Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Make a Great Software Product Keynote

A few months ago I was tasked with putting together our product keynote for LinkedIn's Sales Connect 2015. We had a new head of product we wanted to introduce as well as highlight some brand new functionality. 

Now I must admit, as a marketer, I really like putting together keynote presentations. It's always a challenge, but very rewarding to see your work on stage. Our presentation went well, except for a potentially keynote destroying technical glitch that was overcome by supreme presentation skills by our head of product. If you want the full story on how a knock knock jokes saved the keynote check out this article.

I wish this post was a step by step guide to making a great product keynote, but that would probably be impossible. Instead, you're going to get a list of resources, a few ideas and some inspiring examples to get you going.

man on stage during software keynote

Here is what I recommend…. 

First find some inspiration.
 I searched the internet for keynotes that were awesome. Also, asked our head of product and designer to share keynotes they thought were great. Here are a few we liked. 

Why not Apple keynotes? I think at this point there has been enough talk about Apple keynotes, so I did not spend much time looking at them. 

Think about what you have to work with.  A few questions you should ask yourself.

1. What's the message I want to get across?
2. How much time can I work on this?
3. What resources do I have? (i.e. designer)
4. Who is the audience?
5. What time is it at? What state of mind will the audience be in?

Tell a story. In general, I think you should tell a story right out of the gate as well as make sure there is a strong story line through the entire presentation. The first story could help set up the pain your product is trying to solve. Then another good option is to have a story about the user of your product. Don't show a list of features, but tell a story that shows the features while highlighting what they are trying to accomplish. We attempted this in our keynote that inspired this post. It's by no means a perfect example, but you can see how we tried to weave story into it. 

Make it engaging. 

There are a lot of tricks of the trade, but if your presentation is more than a few minutes, you'll need to make an extra effort to keep the audience engaged. Half way through our presentation we presented some awards to our audience members to keep the energy high. I recommend reading "Your Perfect Presentation" by Bill Hoogterp for more ideas.  Also the own the room training by Blue Planet Training was very helpful in putting together the whole presentation. 

Practice. Practice. Practice. 

If you want it to be perfect, you need to practice it many times. In our keynote after the technical glitch our head of product picked up where he left off without skipping a beat. It was because he had done the entire presentation at least 20 times. 18 of those times was in-front of me, so I was able to provide feedback each time. Nothing gives you confidence like experience. 

I hope this posts gives you a few ideas. If you feel like I missed anything, add it in the comments!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How To Get Great Work Experience While You Are In College

When I was in college, I organized a Guinness world record breaking rock paper scissors tournament as a fundraiser for my university’s entrepreneurship club. To promote the event we had a helicopter land on campus, parked a Lamborghini in the quad and got the volleyball team to act as the referees for the tournament. It was a ton of work and a ton of fun.

Would it surprise you if I told you that being in the leadership of that club and running that tournament helped put me on the path to landing a great full time job when I graduated? The skills I learned from running that tournament and the exposure to the local business community it created, helped me get my first internship. That internship led to a better internship, which led to a great full time job.

These days companies seem to have higher and higher expectations for the skills that grads have coming out of college. It is important to get good grades, but having valuable experience AND a diploma is more frequently the recipe for success when it comes to finding a job after graduation. Below are 10 ways students can get great work experience.

Picture of the omniture throwdown a BYU fundraiser

1. Do an Internship- Internships can often lead to a job or at least provide you with skills that will help you get a job later.

2. Volunteer- Getting paid is not a requirement to count as work experience. Often volunteer work can be done on a project basis or maybe over a holiday break.

3. Get involved in clubs- Don’t just go for the pizza, get involved in the leadership of the clubs that interest you. This will increase your visibility and access to the club’s network.

4. Get a part time job- Not only does it pay the bills, but can help make you be more marketable for after graduation. Try to find something that could be a stepping stone towards your post graduation plans.

5. Look beyond your current role- Leverage your current job to get exposure to other parts of the company that might interest you. Offer to help another department with a side project to learn a skill you need.

6. Work for a start up- They are often are fast moving, exciting and willing to give you more responsibility than you should have as a student.

7. Take the right classes- This could be a class that gives you hard skills, like an advanced excel class. It could also be a field study or an on campus internship. Select your classes with a future job in mind.

8. Participate in competitions- It could be a film competition or a business case competition. Often the sponsors of competitions for students are interested in hiring students. Take the chance to show them what you got.

9. Start your own business- Can’t find someone to hire you? Have a great idea? Don’t wait around. Try it on your own.

10. Teach yourself the skills you need- There are many skills that can be self taught. Read a book or watch “how to” YouTube videos. Connect with professionals that currently have those skills to get ideas how to develop them on your own time.

Those four years will be over before you know it. Don't forget to take the time now to make sure that you graduate with a diploma and a resume. Make sure that each semester, whatever you are doing outside of the classroom, is getting you one step closer to your dream job.