Smart gadgets were all the buzz at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Smart drones were flying around the keynote stage, smartphone apps opened smart doors, and smart cars were driving themselves. There were also some very smart business leaders delivering exceptionally buzzworthy keynote presentations.
I’ve worked directly with CEOs from major tech companies, crafting product stories for CES announcements. While I didn’t consult with the CEOs in this article, I’ve worked with enough of them to know why these speakers do what they do. Here are five tips that you can learn from CEO keynotes to knock your next presentation out of the ballpark.
Tell a story in the first two to five minutes.
Smart presenters understand the power of story to make an emotional connection to the audience. Stories inform, illuminate, and inspire. Many people think of story as something personal that happened to them. While personal stories are, indeed, very impactful, storytelling can take many forms.
For example, Ford president and CEO, Mark Fields, delivered his first CES keynote as the new head of the company. Fields began the presentation by establishing a theme: Ford is passionate about designing products to address very serious problems in major cities around the world such as population density and congestion.
“Who finds it easy to get around Las Vegas during the show?” Fields asked as the audience laughed at the obvious reference to the notorious crowds during CES week.
“It really is a challenge to get around Vegas during the show. But think about this. The Las Vegas metro area has just more than one million people. And with a population density of roughly 1,750 people per square kilometer, it puts Las Vegas at number 120 on the list of the largest cities in the world by population density. During CES, there’s an influx of another 150,000 people, most of them are concentrated right here on the strip. We put up with this for a few days. Imagine what people in Mumbai, India, face every day. More than 18 million people live in Mumbai and its population density is 17 times greater than here in Las Vegas.”
By building the comparison between something familiar—a crowded Vegas convention—with something that is unfamiliar to most of the audience—Mumbai congestion—Fields created an unforgettable story that framed the rest of the discussion.
Typical presentation slides cluttered with text would have detracted from the Fields narrative, so the first 13 slides of Fields’ presentation had no words, just photos. The photos showed the city lights of Vegas, taxi cabs, and the congestion in Mumbai. The Ford slides didn’t tell the story. The slides complemented the story.
When you’re telling a story to set up the theme of your presentation, there’s no reason to overload the audience with words and text. Try this. Limit the number of words you use on your first 10 slides to no more than 40. It will force you to tell a story using pictures, which are nearly always more impactful than text-heavy slides (If you can build the first 10 slides with no words at all, by all means try it).
Create lists of three to five key messages.
People love lists. Lists make it easier to follow a presentation, to write about it, or to tell someone else about it. Too many items on the list, however, defeat the point. I recommend sticking to three, four, or five key messages. The overall presentation can be broken up into a list or you can use lists within the presentation.
Mark Fields had two lists. First, he outlined the “four mega-trends” driving Ford’s thinking around mobility (urbanization, global middle class, air quality, and changing consumer attitudes). Later in the presentation he unveiled Ford’s three-step blueprint for its mobile offerings.
Intel INTC +0.98% CEO Brian Krzanich kicked off his CES keynote with a list. He revealed “three forces shaping the next technology wave.” They are: 1) Computing unleashed, 2) Intelligence everywhere, 3) The wearable revolution. He also announced a $300 million investment to accomplish “three things:” grow Intel’s diverse employee base, fund initiatives to support participation of women and underrepresented minorities in technology, and to increase the pipeline of women and diverse candidates entering the tech field.
Build in wow moments everyone will be talking about.
Intel’s Krzanich gave the media plenty to write about by calling out the drones, literally. While demonstrating Intel’s RealSense 3D camera, Krzanich invited members of a German company called Ascending Technologies to join him on stage as they controlled three drones. As the drones buzzed around him, Krzanich explained that the drones could avoid crashing into each other because of the depth-sensing camera on them, powered of course, by Intel.
Many presentations—especially product launches—lend themselves to a ‘wow moment.’ A creative and well-rehearsed demo generates a lot of talk and, if people don’t talk about your product, why bother?
Make your numbers pop.
One of my favorite storytelling techniques is to make statistics jump off the slide. The president and CEO of Samsung Electronics , Boo-Keun Yoon, provided a good example of this technique in his keynote when he announced that “last year Samsung delivered more than 665 million products to the hands of consumers around the world.” Most presenters would have stopped there. The Samsung CEO took it one step further and said, “This number is set to increase to about 20 devices per second.” He stood quiet for a second and then said, “There’s another 20” as the audience laughed. Do you think the members of the audience will forget that Samsung delivers 20 devices per second? Not a chance.
Share the stage.
Smart leaders share the stage. Intel’s Krzanich was joined by at least ten other speakers including Intel engineers, developers, and partners. Good presenters know that very few speakers can carry an entire hour without putting the audience to sleep. Only twelve minutes into his keynote presentations, Ford’s Mark Fields introduced Raj Nair, the company’s chief technical officer. Nair was followed by a third speaker, a fourth speaker, and yet another speaker. People get bored easily. Keep the presentation moving by introducing more than one voice.
You might never be invited to deliver an opening keynote at CES, but using these five tips in your next presentation will help you stand out from the competition.
Contributor: Carmine Gallo is the communication coach for the world’s most admired brands, a popular keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, The Apple Experience, and his latest Talk Like TED: The 9 Public Speaking Secrets Of The World’s Top Minds (named by Amazon and SUCCESS magazine as one of the best business books of 2014).