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!

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