- October 23, 2014
- Posted by: Topher Morrison
- Category: Business Tips, Speaker Tips
If you’ve ever met me you know I am an Apple diehard. I’ve drank the apple juice and proudly serve their cult. So this rant might seem too easy to discard as just an Apple devotee hating on yet another Windows tragedy… and don’t worry, it will be filled with plenty of sardonic comments about their inferiority to Apple. But even the most devoted Windows user has to look past their close-minded “I-refuse-to-look-at-better-options” mentality (snotty comment #1) and admit that the recent keynote releasing Windows 10 was the most pathetic demonstration of public speaking… like it was even worse than Tim Cook’s first keynote to the world when he took over Apple… and believe me (forgive me Father Jobs) it was a horrific keynote. In fact, that was the first time in Apple history that their stock dropped after a keynote, so that was pretty bad. But if Apple stocks took a dip after Cook’s keynote, Microsoft stock should have triggered the next hi-tech depression.
ExtremeTech.com described it as, “… one of the most humble, apologetic things I’ve ever seen in technology.” (Read the full article here) I’m usually never at a loss for words, but in this case, sometimes describing the train wreck can’t do it justice, you just need to see the train going off the rails.
Now if you can’t watch the whole thing because either you are too busy, or you are watching on a PC, and it’s due for your hourly crash (snotty comment #2), here’s a brief synopsis of what NOT to do in a keynote, in order of the video:
1. DON’T walk on stage without either a good introduction that incites applause, or DON’T walk on stage too late to where the applause have already died and you walk on stage with crickets (0:09 on video)
2. DON’T sit down on a stool to deliver the most revolutionary, exciting, and innovative (Well… for Windows anyway) news your company has to offer. I don’t care how tired you might be… your shareholders, customers, and viewers deserve more from you. If you want to be lazy, do it off stage. (0:16 on video)
3. DON’T start your presentation off with a deep sigh that sounds like you’d rather be anywhere but where you are right now. (0:17 on video)
4. DON’T steal catch phrases that were made famous by describing your competition and use it to describe your goal for business. Sorry Windows, “It just works” describes Apple. You meant to say, “It’s just work” for Windows I’m sure. (1:15 on video)
5. DON’T laugh at a joke, that’s not really a joke. (1:30 on video)
6. DON’T avoid acknowledging that your joke bombed or the audience will just think you are in your own world, and you don’t understand their way of thinking. (1:34 on video)
7. Oh, and another thing… and this one isn’t time specific, it’s throughout the whole video, I’ve just got to a point in the keynote where I’m bored so I’m noticing other things in the presentation I hate… DON’T wear a Madonna or Michael Jackson headset to deliver a keynote. Dust off your wallets and invest in a first-class A/V system that allows you to wear a lapel mic so your audience isn’t distracted by a big bulbous flesh colored growth on your face. The only people who have to wear big microphones covering their face are artists like Justin Bieber so he can hide his lip syncing flaws.
8. DON’T rely on teleprompters for your entire content. (2:07 on video) It’s okay to have a confidence monitor which can provide cues as to what’s on the next slide ahead, nobody expects you to have everything memorized 100%, but for crying out loud, start practicing sooner than the night before so you don’t have to keep looking down at the prompter all the time to pick up your lines. Because if you do, and you put conversational comments like, “Now, what better place to start than…” it just makes it sound like you are reading from a script instead of speaking from your heart. (2:14 on video)
9. DON’T steal your big reveal format from your new name like this speech did when they copied how Apple renamed their operating systems. (3:00 on video, more specifically at 3:17)
10. DON’T look at your teleprompter to tell you who your most important customers are… just have that one memorized so it comes across far more believable. (6:10 on video)
11. Okay I’m ready to stab pencils in my eyes and ears again.. mainly from boredom… so here’s another annoying part all throughout the presentation. If you are going to use slides, try using some images, not words. And if you have to use words, make sure it’s legible from the back row… but since a picture is worth a thousand words, if you can put some striking imagery in your slides it will make it much more engaging. This keynote is text heavy, there has only been one image and I’m nearly 25% through the keynote. Just watch how the pros do it and search for any Apple keynote… they are far more heavy on images than text… and you know what? It’s so nice to watch that even people who hate Apple watch them.
12. DON’T make a big bold claim that is so false you even choke on your words. (9:56 on video)
13. DON’T forget to tell your audience to applaud for the next speaker who is saving your butt from a dreadful presentation. Try phrases like, “Please welcome to the stage…” then start clapping yourself instead of just running off stage. (10:00 on video)
14. DON’T forget to blow your nose before you get on stage so you don’t sound congested. And if your voice is particularly nasal-like as with this next speaker, hire a speech coach to show you how to project and speak from your core so you bring some natural base into your voice. Remember, people have to listen to you; if your voice isn’t pleasant then find a way to at least make it less pleasant. (10:32 on video)
15. DON’T set the audience up for a disappointing experience. Instead of saying things like, “… we will have some rough spots and things may go wrong …” try rephrasing to something like “You are really lucky to be seeing this today, because we are so excited to bring you this information we will be demonstrating our prototype, so you can experience some of the laughs we’ve experienced in finding and catching some of the glitches we have yet to work out.” Or, perhaps even a better idea… just make sure the demo works. I realize that Windows people like to make things as complicated as possible, but there are easier and simpler ways to do things. Step one to making things simpler: Shop at www.apple.com
16. DON’T walk up to the slide presentation and point or gesture with your hand to point out something on the screen. If there is something small on the screen worth looking at, just walking up and pointing doesn’t make it any more easy to see. (13:01 on video) Instead use your slide software to blow the image up nice and big so everyone in the audience can clearly see what you want them to see. (There’s a great software by Apple called, “Keynote” It’s like PowerPoint, but looks professional, is visually stunning, and lets you do functions like I just described. Try it out.. sometimes the grass is actually greener on the other side.)
17. DON’T waste valuable time telling the audience what the next thing is that you want them to think about… if you just start talking about it, they will have to think about it… it’s how the human brain works. (20:05 on video)
18. DON’T act like something is amazing if it isn’t, and then admit that it isn’t. If you want to wow a crowd, have something amazing to say or show. If you don’t having anything particularly amazing to say, stick with toastmasters. (23:56 on video)
19. DON’T demonstrate something and then say the point of the demonstration wasn’t to demonstrate the something, but rather to drive home a separate point… just get to the point. (27:40 on video)
20. DON’T admit your team didn’t get things done in time and act like the demo you are about to show is any less amazing because it’s pre-recorded. Just deliver the pre-recorded demo and let the demonstration wow the crowd. After all, this was the most interesting part of the presentation so far, don’t act like it’s a bad thing. By contrast, it’s amazing. (32:22 on video)
21. DON’T forget to let your audience applaud after you have demonstrated something cool. (33:54 on video) If you finally have something worthy of applauding in your presentation, make it easy for them to applaud by giving a “Ta-Da!” type comment that tells them it’s time to applaud.
22. DON’T have a pre-recorded video that requires live narration unless you have the video broken down into segments that can be paused for human discussion, or simply make a voice over to accompany the video so the video matches perfectly to what you want to discuss. That’s the simpler way, but for you Windows people that like to make things far more complex, I guess you could also just rehearse your prevention around 100 times so you know that you can verbally keep up with the demo video. (34:18 on video)
23. Okay, here’s just another thing that I keep seeing in this video all the time… DON’T move around on stage like you are trying to avoid getting shot by a sniper.
24. (36:41 on video) See point # 13 again. It’s worth repeating apparently.
25. DON’T tell the audience what the intention of the keynote was for at the end of the keynote. If it isn’t painfully clear up front, then tell them what your intention is at the beginning, not at the end after they have to sit through 40 minutes of a terrible presentation thinking, “why are we here again?” (38:21 on video)
You’ve heard the age-old adage, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” I think that might have been true in an era where there wasn’t such accessibility to news and media. Nowadays, if you have bad publicity it can go viral and overshadow much of the good. This was a presentation that wasn’t prepared, lacked professionalism, and the only true service it provided was allowing pedantic people like myself to write a blog about how bad the presentation was, all the while providing a subtext about my overly enthusiastic fanatical dedication to Apple. If Apple and Harley Davidson ever combine to create a product, God help me. I’ll have to build them a church or something. But as for this keynote from Microsoft, and the design team at Windows? All I can say is I think it’s time to hit CTRL + ALT + DELETE