January 12, 2021 by Speakers' Spotlight
Shawn Kanungo: “The Best Virtual Keynote Speaker I’ve Ever Seen”
With his one-of-a-kind virtual stage setup, endless energy, and sharp insight, Shawn Kanungo has been earning consistently high praise from our clients over the past year. The latest bit of acclaim has come in a different form though: in the pages of Forbes, where a contributor called him the best virtual keynote speaker he had ever seen.
That contributor is Kevin Kruse, the CEO of LEADx, a leadership development platform. Kruse regularly hires keynote speakers and regularly presents to audiences himself, and he admits to finding Shawn while looking for great speakers in the virtual realm to take inspiration from to improve his own presentations. Immediately wowed by a teaser reel that Shawn put together, Kruse reached out to Shawn – who, it turned out, Kruse had actually interviewed him for a podcast a few years prior – to discuss his approach.
While the piece certainly focuses up front on Shawn’s unique approach of renting out an empty theatre to stage his presentations, Kruse highlights plenty of other aspects that help Shawn engage his audience on another level.
So what can we learn from Shawn Kanungo? What “tricks” can we apply to our everyday remote meetings? Here are just a few:
- Setting: We don’t have to rent out an entire theater, but perhaps we can set up our webcam on a standup desk with a wider angle and present while standing up
- Props: Kanungo grabs two vodka bottles to make a point about branding; what props can you have on your desk ready to illustrate a story (I know I’ll start using my hourglass sand timer when talking about productivity)
- Music: Late night shows always have a band or DJ to bring some fun energy; can we have our Amazon Alexa device nearby as our digital DJ?
- Co-hosts: Even just having a colleague facilitate the Q&A segment is a big improvement over the solo “sage on the stage” approach
And the biggest “trick” we can copy from watching Kanungo’s virtual keynote is perhaps also the easiest to pull off. While he’s right about the costly signaling of presenting from an empty theater, the added benefit of this set up is that it enables Kanungo to move around, unleashing his most powerful asset: his energy and passion for his topic. That energy jumps from the theatre right into the home offices and living rooms of his audience.
Shawn Kanungo is a disruption strategist who works at the intersection of creativity, business, and technology. He has been recognized nationally and globally for his work in the innovation space after 12 years of working at Deloitte. Shawn’s mandate at the firm was to help corporate executives to better understand and plan for the opportunities and threats associated with disruptive innovation.