Planners’ Favorite Speakers, 2014–Favorite-Speakers,-2014/

In our March 2014 M&C Research poll, we asked meeting professionals, “Who is the single best speaker you have heard in the past two years?” Following are their responses, arranged alphabetically by topical categories.


  • Mike Abrashoff, U.S. Navy captain; leadership, management techniques;
  • Rocky Blier, Vietnam army veteran, former NFL player; leadership, teamwork, perseverance;
  • Joel Cohen, writer, co-executive producer, The Simpsons; innovation, creativity, teamwork;
  • Barbara Corcoran, real-estate mogul, business consultant; leadership, branding, marketing;



  • Les Brown, author, radio and TV host; personal/professional growth;
  • James Earl Jones, actor; creativity, overcoming obstacles;
  • Salman Kahn, founder of the Khan Academy, providing free online education worldwide; education, personal/professional growth;,
  • Mark Kelly, former Space Shuttle commander for NASA; husband of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords; balancing career and family, how he dealt with assassination attempt on his wife and her ongoing convalescence;
  • Kyle Maynard, competitive athlete, born without hands and feet; overcoming adversity;
  • Dick Vitale, college basketball analyst for ABC Sports and ESPN; setting and meeting individual/organizational goals;


  • Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; courage, integrity and patriotism;
  • Maj. Dan Pantaleo, retired Marine Corps major; “he was one of the first responders at the Pentagon when it was hit on 9/11. Powerful speaker with a great message to businesses about leadership during chaotic and stressful situations”;


  • Walter Bond, former NBA player and business owner; responsibility and productivity;
  • Lucas Daniel Boyce, director, business development and legislative affairs, Orlando Magic NBA basketball team; overcoming obstacles, personal/professional growth;
  • Magic Johnson, retired pro basketball player; sports, overcoming obstacles;
  • Apollo Ohno, retired short-track speed skater, Olympic gold medalist; sports, personal/professional growth;


  • Andrew Evans, contributing editor, National Geographic Traveler; “he was absolutely an engaging storyteller who tied in his message to our transit conference. Everyone loved him!!
  • Dave Serino, strategist, educator; travel, tourism, meetings, social media;
  • Rick Steves, guidebook author, TV travel host; how to be a smart, independent traveler, European travel;