Apply Shake Shack's secret to your next presentation

How has Shake Shack thrived in the perilous fast-food industry? The secret: hospitality.


Derek Murray

Building presentations

Building presentations


Derek Murray

3 minutes

I love Shake Shack. On several occasions, I have waited in long lines to savor the Smoke Shack burger and the crinkle-cut fries. But I wonder: How has Shake Shack thrived in the perilous fast-food industry?

Well, I discovered the secret; and it can be applied to business presentations as well.

Danny Meyer on hospitality

This weekend I had a chance to read Danny Meyer's autobiography, Setting the Table. Danny is the founder and owner of some amazing restaurants like Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park, Tabla, Blue Smoke, Jazz Standard, and of course, Shake Shack. In his book, Danny talks about the difference between Service and Hospitality.

He says, "Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue—we decide how we want to do things and set our own standards for service. Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest's side requires listening to that person with everyone's senses, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, and appropriate response. It's about soul—and service without soul, no matter how elegant, is quickly forgotten by the guest."

Monologues vs. dialogues

He uses the restaurant metaphor to cite several examples of monologues and dialogues. Being seated at the precise time of your reservation at the exact table is good service. Delivering the right food to the right person at the right time is good service. Decanting a bottle of wine with care and grace is good service. Knowing the guest is here to celebrate a 10-year anniversary and congratulating them on the anniversary while greeting them is hospitality. Knowing the patron likes their margarita extra spicy and discussing the ways in which a margarita can be made extra spicy is hospitality. The sum of all the thoughtful, caring, gracious actions to ensure the customer feels the restaurant staff is on their side is hospitality!

Three tips to apply the secret of dialogue to your business presentations

If we can apply three principles of dialogue to business presentations we can elevate the impact. It starts with listening, with every one of our senses, to what our audience is thinking, feeling, and saying. What does the audience really want? How can I give them a gift? Then, it is about engaging the audience. It is not just about communicating our points. It is about hearing their point of view. How much have you allocated to hearing from the audience?

Finally, like all great dialogue, it is about soul. Like Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

What do you want your audience to feel at the end of the presentation?