Behind-the-Scenes: How I Prepared for my #Oktane19 Keynote

Last week, we hosted our seventh-annual Oktane conference, back in our hometown of San Francisco. Each year, I kick things off with our Welcome Keynote where we share Okta’s vision and demonstrate our new products and functionality. While my contribution to the keynote happens in just an hour and a half on the mainstage, it takes months of work and countless teams to get us to that point. This year, I was particularly happy with how my keynote turned out so wanted to share what I did to prep. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look into the making of.

The below post is from Twitter and you can view the original thread here:


1) I was really happy how my #Oktane19 keynote turned out. I think it was the best we’ve done. Several have asked what I did to prep.

2) In past years the Comms team has done more upfront and brought it to me in a more “complete state”. This year I was involved earlier. This helped my eventual delivery as it was more “my voice” and I knew it better.

3) Also helped our product and engineering teams have had a kick-ass year with innovation. Lots to announce!

4) In terms of time, we had a few high level meeting these last few months but prep started seriously after March 7 earnings. We had weekly meetings then daily meetings starting 2 weeks ago. 2 hours + per day working on story, flow, content etc.

5) Here’s the outline of the flow we landed on.

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6) This doesn’t account for all the hours the ideas are spinning in my head the last two weeks. While working out, while I’m supposed to be sleeping, when I should be listening to Rox , my kids etc (sorry).

7) We had a meeting with several investors after earnings where I “floated” some of the high level concepts to see how they landed. We also had an internal focus group with various okta folks where I did a rough preso. This feedback was invaluable!

8) The last week we worked on writing out the speaker notes. These will be on the confidence monitors when I present. (See below). This is a key step. Once they are written I can begin practicing the delivery. The irony is that once you practice enough you don’t need them!

9) In parallel the demo team is nailing down the demos. They adjust as we decide what will and won’t be included. This team is awesome. We do a dry run for the board meeting week before. They nail it.

10) Thursday before , we have a “rehearsal” in the office. But I don’t really feel like rehearsing so we mostly talk through slides and notes And how to say stuff.

11) Friday we have another rehearsal. We don’t run through it all, we focus on rewriting the first section and working on nailing the product announcements.

12) Sunday as the family drives back from dinner in Napa. I practice reciting the slide order and context to my daughter who verifies on my phone. She’s impressed I’ve memorized 80 slides. I feel good I’m getting close to ready.

13) Sunday we do a quick click through on the stage at moscone west. Stage looks amazing. It’s 3 massive screens w 3 separate slide decks. I use a “story board” which shows 3 slides on 1. It also has the confidence notes. The production team worries about advancing the 3 decks

13.1) The story board and confidence notes are on confidence monitors that are on the floor in front of the stage. I can see them but the audience can’t. Trick is to not look down too much so they think you’re reading.

14) Then back to the office Sunday evening to rehearse. Split the preso into 4 sections and practice each section 2 or 3 times in a row. I have the content down so we focus on pace and energy etc. this lasts 3 hours.

15) I’m feeling good Sunday night as I click through the slides a bit by myself before bed. I make some late edits to the speaker notes.

16) Monday is full dress rehearsal. It goes great. We take the press photos at this rehearsal. I know we’re ready.

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17) There’s a massive amount of tech and people producing the show.

18) Tuesday is game day. I’m up early and get a full crossfit session in. This really helps giving me confidence and energy on the stage. Last year I didn’t do this and it showed.

19) Here’s the deck with speaker notes.

20) Here’s the video of the #oktane19 keynote.

21)Tons of great @okta folks make this happen. I really appreciate all of their talent and effort. Especially @jennakozel @PhilHeyneker the entire creative team product marketing and many many more. You rock!

22) And my parents who watched online send me this txt right after. <3

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To everyone that made this keynote come to life, thank you. And if you didn’t make it to Oktane19, I hope to see you next year at Oktane20!