quickly and get back on the stage in a seamless flow. If the stairs are on the side only, your speaker may not want to risk allowing the energy to drop by having to walk all the way around to get to an attendee they are engaging with. Stairs off the front of the platform keep the flow going.

5. Visibility

Seems pretty basic but we’ve seen this problem arise before and so thought it worth mentioning. Make sure that everyone can clearly see the presenter. We’ve had professional speakers show up at a surprising number of events where the room had pillars set throughout (often this occurs in older venues). If this is the case, the seating needs to be adjusted so that every seat has a clear line of sight to the speaker.

While we are on visibility, let’s chat about IMAG. The term IMAG is a short for “image magnification” and is industry lingo for AV professionals. It refers to large-scale theatrical or concert video projection to enable audience members seated at great distance from the stage to see details of the performer’s body language and facial expressions that could not be seen with the unaided eye. Think IFA general sessions. We suggest IMAG for any group over 300. And here’s another plus to investing in IMAG…since your AV crew is in place and shooting for IMAG, you can also easily arrange to have the content recorded for your internal use after the event (with the speaker’s permission of course.)

That’s a wrap of our three-part series on Setting Your Speaker Up for Success.

As always, we’d love to hear from you if you have additional ideas to share. We’ll add them to our Convention Tips list and recirculate back to the franchise community.

Be sure not to miss Part-One or Part-Two!

More soon…




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