#AppleEvent: observations on the presentation

The residual image of ‘Apple Keynote’ in most people’s minds is likely to be that of a large visual of an Apple product showcased in a dark grey screen or held in the hands of an Apple executive in the same dark grey screen as background . It has been so for years now and it is not by accident. Every little detail of an Apple Keynote presentation is planned and executed meticulously. Well, almost always (remember the glitch where a Chinese translation voice over appeared on the live stream?).

Apple Event

While watching the Apple Keynote yesterday, it struck me again that the company takes its Keynote presentations seriously and works hard in executing it. Herewith some broad observations:

Planned well in advance: according to a report in Bloomberg, preparations for an Apple Keynote event start 4 months before the event. The effort shows. Contrast this with the last minute, let’s wing it kind of approach most corporate presentations, especially the ad agency ones have. I am not saying that we all need to prepare 4 months in advance, but the pitfalls of last minute, un-planned presentations are obvious. In ad agencies, last minute panic seems inevitable for a variety of reasons: starting the process late, unclear agenda and so on.

Ownership from the top: in tech product launches I have seen online, it is common for companies to hire a celebrity or professional MC for the evening. Nothing wrong in that but a ‘hired gun’ as it were, will naturally say what he or she is asked to say but without the passion which comes from ownership. The belief in the product will be borrowed or even fake in such cases. It is not the same thing as a committed, hands-on manager speaking passionately about his or his company’s creation. That’s what Apple does so well. Senior Apple executives (including the CEO) speak passionately about brand strategy, their creations and the successes. The difference: it seems real and lends credibility, even if it is all scripted and filled with superlatives like ‘amazing’.

No bullet points: unlike typical Powerpoint slides, which are made of one headline and 15 bullet points, most slides in a Keynote have one point in bold. Even when tech specs are shown it does not look like a typical , drab list of a PowerPoint slide

Visual impact: each slide is designed to have a visual impact. The explainer videos too rely on gorgeous visuals and graphics to tell a story. Whether it is an image of an Apple Store (to drive home the point of huge traffic to these outlets) or a product feature (the slide highlighting the 4 speakers in iPad Pro is still fresh in my mind), extraordinary visuals heighten the impact and memorability.

Scripted and rehearsed: every presenter seems to have a script and it is delivered with virtually no ‘um…aah…and er…’. They seem to have killed any room for ‘extempore’ or ad lib explanations of a point. This makes the entire event look slick and professional.

Screen is the hero, not the presenter: almost all presenters seem to wear a dark shirt or T-shirt (Eddie was an exception in a bright red shirt, though!) which blends with the dark grey background of the huge screen. The result, when bright, big visuals appear on the screen, they remain in focus – not the presenter.

Just like the approach to communication on their website, there is a method to the madness in their Keynote presentation too. Any other observations on Apple Keynote presentations? Do comment in.

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