The Strength of Weak Ties

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Keynote Address-TechForum Chicago

I'll be doing the keynote presentation at TechForum Chicago a week from this Friday. The presentation is entitled Making IT Stick, and explores the concept of stickiness, and how new innovations become internalized in what a school does and is. I've done the presentation several times now, so I'm looking forward to the leaner and meaner version that I'll do at that conference.

Being relatively new to keynotes, I've had chances to discuss the purpose and composition of keynotes with David Warlick and Hall Davidson. Both have been fantastic and have shared many ideas with me.

So now I'm asking you. When you attend a conference, and attend the keynote, what kind of presentation are you looking for? Do you look for more philosophical, or practical or a mix of both? What attributes does a good keynote have?

I would sincerely appreciated your comments.

tltechforum david jakes


  • At 6:34 AM , Blogger Simon said...

    I can speak for myself only.... But when I here a keynote I want to be enthused, inspired and motivated.

  • At 7:49 AM , Blogger Karyn Romeis said...

    As an ex-presenter of public speaking coaching, I am unable to pay attention to a presenter with poor presentation skills, no matter how well he knows his stuff. So present already ;-)

    Chat to me, don't read your shpiel. Make eye contact, speak loudly and slowly enough for me to hear and keep up, use pauses, don't assume I know what all your jargon means or all your acronyms stand for.

    Remember - your visual aids (PowerPoint or otherwise) are for the benefit of the audience, not you - so use something else to cue you. So, on that point, please spare me a barrage of bullet point slides that say exactly what you're saying out loud. If I never see another bullet point again, it will be too soon. I would rather see no slides at all. If there are to be slides, I prefer images that will reinforce the message, make it more memorable and/or give me a mental hook on which to hang the information being shared.

  • At 9:36 AM , Blogger David said...

    Karen: awesome, thanks for the comment, and I agree completely.

  • At 9:37 AM , Blogger David said...

    Simon: thanks for taking the time to comment, it is appreciated, and I think that is the fundamental purpose of the keynote.

  • At 9:46 AM , Anonymous Michelle said...

    I agree with Simon. I look for the keynote to be a bit more philosophical but overall I want it to be inspirational and motivational. I look to the breakout sessions to be more practical - something I can take and use the next day. I also agree with Karyn, I want you to be funny, and personable. No pressure though...

  • At 10:41 AM , Blogger Bob said...

    David, I was fortunate enough last week to sit and listen to a keynote talk by Marco Torres. His style is just what I am looking for as an audience member.

    Free flowing, passionate, real life and practical examples on the screen of what he is discussing orally. Fast paced, yet easy to take in the many ideas he buids around a central theme.

    Thanks for asking!

    Cheers... Bob

  • At 10:50 AM , Blogger Karen Janowski said...

    I'm interested in hearing the comments as I'll be giving a keynote presentation soon as well.
    Just heard Alan November's keynote and he combined a call to action with practical information - combined the philosophical with the practical. (I blogged his keynote.) He left me with several quotes that I would like to remember and I always want to leave a keynote engaged, inspired, and motivated.

  • At 1:54 PM , Blogger Lisa Meinhard said...

    When I go to a keynote, I'm hoping to hear big picture, visionary, get-me-excited type talks....inpsire us! I prefer it when people leave the more practical nitty-gritty to the smaller, breakout sessions. When I'm in a big audience, I want you to talk big!

  • At 2:19 PM , Blogger D said...

    Hello David, great question!

    In the wake of the "Pay Attention" presentation I recently created, I've been asked to give a keynote presentation (at the upcoming TTIX conference in June). Consequently, my question mirrors yours.

    In reading Karyn's comments above, I must say that she does offer excellent advice. Furthermore, when I view a keynote, I want to learn something new. I may have experience with the topic being addressed, but I want the presenter to add their own unique twist, engaging me, causing me to reflect, and pushing me to action.

    Speaking of action, it was after seeing David Warlick and Ian Jukes give their presentations last March that I decided to create "Pay Attention". Because of what they said, and how they said it, I was motivated to action - now if I can only motivate Mr. Warlick to return my email : ) BTW, what were the suggestions for giving a quality keynote that he gave you?

    Darren Draper

  • At 2:45 PM , Blogger Tony Karrer said...

    I agree with the comments about the expectation of inspiration and I would add that I'm looking for someone to tell me about something new BUT I also expect them to relate it to something that's useful to me.

    I recently attended an eLearning conference and saw two keynotes. Both were good speakers and had interesting content. One was on social media and the other was on change management. However, the social media person didn't connect what they said to who we are and what we do. They told us some interesting stuff, but without the connection, it seems a bit pointless. Compared to the presentation on change management which frankly would be easily connected for any audience.

    So entertain, inform, inspire, but also spend the 30 minutes with the conference organizer to connect.

  • At 2:54 PM , Blogger Mark Pennington said...

    I want to walk away with "I never thought of that!" and the feeling that if I choose I have a potential collaborator and/or mentor.

    High energy, enthusiasm for their craft, and a real desire to advocate for kids!

    and, oh yes, add me to the adverse reaction, as Karyn so apply put it, please NO Death by PowerPoint!

    Arizona ....

  • At 3:29 PM , Blogger Miguel said...

    David, what I'm looking for isn't "new, razzle-dazzle" stuff in a presentation. While that's nice, let's be honest, we all have seen tons of razzle-dazzle, cool web tools and sharing them in a keynote can be overwhelming.

    No, instead, I'd like to see you put old ideas together in ways that I never imagined before. That is, build a Star Trek communicator out of a paperclip, an old transistor radio, and human ingenuity.

    That's the kind of keynote I me see the old stuff in an extraordinary way that was there all along, but I never imagined it.

    And, with this new insight into the ordinary, I'm able to reconfigure what I have in my classroom to match.

    With appreciation for your contributions and winning personality (grin),

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the

  • At 3:31 PM , Blogger Paul Wilkinson said...

    David I want to go away with something I can do tomorrow in my classroom. Give me new website to visit a new tool to try out with my class and I'll be a happy keynote attendee. Wrap this all up in some humour and package it with insightful theory to explain why whatever it is you are talking about is important for me to take notice of.

    Ditto to Karen's comments. Do not read the slides if you are using powerpoint. Images are good. If you are using video make it short and only use really relevant bits.

    If at all possible make your keypoints available on a website for reviewing later. I do this a lot. It also means I can access keynotes from conferences I couldn't attend. You'll expand the audience for your message if you do this.

    Most of all have fun. If you are enjoying the experience that will be communicated to your audience.

  • At 7:51 AM , Blogger Dan said...

    Hi Dave.
    I have only one, simple comment to add to the many insightful responses you already have read:

    Show me something exciting and meaningful that you can DO that I can't, something that makes me want to go out and learn to DO IT too!

  • At 7:05 PM , Anonymous Jeremiah said...


    I am a history dork, so I appreciate a connection with a historical nuance of which I was not previously aware.

    A real voice -- your own.


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