There are many types of presentations for different business purposes. Some for reading only with basic document which can speak for itself with clear sufficient information; some for one-on-one or small group with both visual aid and verbally presenting in form of more customized proposal aiming at immediate reaction;some for large group with public speaking skills and multi-media formats in order to touch mass audience and influence the whole industries.
Product launch conference is usually the last type of presentation. Top IT companies are super good at presenting their new products and services in big conference. Microsoft Build 2017 is a typical high-standard example from which we can learn a lot about conference presentation skills.
In conference presentation, the speaker with public speaking skills is the leading role of all key elements. S/he has to well organize the information in a structure to be delivered accurately and influentially. S/he has to make it relevant with audience interest in order not to hard sell but soft sell ideas and then products. In a large conference room, audiences are easy to distract, so the speaker has to make her/himself visible with body language and interesting with humor.
In terms of effective take-away, verbal language is not enough to get the job done, especially for complicated unfamiliar abstract concept, whereas visual aid and live demonstration help audience easier to understand and memorize.
Let’s see how Microsoft uses these presentation skills in their Build 2017 conference opening and 1st and 2nd part keynote speeches to sell in developers.
A typical speech is structured in 3 main parts: opening, body and conclusion. Build 2017 conference has so many topics to cover that it breaks down into different topics with different speakers of specialization. A host has to bring all the things into a higher level to show the company’s strategy in one big trend and theme.
Host has to make a strong opening to raise up audience’s confidence on the company and keep a hook for the rest content.
Host also has to ensure all parts are well integrated with smooth transition between topics, add input to the previous one and lead in the next one.
At the end host has to conclude with call for action to motivate audience.
Ice breaker is a good chance to get closer to audience at the opening. There are many topics to start a conversation. Even as old as weather, it is everyone’s concern and easy to connect with.
Another trick is to make fun with oneself via personal joke to warm up the atmosphere. Just like the speaker talks about his limited hair and unlimited computing capability. It’s fun and down to earth, while it’s still relevant to the topic of the conference.
When the speaker leads in to the topic, he sites statistics comparison among the past, the present and the future to reflect the fast growing of technology development. It shows an exiting picture of continuous growth and opportunities for industry participants, like developer, the audience.
At the mean time, he also brings out the issue of negative side of technology by quoting the classical novel to raise a question about responsibilities for IT industry. Then he answers with his point of view as designed principals and choices to solve this problem.
The speaker implies that company mission is based on timeless value, and company is completing industry responsibilities. He smartly lifts up the company strategy to a higher level with bigger vision. He plants value into audience’s mindset before selling product.
He also connects company mission to audience interest to create meaningfulness. He points out that the company cares about and empower audiences to build capabilities. So he convinces audiences to join the company to do business together.
Besides what to say, how to say also impacts the communication effectiveness just at the beginning. 5 vocal and body language skills need to be noted:
Even in a large conference hall, audience still anticipate and feel connected with the speaker’s thru eye contact.
From speaker’s perspective, s/he makes real eye contact with people at the front, including left, middle, right sides;
Sometimes s/he also scans the crowd at the back and remote distance to let them know that attention also paid to them.
Body movement on stage
If speaker stands still at one spot, audiences at the corner have to twist neck towards one direction for a long time and get bored easily.
In contrast, if speaker move around the stage, s/he can take care of people at the wings and get them involved as their eyes and heads follow speaker.
Hand gesture can be functional, e.g. point something to guide audience’s eyes to pay attention to specific content;
It can also be expressive, e.g. open arms indicate welcome and openness to cooperation.
People love the way of story telling: e.g. a pleasant tone for a joke, a bigger volume for a key point, a higher pitch for excitement.
Speed and pause
Considering your audience is a large group, a slower speed than usual is easier to digest message, but not too slow to fall asleep.
Pause allows audience to think, anticipate and react to what speaker says
On one hand, numbers of key data like users and devices are always compelling indicators to show off company achievement and cloud platform power;
On the other hand, user number also means market potential and business opportunity which are intentionally translated by speaker to attract developers.
Further, speaker even gives out a direction of development action of how to catch up trends like conversation, AI and IoT in the cloud platform.
With the previous step-by-step concepts sell-in, then speaker comes up with the main point that company change strategy to echo trends.
He further explains 3 characteristics of the new strategy in forms of bullet points, simple message, easy to memorize, room for elaboration. Visually on PPT slide, meaningful icons (popular element) are added to illustrate bullet points. Verbally, speaker talks about a common use case in modern daily life to further elaborate one characteristic.
At the end of speaker 1’s keynote speech, he picks an example to demonstrate the company’s new strategy. Then he hands over to speaker 2 to bring the details in a natural and smooth transition.
Before bringing out product, speaker does several layers of bedding step by step:
Discuss about the technical concept of intelligent cloud and intelligent device;
Use the machine factory as example to explain why it needs an application with automatic response logic;
Introduce the name of the product;
Demonstrate how product solve automation problem by using cloud to manage device.
The working process between cloud and edge is complicated and intangible, but using info-graphic can help understanding: Use icons to replace texts to simplify message so that audience recognize instantly without spending time to read and lose speaker’s verbal message; Pair text with icon together to describe concept when it is too abstract; Use arrow and animation to indicate the process direction.
Dashboard is a more tangible way to comprehend the cloud application. It is a good format for data visualization, although dashboard pack different graphs in one screen, still visually impressive if separate each format in one slide on PPT. Translate data into column, bard, line and pie charts, or in a dial, a map form, with KPI number highlight in bigger font size, and with special color highlight. Especially when speaker switch on product deployment, the result reaction time dramatically reduces on the dashboard.
When it comes to AI for workplace safety, video is used to demo 3 use cases: appliance accident alert in factory, patient activity alert in hospital, tool location search in construction site. It describes true scenarios and the needs for safety and demonstrates how product works in story. It help audience get a sense and inspiration of product functionality.
Stage acting is more convincing because it sends out the signal that the product is NOT mere theoretical, but REAL existing tool ready for use. It builds up audience’s confidence on the company product because real-time operation demo is a big challenge to the product stability and it proves to be mature.
Finally, let’s take a look at the summary graph of all skills learned from conference presentation in Microsoft Build 2017.
Below is the PDF Slides and Video of Microsoft Build 2017.
Welcome to discuss with me. Thank you!
All field photos are screenshots sourced from the video.