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How to Prepare for A Keynote Address
Behind the scenes glimpse
How are you? I hope you’re doing well making waves around your brand narrative :)
Last Tuesday I was invited give a keynote talk at the 2023 Florida Keys Nonprofit Day down in Marathon Key.
The event was hosted by the Florida Keys Funders Alliance, which includes United Way of Collier and the Keys - Monroe, The Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, and the Ocean Reef Community Foundation.
Cathy McPhillips, a subscriber to this newsletter and also the Chief Growth Officer at Marketing AI dropped my name.
How cool is that!
In fact, soon you’ll be hearing more from Cathy as she will share her perspectives about the various ways AI is and will be impacting visual storytelling.
It’s all being percolating now for an upcoming episode of the Visual Storytelling Today podcast.
So stay tuned!
I bet you have your own process prepping for a public talk.
Here is mine.
For this keynote talk the challenge was to explain what is AI? Why now? And how nonprofits can integrate it into their daily operations.
From an earlier survey the organizers did, I learned that out of 120 attendees only 5 have ever used AI.
The event team was such a delight to work with that when we did a run through over my slides, they offered great advice on the right amount of complexity level and extra angles I should add.
Thanks Lea, Jennifer and Yuri!
True! Not always you’ll have the opportunity to do a pre-event walkthrough and that’s where your own research will become essential.
My big idea was quite simple
Ready or not AI is coming. So, here is how you can get started today.
This big idea went hand in hand with what I wanted the audience to:
Think - “Oh wow! Unlike what I had thought, AI is actually easy to use.”
Feel - Empowered and excited.
Do - “I now have a ton of ideas and know how to get started.”
After researching more about the topic and guidance from the organizers, I started drafting an outline, or a storyboard if you will.
At first pass, I came up with this storyline:
The current state of AI adoption in the nonprofit sector
The rosy future
The high stakes for nonprofits
The “dragons” affecting AI today
Base AI terminology
Demo with a nonprofit use case
Other use cases
Things to watch out for when using AI
Next, I built the actual slides and beefed up the content with a few more angles to achieve a more rounded view.
Ha! You always notice those gaps at the slide level.
Up next was the visual treatments.
At the macro level, I kept a consistent minimalistic design using my standard PPT template with VSI’s brand elements, colors and font types.
At the micro level, I used a bunch of visuals as accessible analogies to convey particular complex ideas.
Visual iconography also added an easy browse, as you know our brain processes visual information first and way faster than text.
Final clean up
We all have a tendency to pile up too much information on a slide, assuming it would free up space in our brains from memorizing lots of details.
That’s how often talking points in your notes area all of sudden sneak in to your slides, am I right here?
The rule of sticking to a single idea per slide is still golden :)
Why? Giving a talk is already a crowded media experience.
Your audience consumes information via 4 competing focus areas: your visual appearance on stage, your verbal commentary, what’s up on the screen, and any nearby attention disruptions (e.g., incoming text message or nearby chatter).
That’s why keeping your messages simple, yet impactful imho - is key.
One for the road
I also designed a one-pager AI Cheatsheet for Nonprofits that distilled the key messages of the talk.
I reviewed various AI cheatsheet templates that are quite popular these days for initial ideas. I then customized the above fully VSI-branded handout using Canva.
It was sure fun to create, I can tell you that :)
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The talk was a great experience!
I received a ton of questions from the audience for 20 minutes!
The range of questions told me that there is an “ocean of misconception” about AI being very complicated.
It started during the first part of the talk when one attendee had asked:
“I understand AI is important but where is it? How can I use it?”
That was a great opportunity for me to do a demo.
I also explained that if you know how enter a question when Googling, then AI is the same thing.
You enter your question into a similar text box but instead of receiving a ton of search results you need to sift through, with AI you get a single answer you can continue refining as if you’re chatting with a real person.
After the talk, another said “Wow! I had no idea AI could be so simple to use. I have lots of ideas now how to get started!”
Bingo! That Do Empathy Target - hit the bullseye!
I’ve always had a warm spot for the Florida Keys.
It started 30 years ago when my wife and I were grad students at the University of Florida, driving down for vacations.
To this day, now living in Miami and Key Largo being the first Key in this tropical island string - is just one hour away.
In fact, since VSI’s inception I’ve been using a distinct visual grammar in all my cover pages of my talks, taken straightly from this unique landscape.
Do you recognize this bridge?
Exactly! This is of course the Florida Keys famous Seven Mile Bridge.
I use it in all my decks because for me - beyond being a long time fan, it also conveys a simple truth in visual storytelling.
No matter what you communicate you need to establish a strong “bridge of empathy” your audience can walk on to connect with to the other side - your story.
And as you know me by now, this bridge always materializes when you allow your audience to clearly see themselves in your story.
If you recall, I covered this in:
Obviously you may have a complete different process to build your decks. That’s perfectly fine, do whatever is more comfortable for you.
But hey, maybe a few ideas here would add value to some aspects of your workflow.
Feel free to drop me a note about your approach.
See you next time.