A lot has changed in keynote speaking. There’s tons of new technology, audiences are going hybrid, and businesses are working in totally different ways than a year ago.
All this had us wondering: What really makes a presentation incredible these days? Do speakers need the latest greatest technology? Or can they just fall back on good old-fashioned storytelling instincts? TL:DR — Both work, and more! To help get you started, here are our top five tips to make your keynote (or any presentation) stand out from all the rest.
Thank the audience for being awesome.
Twillo CEO Jeff Lawson began his keynote at the 2021 Signal conference by thanking the crowd for being there. He then talked about how truly important they all are to the Signal community.
It sounds obvious, but attendees are one of the main reasons we can even have events. They bring their energy and ideas. After this last year, we understand the importance of them just being there. Virtually, in-person, however. Attendees keep us all going.
Try to touch on all of this at some point in your presentation. Not as a way of talking about the past, but instead to segue into what the future holds. Showcase how they are all part of it. It may sound sappy, but people always appreciate a heartfelt message.
Animate the big ideas.
The Austin Film Festival created a short animation to introduce Bill Hader and Alec Berg before their panel on writing HBO’s Barry.
The animation uses portions of the interview audio to turn Alec’s Berg voice into a compelling animation. Austin Film Festival also uses this same animation style throughout their festival for thumbnails, previews, and any other ways to highlight original material.
Animations can help you instantaneously explain key ideas in your presentation. They can also humanize just about any idea, or even touch on people’s imagination. Most importantly, animation is fun, and people recognize that!
Use home movies to build interest.
Dr. Werner Vogels introduced his AWS: Reinvent 2020 keynote by incorporating home videos of him bicycling through his hometown of Amsterdam before getting into his presentation.
The videos were taken from Dr. Vogels’ helmet camera. They provided a highly personal look at how he traveled the city, and what the city looked like during a very different time for everyone around the world.
We all took videos and pictures this past year. Either on our own or as we started to venture back into the world. These personal videos and pictures can be used to tell your story and build interest and create a personal connection to the message you are trying to get across.
The combination of personal connection and video will pull people in, and get people wondering what will come next. Which is always good to do as a speaker.
Use big LED screens to create next-level presentations.
The launch event for Apple’s new AirPods took place on a high-tech hybrid event stage, alongside extra-large, 360 degree, extended reality LED screens.
We’ve written a bit about this technology in our article about hybrid venues. Basically, these giant screens can produce an infinite amount of effects and landscapes that will envelop the speaker on stage. It’s the same technology used for filming modern sci-fi blockbusters.
The biggest advantage of these backgrounds is that they are filmable. Simply point your camera at the speaker and screen to create amazing and immersive hybrid content that is just as valuable as the live experience.
Many venues are installing this feature or will have it in the future. Call around, you might find an extended reality stage close by that can help you make some truly epic presentations!
Bring virtual attendees on stage with you.
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, started his keynote by bringing several people on stage who were viewing the presentation virtually.
The virtual attendees were displayed in simple squares on a large screen to the side of the stage. They were only there for a short amount of time, but it did show the potential for the speaker and virtual audience to engage during the event.
A simple projection screen and the right virtual platform would make it easy for virtual attendees to appear on stage like this. It could create the ability for these attendees to even talk and ask questions, just like in-person attendees.
There’s a lot of talk about how to incorporate virtual and in-person audiences simultaneously, and the best answer we have is just to bring people up on stage. Regardless of if attendees are in-person or virtual, as long as the event is live the human connection will be there.
Pro Tip: Do a practice run on the event stage to make sure virtual attendees can talk and see you and everything comes in loud and clear.
Your amazing ideas will make your presentation stand out the most.
No matter what kind of high-tech or low-tech options you add to your presentation, it’s all there to make your amazing ideas that much better.
A heartfelt intro is a good way to start things off and ground the presentation. Animation is a tried and true way to highlight your big ideas. And don’t forget to talk directly to both your in-person and virtual audience. People are there to hear you. So own that all the way!