How many professional speakers do you know who live or work in Edmond? Google “top business speakers in Edmond, OK,” and you will have a challenging time finding speakers from Edmond, much less Oklahoma. The first few entries list speakers bureaus that help you find and book a speaker. One bureau, All American Entertainment, lists 11,500- plus professional speakers, with 21 based in Oklahoma. The National Speakers Association lists 3,000-plus members, 23 of whom are from Oklahoma. And finally, the Oklahoma Speakers Bureau has 80 Oklahomans in its list of 110 speakers.
Who are these speakers and why do they do it? What got them into professional speaking? I recently had the privilege to sit down with four professional speakers from Edmond to gain some insight.
- Greg Hawks – Owner of the Hawks Agency
- Scott Klososky – Founding Partner of Future Point of View
- Mike Crandall – Owner of Sandler Training of Oklahoma
- David Woods – Founder/CEO of Magellan Executive Partners
Three of the four speakers can be found through the speakers bureaus mentioned earlier. The fourth, David, would tell you that he is “the low man on the totem pole,” primarily because he spends the least amount of time publicly speaking compared to the other three. In fact, most of David’s speaking engagements are with his clients through Magellan, the leadership development organization he founded.
Starting out as something else
As with most professional speakers, none of these four gentlemen started their careers as speakers.
Mike spent about 10 years in sales ranging from power tools to building materials before becoming owner of Sandler Training of Oklahoma, a sales and leadership development organization.
David spent just over 23 years in leadership roles, including CEO with Ditch Witch, prior to focusing on strategic and leadership development.
Prior to starting his career as a professional speaker in 2009, Greg spent 10 years in leadership roles with Youth America and youth-based organization, and Church of the Harvest.
Scott has been involved in technology since he was 19 and founded and sold numerous tech companies, including a joint venture in the Soviet Union, which he sold in 1992.
Collectively, all four speakers have more than 50 years of public speaking experience and are experts in their respective fields.
Leaving an impression
It was apparent that all four of the Edmond speakers want to leave an impression on their audience when they speak, and they do so in a genuine and unique way.
Scott, for example, authentically wants to help people through his speaking. He uses creative aspects of sound and video to deliver a customized experience to his audience.
David shared that he is “communicating with” (versus speaking to) his audience and does so by simply being himself with humility versus trying to wow his audience with more knowledge. He also loves the storytelling aspect of public speaking.
Greg’s mission is to lift lives, and he speaks mainly from a business-to-business standpoint. He speaks to “give people new language and thoughts that have the opportunity to alter the direction of an organization.” And while he delivers the same core message when he speaks, every experience is unique and tailored to the audience.
Mike’s motivation is to connect with his audience in a way that he “is known for” for the subject matter about which he is speaking. In fact, it is one of the “Five To’s of Motivation” that he describes in his book, Motivational Management – The Sandler Way.
Connecting with their audience
If leaving an impression or impact on their audience drives our speakers, how do they ensure that they connect with their respective audiences? Stories of audience members applying the content or concepts conveyed during or after their presentations are quite common.
Greg said “getting asked back” to speak again was one sure way to measure the connection. He also appreciates hearing stories from people using the “owners-renter’s language” used in his presentations, often several years after giving those presentations.
Mike gauges his connection with the audience from the conversations he has with attendees through their questions or stories they share. He also enjoys hearing from audience members who have heard him speak in the past or have read his book.
Scott uses “clear signals” from his audience during his presentation like “how much they are looking at you versus on their (electronic) devices, how much they are laughing at things you say that are funny, how many questions they are sending you.”
Prior to the pandemic, David spoke to an audience of 500 people and knew he had connected with his audience by the number of electronic devices that went up to take a photo of his slides, which he promised to send out after the presentation.
Effect of COVID-19
Given that speakers commonly present their material in front of a live audience, it’s not surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected how these speakers give their presentations. Pivoting to the virtual world has become the norm, and all four appear to have transitioned smoothly. What started out with free webinars and info sessions quickly transitioned to monetized events, including speaking at virtual multi-day conferences.
One change, for example, is the use of support staff during a virtual presentation to help the speakers with things like reading the audience, moderating the questions in the chat, and, as Scott mentioned, “making sure the slide presentation, which is his virtual background, flows smoothly.” In fact, I was fortunate to see Scott’s virtual keynote speech for the Oklahoma Venture Forum’s annual awards luncheon in May and immediately noticed that his virtual background was his slide presentation. Scott made it seem like had been presenting in that manner for years versus months.
Mythical correlation of distance and expertise
One interesting point that surfaced during my time with the speakers was that there appears to be a mythical correlation between the distance a speaker travels for an event and the level of subject matter expertise.
For example, bringing in a speaker from New York City to Edmond for a keynote speech would draw more attendance and higher subject matter credibility than having the speaker with the same subject matter expertise come from Downtown Edmond. In fact, Greg said that, because Scott travels overseas for his engagements, I “saved the best for last” when I mentioned that Scott was my final interview for this article.
After bringing in more than 30 speakers from all over the country to speak with my CEO and executive peer groups these past four years, I can assure you that this mythical correlation is simply that — a myth. Moreover, I am confident I only scratched the surface of talented speakers in Edmond and Oklahoma. Therefore, stay local the next time you are looking for a speaker because if they are anything like the four featured here, you will not be disappointed.
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About George Glover
George serves as a trusted advisor to high-integrity CEO’s, owners, and key executives, through the CEO and Key Executive peer advisory groups he leads. With 24 years in mining, steel manufacturing and construction, George possesses broad corporate level and direct business leadership experience from privately to publicly owned domestic and multi-national companies. Having lived in the United States, Mali, Australia, Malaysia and China, his exposure to diverse leadership styles and varying team dynamics has deepened George's appreciation for effective leadership and business culture.
George holds a BS in Accounting and Finance from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Golden Gate University. George moved to Edmond in 2014 with his wife, Holly, and children, George and Caroline.