June 23, 2020

By: Zack Kutchma – Aspiring Marketing & Brand Leader | Technologist, Entrepreneur, & Storyteller | Future “Gordon Ramsey” of Marketing

Apple has always been known for continuously reinventing the customer experience and creating some of the best experiences in the world.

On June 22, 2020, Apple made numerous big software announcements at WWDC20. This year’s WWDC Special Event Keynote was unique before it even began. It’s the first time Apple’s developer conference has been streamed exclusively online with no in-person event.

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The all-virtual developer conference beamed from an empty Apple Park. Apple introduced its new innovations including iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, macOS Big Sur, tvOS 14, AirPods Pro updates, Apple Silicon for Mac, and much more. Each massive update transforms the experience of using your favorite devices, giving you the power to do more of the things you love like never before. These updates will be available later this fall.

As a marketing student, the thing that kept jumping out to me was how Apple absolutely nailed the transition from a live event to a virtual experience. Having some extra time this summer due to the pandemic has presented me a unique learning opportunity to attend countless Webinars, Webexes, Zoom events, or as I like to call them—Corona-casts. I have found that some companies do an okay job, while others fail to really execute a virtual environment that creates an engaging and riveting experience.

The simplest way to keep an audience’s attention is to break a pattern. In other words, think different—and that’s exactly what Apple did today in its first all-virtual presentation.

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Apple CEO, Tim Cook, walked onto the stage of an empty Steve Jobs Theater on the company’s campus in Cupertino, California. He sat on a stool to address the serious issues of race, social justice, and COVID-19. After speaking for about five minutes, Cook handed the presentation over to Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi.

Federighi delivered his presentation from an entirely different studio on Apple Park. It was the first sign that this virtual meeting would be constantly changing to keep people’s attention.

By the end of the presentation which lasted nearly two hours, the audience saw 20 different speakers involved in Apple’s product development. No one spoke for more than ten minutes, and many of them spoke for just two minutes to keep the action moving.

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Apple’s virtual WWDC wasn’t just okay—it could be the future of keynotes. An innovative delivery combined with crisp and clean visuals translated to a truly captivating experience. Many people will never get the chance to visit Apple Park, but Apple’s execution today brought an immersive view of its campus into people’s homes as if you were actually there exploring.

Novelty is one way to re-engage listeners. Novelty simply means that the brain craves surprise. When the brain notices something new or unexpected, it immediately snaps back to attention. Although there are several ways of creating novel experiences in presentations, the simplest tactic is changing speakers. A new voice, a new face, and a new topic is an instant attention-getter.

The human brain is attracted to new stimuli. Social media designers have perfected this art, creating apps that almost give us dopamine hits in small doses. Tired of that TikTok video? Don’t worry. In a few seconds, you’ll get a new one. Addictive apps don’t leave you time to get bored.

In the same way, an engaging virtual presentation won’t leave you time to continually doze off into a boring pattern. If your audience sees ten PowerPoint slides in a row—all text and delivered by the same monotone voice—they’re bound to tune out. Remember, the brain is easily bored.

As events continue to gain more traction digitally, become less costly, and more broadly available, organizers will be challenged to create new, distinctive experiences, while also being forced to rethink the “authentic” networking experience.


About the Author, Zack Kutchma

Profile photo of Zack Kutchma

Zack is an authentic and highly motivated professional with extensive knowledge in business, marketing, and technology. He is an established entrepreneur who takes pride in providing the best customer experiences possible. Not only is he a passionate leader, collaborator, communicator, thinker, and doer who is relatable cross-functionally, he constantly strives towards excellence because “good enough” isn’t.

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