Another dot in the blogosphere?

How I prepare for keynotes

Posted on: October 25, 2016

In my Presentations page I share the more recent keynotes and talks I have done. I prefer workshops, but these are not as straightforward to conduct and present as a portfolio of work.

I have had to do talks for about ten years as a former university professor and especially now as a consultant. During this time my process has evolved and refined.
 

Stew by jeffk, on Flickr
"Stew" (CC BY 2.0) by jeffk

 
My main process is to stew, especially when I have months-long lead time. Take my recently concluded keynote, Don’t Play Games with Gamification, for SIM Global Education as an example. I met the organisers in late July and I started outlining, collecting thoughts and ideas, and organising in Evernote on 28 Jul 2016. I delivered the keynote on 22 Oct 2016. That is a three-month slow cook.

A quick scroll down my Presentations page might also reveal how the topics are quite different. Professional speakers can repeat or rehash their talks and get very well paid for them. I often come up with fresh content.

I do rehash some content and ideas to suit context and audience, and I also like reusing Google Presentation templates that are visually pleasing.

My modus operandi: Get as much background information as possible through meetings, interviews, and document analysis; visit the venue to get a feel of the room; conduct a pre-event poll; provide a backchannel and other opportunities for the audience to become participants; provide pitstops or time to reflect on takeaways.

Through all this I stir my stew, blend and extract flavours, remove what does not look right, and reduce content as much as possible. The last part of the reduction is taking out spoon-feeding elements and adding elements that require participants to feed themselves. That is something I cannot write down in a recipe.

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