Learn Presentation Skills from Top IT Conference – Microsoft Build 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Eye contact

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

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.

Vocal Variety

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Learn Presentation from Top IT Con – Microsoft Build 2017 PPT

Welcome to discuss with me. Thank you!

All field photos are screenshots sourced from the video.



Restart Painting Class

Last year I tried to find an art school in NJ to continue learning oil painting, but it turned out not enough students to even open a class. This year I searched painting class in NYC, luckily there were many choices in which I finally chose the Art Students League of New York. I studied still life painting from Karen O’Neil, who I admired as a magician of colors. I almost fell in love with her style at the first sight.

When I started my first painting, I almost forgot all the skills I learned. I had to abandoned the first draft and reworked a bigger proportion. I only painted part by part while missing the big picture of overall shade variation. I spent so much time on the details of the orange and grapes that I didn’t have enough time for the plate and tablecloth. Some thought the plate was made of paper. Anyway, better late than never.

The second painting illustrated 2 lemons and a glass bottle. Painting glass was a big challenge and a complicated skill for me. Instructed by Karen, I realized that not every details of glass should be painted, but only the essential elements were subtracted to depict a glass: incomplete lines to illustrate a rough profile rather than trying to draw all the lines; distorted image because of light refraction; only one brightest highlight and omitted others; reflection of objects in front of the glass; see through colors of the background.

I began experiment of painting different colors on the same object, a white onion on a green plate and an orange paper. I found that colors were not limited to what eyes could see from the obvious exiting colors, but also one had to use logic in the brain to think what color could contrast or complementary the existing ones.  A classmate’s approach could be a good inspiration: she use light purple as dark and bunt amber to contrast it. These 2 colors were not seen in my version. That’s probably the reason why my onion looks flat rather than 3D. And my shape was poor structured too. I comforted myself that maybe I painted a 2D balloon fish instead.

Today it was my fourth piece with a yellow cup and a green chili on a light blue and light purple paper. I think I made some progress in understanding how colors interacted with each other. The dark side of the cup, according to Karen, was neutral by the balance of the 2 colors, yellow and purple. Color reflection of light blue and light purple made the yellow dye with some green and pink. Meanwhile yellow also extended to the shadow on the papers of 2 colors. It was more interesting that green and purple immersed to each other on the chili dark part and the shadow on the paper. Some art pro friend reminded me that the color transition was not smooth enough. Next time I should come earlier to take time on the transition.

Besides practice themself, students could learn a lot by watching Karen’s demo class. She said that before painting, 6 questions should be asked in one’s mind: How light? How dark? How warm? How cold? Saturate? Neutral?  Below was the steps she took to paint a black cup. It was the first time I realized that there were so many variant colors inside a black object. If time allows, color mixing is a fun job to explore.

Well, my journey to oil painting will keep going next week!

Dessert for Feet: Snow Walk

Born in subtropical area, can’t explain how exited walking on the snow!

Wish I was the girl riding on the sleigh!

Life guard in the snow pool?

Sea gulls: chair, mine!

Geese: park, mine!

Ducks: lake, mine!

Red leaves: excuse me, have a running nose. 

The only leaves left. So lonely. 

Wood: look at my new outfit! Trendy color. 

Fantastic footprints, snowy embroidery.

Do you want to build a snow paint?

Trans-species friends hand in hand.

Line up in the sky. 

Evergreen vs Snowwhite.

Cheese and Broccoli.

Cream topping.

Decorated red!

Want snow? Snowflake sticker really helps.

Car shape icecream.

What Makes a Person Outdated?

Today, technology, empowers some people to break existing rules and set up new ones. While other people, stay away from new tech and stick to their own way.

What makes a person outdated? Technology? My experience was, not only technology, but also one’s mindset and social connection matter.

Currently I got 3 different experiences in 3 digital marketing classes. The key difference, I think, was engagement.

The engagement level of the first class was limited. At first the instructor taught step-by-step on the screen and I could follow him. But later he spoke faster and faster, and I couldn’t follow any more. I thought I was not a dump person, but I could not memorize coding syntax and they did not memorize me, either. The good news was coding syntax helped me understand digital marketing technical issues better.

So studying tech updated me to some extent, but inadequate human interaction affected how knowledge was comprehended.  While the second class experience showed that peer also played an important role.

There were many group assignments driving student to teamwork. Those young students were visual animals, creative minds and new tech early adopters. I claimed myself as an expert of power point. “Good. We can use Google Slides together!” “What?” When I worked with millennials, it was the first time I got to know Google Slides, a tool to edit power point online with others at the same time. I felt myself outdated. I had so much to learn from young students.


What I learned in the second class was perfectly practiced in the third class. We had a group capstone project. I shared a power point template via Google Slides to other teammates so that we all could work out different parts at the same time. My teammates were senior management level. It was also their first time to use Google Slides. We finished the power point earlier than other groups. I stole the knowledge I learned from young people and passed to senior people. I became not too outdated, right?

This case showed that technology really improved us. The problem was there must be someone to introduce it to you and you must open your mind to accept it. Taking a course and immersing yourself in a large study group was one approach. Sometimes even executive education was more about mind-set change than pure knowledge increment.

In the third class, the instructor asked a question. What was the most difficult part for a company to have a social media strategy that really worked? Lack of tech? Lack of Talent? Impatience? No. A CEO had a social media mind-set. That was the most difficult. Some senior managers also said they were afraid of being too old to be creative and to change.

Becoming old is a natural law. Elder generation have their advantages with more life and work experience to teach younger generation. However, senior people should also learn from young people for new experience they never have before.  No matter how old we are, we all have a kid inside us. A kid is always curious and reaching out the external world. What we can do to avoid being outdated? Stay curious, stay connected.

The Dessert Harmony in Red Henri Matisse by Venvy

Venvy’s Painting Gallery

Paintings in 2015-2016 at September Art Space, Art Loft and Canvas & Grapes:

(Copy) “Irises” – Vincent van Gogh


(Copy) “Sunflowers” – Vincent van Gogh


(Copy) “Still Life” – Giorgio Morandi


(Copy) “Gentleman of Flowers” 《花中君子》- Yu Chang 常玉


(Copy) “Landscape”《风景》- Guanzhong Wu 吴冠中


(Copy) “Jeanne Hebuterne (wearing a hat)” – Amedeo Modigliani


(Copy) “The Dessert: Harmony in Red” – Henri Matisse


(Copy) “The Promenade” – Marc Chagall


(Copy) – “WOW!” – Ye Liu 刘野


(Still Life) – “Chrysanthemum” – (Venvy) Wei Fan 范维


(Still Life) – “Hydrangea” – (Venvy) Wei Fan 范维


(Still Life) “Peony” – (Venvy) Wei Fan 范维


(Still Life) “Lily” – (Venvy) Wei Fan 范维


(Sketch) “Container” – (Venvy) Wei Fan 范维


(Copy) “Tide”


(Copy) “Zootopia”