How to create a visual keynote speech

I’m doing a pecha kucha keynote speech for an event called Showcase at the University of Wisconsin. This is my story of how I’m developing it. A pecha kucha is a structured framework for a presentation. It consists of 20 visual slides that advance after 20 seconds. It is only a 6:40 long speech! Some benefits of this are that the audience gets a lot of visuals and you have to get to the point quickly. It is a bit more challenging to present but could be a good model for you to use, especially if your presentations tend to look too “texty” or you don’t wrap up soon enough.

Let’s apply an innovation process to developing a keynote speech or presentation at a conference or other event. The key elements we can work with to do this are:
1. Create rapid prototypes of the speech
2. Use feedback from your target audience or clients
3. Iterate and redevelop your speech
Most of the work happens before the work. It is conversing and thinking. I exchanged emails, phone calls, and had a meeting with the organizers of the conference. I wanted to know what they wanted to achieve and why I had been recommended to them. Was there a particular content area I should include that they were expecting?

After working with them to nail down a title it was time to build the speech. Here is the innovation process I used. The first thing I did was work just with the visuals. I narrowed down and laid out 20 images that I wanted to use. I then took it to the audio level and just talked over these images while they were on my computer screen. This mattered a great deal. By actually doing it I gained insight on how it could be better organized and how to tell the story. I found where I needed more time. This was the biggest challenge.
Next, we use the innovation tools, I built a rapid prototype to share. It went from being just a series of images or a slide deck to an actual video. The 20 second transitions were recorded as a powerpoint quicktime movie. I played this and then spoke over the slides transitioning and recorded the audio. I turned this into a YouTube video and shared with people who were organizing and attending the conference. The purpose was to show them what I had developed and to get feedback and insights from them on how to make it better. This is engaging your users & clients in co-creating the speech with you. This was the first prototype speech video I created.

I sent the video to a few key people and the feedback I received from them was excellent. I found out what was working well and also gained ideas for improvement. I received validation on what I thought I should change (slow down, allow more space and focus) and found out things that I couldn’t have found out on my own…namely that another speaker was focusing on collaboration in innovation and that they really wanted me to go deeper and show them an idea generation tool. I also heard that I should stick the “SAM V” point harder. While I was getting this feedback I was in Austin, TX and saw a really engaging exhibit as South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi). It was a circus theme series of Mashup art that was funny…concepts like a Spork (spoon + fork) & El Camino (car + truck). Seeing this exhibit gave me the idea of taking something from the tech world (Mashups) and creating an idea generating tool out of it. I could show some photos of the Circus Mashimus exhibit and use story to explain an ideation tool they could use…mashup or combining. To add new though I had to cut. I was spending the most time in my first speech iteration on a Mastadon hunting metaphor story to tell the tale of collaborating to innovate. As much as I loved this story I decided to cut it to focus on this new mashup story which also integrated the feedback I received (more depth on a tool, less collabation, more time focus). Cutting that story helped me integrate three key feedback insights. It is worth it. It was time now for a new iteration of my presentation prototype. I winged a second version of the speech and turned it into a YouTube video:

As you can see developing a visual keynote speech is an iterative process that uses your own ideas at all stages and the ideas of your target users. Each iteration brings you closer to the bullseye but it takes going through this process to hit it. It is like taking a paper from a 1st draft to a 4th draft. There will definitely be at least 1-2 more iterations for me before going live with this speech at Showcase. I hope this story has helped you learn how to develop a speech or presentation using an innovation process. Above all else, like you’ve learned in the video, remember to communicate with SAM V: Stories, Analogies-Metaphors, & Visuals.

About The Author

Darin

Darin Eich is the author of Innovation Step-by-Step: How to Create & Develop Ideas for your Challenge and Root Down & Branch Out: Best Practices for Leadership Development Programs and has a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. Darin was also the president and co-founder of BrainReactions, InnovationTraining.org, and other startups. Darin gives speeches and can be hired to help your institution facilitate, create, and develop innovation programs, courses, retreats, and even conduct assessment or coach staff on developing leadership programs. Visit Innovation Training to see for yourself or email darin@programinnovation.com.