How to Create a Keynote Presentation?

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Steps to create the perfect framework for presenting your expertise to a bigger audience.

Here I'm going to address a question that I am often asked, specifically how best to create a keynote, an online course, or more generally, just how best to present what you are doing?

The most significant challenge in addressing this question involves merely getting started. The steps that I outline below are not an attempt to cover everything you need to do to create an excellent keynote. Instead, this is a primer for how to get started and draft the first version of your keynote presentation. Alternatively, what you should prepare if we are working together…


#1 – Finding the Topic

My biggest recommendation is that you focus the presentation on one of your strongest skills. The problem with presenting abilities in a keynote, it's difficult to assess what your skills actually are. Also, which one of these skills, would have high value for a broad audience.
Your business card might indicate that you're in sales, your resume might say you're in sales, but creating a keynote around sales is obviously just too broad. You need to be specific and focus your discussion by asking yourself, "What part of sales is it that I do better than anyone else?" In other words, don’ be afraid to be specific about what parts of these general topics that you are better, different, or can teach somebody.
A couple of good questions that I would use in an interview setting to find the right topic could be;

  • What questions do you typically receive via email?
  • When you get emails about your expertise from clients or friends, what specific information are they asking you?
  • What are they looking to get done or get answered when they send you an email?
  • If there was a headline to be written about you from, say, the last three years, what would that headline be? Again, I'm looking for external questions from the people around you?
  • Colleagues may comment on your work or just be interested in how you do your job. Ask yourself what specific part of your skillset is something you could talk about? Because delivering a keynote about sales or any other general topic will just be too complicated.

To start, jot down three skills that you know you have. Try to arrive at a specific one. The one that stands out more.
Next, you will want to pick just one. For now, go with your gut feeling, because this is a process you could do over again. Most of the time it might not be the most popular skill, it might be the nerdiest one or perhaps a quirky one, but just proceed with whatever you feel is right for now. As I said before, you can always come back and write a keynote about a different topic.
Once you have that topic ready, this is going to be the focus of the rest of the keynote.

#2 – Headlines For Your Topic

The next step is to create five to ten headlines about that particular topic. This is also something I do in my interviews. Below are five angles you can use to create this first table of contents for your topic.

First, give your audience value and grab their attention. The quick-win is the topic that can teach me something immediately about this topic. Something that can impress your audience or demonstrate something new they didn't know, coming into your keynote.
An example that I like to use is a chef who can teach beginners how to crack an egg with one hand. This is a trick that you could show people in less than two minutes. It looks cool, and most people get it right away. Quick-wins are when people learn something, and moreover, they would also be curious about what comes next.

Second, the introduction of your keynote should also contain some background info about you. On a website, everybody wants information regarding the person writing the content, and the same thing holds for a keynote. The audience will want to know something about you, even though they might already have your resume or your professional background provided in the program agenda. What you're looking for here is a story, a story that relates to your topic. One story could be how you acquired the particular skillset, or how you got this the field. Another one would be why you stayed, like something fun, something rewarding. Try to make this story personal, where you convey something about yourself that is also related to the topic of your keynote. My suggestion is that you keep the story short, make it sweet, and if you can make it funny.

Third, you should consider talking about the necessary skills that are required to excel in this area. I usually use Serena Williams course as an example. When she teaches tennis, she breaks that down into five to seven core modules. The first module involves the groundstroke. It's pretty easy to understand that if you are to teach somebody tennis, a high percentage of your serves are going to be groundstrokes. This is a skill required of both beginners and professionals, and it is necessary to practice this skill every day. So, if there's an example like this within your industry, then I suggest you include it in your presentation and provide some background about this essential skill.

Fourth, it is time to get started. Ask yourself, is there anything you need mentally or physically to acquire the skills you are discussing? For example, do you need specific tools, software, anything else?

Fifth, it may be useful to discuss some particular tricks-of-the-trade that people in the industry know, but a beginner might not fully understand. Think about presenting these suggestions.
Given all the material presented above, it should become apparent why I recommended that you keynote should only contain between five and ten headlines. Five to seven is perhaps optimal, and I think Serena Williams uses seven in her MasterClass for tennis. So really, I understand that this might feel like you're over-simplifying your expertise, but that's the whole point. We want this to be simple. We want people to remember what you told them, and quickly follow your examples and the story. It will be difficult to maintain the audience for most of the time, so it is essential to keep it simple.

Step 3 - Create 3-5 Supporting Points per Headline

Once you have your five to ten headlines, you have to explain them to the audience. Three points per headline are usually the sweet spot here, tackling questions such as the why, how, and the implications. You are not required to answer these directly, but if you were to explain this headline, try to do it in three points. Quickly just boom, boom, boom, make three points per headline and see what you come up with. At this point, you are just brainstorming, and later we will refine your description of each headline. This is essential because stories are what makes an excellent keynote. Also, that brings me to the next point…

Step 4 – Add a Personal Story per Headline

For each headline, one of your points should be a story. If you haven’t covered this already, then you will want to either replace a point or add this to your headline.

Step 5 – Explanation per Headline

Next, you will want to ensure that you provide a full explanation of all topics in your presentation. If your audience is comprised of beginners, then you need to make sure that you carefully explain everything.
Go back and re-evaluate your points to determine if additional explanations are needed. I believe that most topics need an explanation, or perhaps a graph or diagram to help provide additional information. You might have covered this already in the previous steps, but consider this a checklist item. Make sure that you good explanations for each of your headlines. Do not make the audience feel stupid by talking over their heads.

Step 6 – The Perfect Picture per Headline

It is also critical that you include pictures in your keynote. Even if you're not going to use slides for your presentation, researching the perfect picture might help clarify how you can present your points. If a picture is worth a thousand words, well, you should be able to tell a lot by finding the right image.
If your headline is clear, you could just put that keyword into an image database or in other places, just even Google, to find a good picture explaining that point. It's going to be good if your presentation includes slides, but regardless you can still convey this picture to your audience.

Step 7 – The Minimum Viable Presentation

Once you have the necessary text and pictures, you can present your slides. If you have the picture, you can make a slide deck. If not you could use your notes. The time has come to present what you have so far. At this point we want you to talk through this framework. I suggest that you enlist a friend or colleague and deliver a practice talk. What we're looking for now is just their initial reactions. You know this topic well, so with this framework, you should be able to talk for at least 15 minutes. However, time is not essential, but doing it from start to finish is. Don’t start over, just because you have a friendly audience.

So how do you get a natural reaction? Well, I am sure that you're going to feel what was good and not so good. Moreover, the audience is going to have the same impression. However, I also recommend that you record it. For all my clients, this is a requirement. You can record just the audio, but a video is the best option. If you record your presentation, you can go back and listen (and watch) to determine where you can improve.

If you consider yourself a natural born keynote speaker, you might be able to use the video or the audio after this first try. However, don’t get your hopes up…
So please use your smartphone, or any camera you have access to, but most importantly, listen to your recording.

Step 8 - Listen and Review

Critical self-evaluation of your presentation is essential. So that inner feeling I was talking about, you're going to know right away which one of those headlines where useful and which headlines were not. Sit down with a notebook, review immediately, and after getting additional feedback from your friend or colleague, then you can make changes to improve your presentation. Since you're the expert, you might be too critical, or you might be explaining an issue or a point in a way too complicated matter, so get that external feedback as well.

Step 9 - Framework Ready


In the end, you are left with a practical framework and outline for working on your keynote presentation. The most beneficial part of this is that you have bullet points for your performance, and your mind is better aligned so that you can deliver a powerful message.

You have your first version, and I'm sure that your mind is going to come up with better stories, better explanations, better examples, for which you can continue to use the framework. You can still go back and revise a few of them, and probably you should keep it simple, but you now have the structure.

Next Step - Add Emotional Trigger Points

If you're happy with what you have, the next phase is to include emotional triggers in your keynote speech. For example, by including jokes, discussing challenges, you can invoke awe-inspiring feelings and reactions. Can you add a more memorable picture?

Good luck with your presentation, and please send it my way if you think I will enjoy it.

 

 

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