A few weeks back, I was invited to deliver a keynote at a college in Mumbai. Since, I have not delivered any keynote ever before, my initial gut feel reaction was to say No. And then I thought about The Flinch and stepping into uncomfortable territories and then said yes!
That was the easy part. The tough part was to put the keynote together; in a way that it goes down well with the audience and then, deliver it as well.
First week: So, I started off. Finding out about the audience, what they might be interested, what I could cover and so on and so forth. The initial part of the presentation was reviewed by a few close people and they all felt while, it was good, something was missing.
Second week: Search for the missing ingredient meant more reviews, more googling, more reading. And then I got the feedback that “I was not in it” – meaning, what I stood for and why I was delivering the keynote was not getting captured at all.
Third week: So, again it was down in the bunker trying to piece it all together and tell a compelling story. So, the little ones had to sit through my presentation practice as did a few others.
Fourth week: It did seem like it was all in place, except minor trims here and there and fine tuning. This part is a loners job where you mentally walk through each and every aspect of the details – be it colours, be it fonts, be it size and everything. Sort of like editing before the actual show.
So, yes, finally, the keynote was delivered well (more on the delivery part later) and it was a rocking success. I enjoyed every moment of it. Some lessons:
- Understand your audience
- Do your background work
- This is not easy – it takes time
- “You” have to be part of the talk
- Leave the audience with a few points to take away
- Don’t give gyaan
- Ask, provoke, make them think, empathise with them
- Practice, practice, practice!
So, that’s what I was doing for the past few weeks and yes, alls well that ends well. Will try and post the video whenever it becomes available...