Franchisees Can Connect, Influence and Succeed with Effective Communication
For thirteen years prior to opening my first franchise business, I worked (and continue to work) as a professional speaker. My earlier days were focused on motivational speaking, addressing themes like resilience, leadership, and peak performance. The art of public speaking wasn’t innate to me; it was a skill I painstakingly honed. It’s something I work on continuously.
The value of this skill became palpable when I delved into the franchise business world. As a small business owner serving a diverse clientele (I was a franchisee with Edible Arrangements), from individual consumers to other businesses, I found myself frequently in situations where I had to articulate my vision, whether it was motivating my team, wooing a corporate account, or addressing a chamber of commerce or BNI group. I learned the following public speaking techniques that proved invaluable in those situations that may also be useful for you:
1. Make it About Them, Not You
The fear of public speaking stems from worrying about what others think of you. I get nervous when my primary concern is making people like me. What calms me is shifting my focus onto the audience and how I can help them. A speech isn’t a pageant. You’re not there to prove yourself. You’re there to improve the audience. You’re there to offer ideas, stories, and solutions. Think of it as a form of customer service. Because it is.
The audience isn’t as invested in you as much as it feels like. They care more about their own circumstances. So, pull yourself out of the equation and just use your words to help them live and work at a higher level. You don’t need them to like you. You need them to like your ideas. You need them to like your products and services. Explain how what you have to offer will benefit them. Elevate your audience. It’s really the best way to elevate yourself – and your business.
2. Acknowledge Where They’re At
Discuss the status quo and how they feel about it. Show them you understand. Maybe even lead a discussion asking them to share their current conditions. You might be addressing a group of nervous new employees, or maybe you’re presenting to a gathering of business owners whom you know you can help. If you can make them feel like you get them, you’ll be more credible. Then, offer encouragement and explain how things could be better, how you might have a solution, or how you might have an idea that can improve their life or their business. Meet them where they’re at and use your presentation to guide them somewhere better.
Use your stories to engage your audience, share your humanity, and make them care.
3. Share Stories
People resonate with real-life experiences. Share anecdotes about satisfied customers who benefited from your services or dedicated employees who went above and beyond. For example, you could talk about how a particular product transformed a customer’s business or how an employee’s innovative idea led to smoother operations. A good presentation doesn’t just inform people; it makes them feel something. And if you can get them to feel things, you can get them to do things. That’s the power of good stories.
I recently attended the International Franchise Association’s Advocacy Summit and presented a program on “How to Tell Your Franchise Story.” The next day, everyone at the summit went to Capitol Hill to advocate for the franchise industry. IFA provided a document to share with members of Congress to give them the relevant information. We were there to humanize franchising, to give our business a face. That’s what stories do. Use your stories to engage your audience, share your humanity, and make them care.
4. Go Deep, Not Wide
It’s tempting to share as many ideas as possible. That could be overwhelming for your audience. It’s like drinking water from a firehouse. Rather than skimming over a myriad of topics, choose a few and delve deep. Decide on the one thing you want them to take away from your presentation, then offer just a few ways to make your case. Say less, then say it well.
5. Call Them to Action
Every presentation should have a clear goal. After sharing insights and stories, guide your audience on the next steps. If you’ve talked about how your service can help improve their business or home, clearly outline what they can do now to engage you. If you’ve discussed how wonderful your food is, tell them to visit this week to redeem a coupon. The aim is to move them from their current position (Point A) to a more informed or action-oriented position (Point B).
The Benefits of Effective Public Speaking
Public speaking is a tool that, when used effectively, can drive real change for a franchise business. By being audience-centric, acknowledging their current state, sharing tangible stories, focusing on depth, and urging actionable steps, you not only share knowledge but also inspire action. Remember, it’s not just about informing, it’s about transforming.