Four Winds Keys to Keynotes (Part 2)

In part one of The Four Winds Keys to Keynotes, we dug into the need to know your audience and what’s on their minds. We talked about budgeting for success in both time and money, and we touched on the need to “show” instead of “tell” your audience about the topics you’ll cover. Lastly, we reminded you that stories beat stats every time. In this second and final part of The Four Winds Keys to Keynotes, we’ll suggest the right mix of skills to build a winning team; a team that will lead to a hugely successful keynote that makes an impact and is memorable for years to come.

What’s a successful keynote team look like?

At a minimum, you’ll want an overall Program Manager, a Speech Writer/Coach, a Producer, a Creative/Art Director, a Presentation Designer, and a Demo Lead. For larger keynotes such as Consumer Electronics Show we’ve seen entire “departments” of people roll up under each of these managers, very similar to a film production or manufacturing facility.

The Program Manager will be the single source of contact for the executive office or speaker. Their job will be to track all the moving parts, set deadlines and a timetable. They’ll speak with the authority of the executive and often hold the purse strings. They’ll organize the entire production and source everything necessary through the other team members. They’ll have the answer to all the speaker or executive’s questions or be expected to get that answer.

A Speech Writer and Coach who can work to organize the topics while they mimic the natural style the speaker is fundamental. This lends to credibility and comfort for the speaker when they take the stage. The speaker needs to be at ease throughout the process, or what they say won’t have the desired impact. Often helping the speaker with where to stand, how to move, what gestures to make, and how to time a joke or topic is overlooked. This can be critical if the venue calls for a special approach such as presenting “in the round.” Many speakers are looking for an expert to help so it’s best to set this relationship up early in the process.

We’ve talked a lot about animation, slides, projection mapping and video testimonials but who’s in charge of making sure each of these elements is being created and going to be ready based on the timeline set by the Production Manager. That’s the role of the Producer. There may be several supporting visual elements needed for the speech, and each one could have its own production team required to make it happen on time and within budget. Driving all these elements forward and iterating as the speech development evolves is the Producer’s job.

The Creative Director or Art Director is integral to ensure that the visual language as well as branding guidelines are in place and that the entire experience is consistent for the audience at a minimum. However, there’s another aspect to what this person brings to the team that’s often under represented. As we mentioned above, differentiating how your product or message is unique is often the key to being memorable. A Creative Director approaches a topic with an unexpected viewpoint, they’ll do research and study in order to present that information or claim in an unorthodox way. This leads to your message standing out from the expected norm. This point of view can inform each aspect of the show, from how a demo is presented, to what form the information should be structured, to how a video might be shot to have a greater impact.

A Presentation Designer often works hand in hand with the Speech Writer as well as the Creative Director. This person is creating the visual language, creating presentation slides, designing projection mapping elements, and supplying graphics to the PR team for their post event press package. They’re looking for the best and most visually appealing way to present the complex information in the speech. Even if the show calls for a simple slide deck this person is pushing the boundaries of what’s technically possible in the venue so that the presenter’s information makes the biggest splash at the event while it can go on to live an extended life after the event in replay or social media shares.

Not every keynote will need a physical demonstration but when you have technical concepts or new products often a physical, on-stage demo makes the most impact. Enter the Demo Lead. This is the individual who’s spending their time learning the technology in depth. They’re often sourcing prototype products and running them through rigorous tests to extract the best possible “story.” They’re the product expert with a flair for the dramatic. Their focus is on making the technology, product or stunt perform in a way that looks effortless even when it’s not. Usually a mix of technical genius and witty repartee they’ll join the speaker on stage to support a claim by showing not telling.

Gather your team early, we recommend a minimum of three months before your event. Give them time to gel and establish a working relationship long before they’re all on-site together at the venue. Have the Program Manager determine the right cadence and attendees for meetings as you prepare for the big day. With a team like the one described here, and by following the Four Winds Keys to Keynotes from part one, your speech will have a huge impact on the live audience. Then it will reach beyond that audience through social or web enabled channels and live long after the event. Following this guide, your keynote will set the bar for quality, content and delivery for everyone else at the event.

We hope you’ve found this two-part article informative and thought provoking. We’re always interested in hearing other perspectives and experiences from each of you so please feel free to comment and share.

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