Google made headlines in May with its first fully virtual I/O developer’s conference. After cancelling its 2020 conference due to the global pandemic, the tech giant broadcast its annual event from the company’s scenic Mountain View campus May 18-20.
The three-day event launched with a two-hour keynote presentation, hosted by Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Speaking before a small, socially distanced audience, Pichai spoke of exciting developments at Google, and he invited other company executives to discuss product features and make announcements. Each presentation was illustrated with an engaging Google Slides deck.
How did the Google I/O presenters do this year? After all, we know it’s a challenge to connect with remote audiences. Were their Google presentations engaging and informative? How did they capture their audience’s attention? We took a fresh look at a few of the 2021 Google I/O keynote presentation, and this is what we learned:
Sundar Pichai’s opening
Pichai opened the event by reflecting on the past two years and the struggles the world faced during a practically unprecedented global crisis. The executive stressed Google’s role in providing access to high-quality information. Pichai was obviously well-rehearsed for the presentation, skillfully looking into the camera, practically making eye contact with his audience at home as he subtly employed hand gestures to emphasize his points. The Google Slides presentation was simple, making liberal use of white space around bold fonts and simple colors.
Pichai structured his opening presentation with a brief introduction of the various subjects and announcements to come, allowing time for applause in between topics including safety, AI and collaboration. The opening statement made it clear what audiences could expect over the next two hours while setting an overall tone for what was to come.
Javier Soltero on Smart Canvas
Pichai then introduced General Manager and Vice President of Google Workspace Javier Soltero, who announced a new development in collaboration tools, Smart Canvas. With Smart Canvas, Google is integrating its productivity suite – including cloud-based software like Docs, Sheets and Google Slides – with its Meet video service. Not only did Soltero present the topic with another simple and straightforward slide show, but during his presentation, Google illustrated the concepts with an engaging on-screen product demonstration.
Like Pichai’s, Soltero’s presentation was well-rehearsed. You definitely could tell Google’s team had practiced their speeches. Soltero’s presentation featured planned pauses to structure his talk, and he clearly conveyed his message by speaking slowly and enunciating his speech. Rather than droning on with technical information, Soltero employed storytelling to engage his remote audience, and he made Smart Canvas come to life by telling the tale of a user’s experience with the platform. The slide deck further engaged audiences, capturing and holding their attention with animations and video.
Sundar Pichai on LaMDA
Pichai again took the stage to announce what came to be one of the most buzzed-about announcements from the 2021 Google I/O conference. The conversational AI is designed to enhance the natural language understanding of Google Assistant and other voice assistants. On-screen demonstrations of LaMDA dazzled audiences as they watched on-screen conversations with Pluto and a paper airplane.
While Pichai stressed that LaMDA is still in research and development, he conveyed excitement in his description of the product’s potential. The Google Slides presentation held its audience’s attention with engaging animations that illustrated an otherwise technical process. The presentation also employed subtle humor to further engage audiences. Who wouldn’t chuckle at a conversation with a talking paper airplane?
Jen Fitzpatrick on privacy
Senior vice president for Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick used a conversational tone to connect with her audience as she spoke on the serious matters of privacy and security during the Google I/O keynote presentation. Looking directly into the camera, Fitzpatrick used controlled hand gestures to emphasize her points.
Fitzpatrick’s presentation followed an organized, bulleted structure, so audiences more easily could follow along with complex topics. She then engaged viewers with an on-screen demonstration of Google’s new password manager, followed by slides that simply illustrated her ideas with animated icons and logos on a basic white background. She summed up her Google presentation with a simple yet profound statement, “Privacy is personal.”
Matias Duarte on Android 12
Android users the world over watched from the edges of their seats as Vice President of Design Matias Duarte helped introduce Android 12. Much of the hype over the new OS focused on its design, which Duarte explained has made computers more helpful by making them easier to use. Duarte connected with his audience with a wide smile and exuberant tone of voice, and his subtle hand gestures added animation to his Google presentation without detracting attention from his speech. Duarte engaged his audience by posing the hypothetical question, “Instead of form following function, what if form followed feeling?”
Duarte’s presentation featured an animated slide deck, where he introduced the Android 12 design feature, Material You, which allows users to customize their own design features. The program was clearly illustrated using screenshots and animated icons, and Duarte left viewers deep in thought by closing with another strong statement, “We can’t wait to see what brings you joy, and what you find beautiful.”
Sundar Pichai on Project Starline
Pichai took the stage yet again to introduce an exciting new development from Google. Project Starline promises to bring video chat to a new level… a 3D level. With the AR application, users feel as if they are looking right into the eyes of their video chatting partners – and the presentation brought their thrilled excitement to life with captivating video footage.
Pichai’s Google Slides presentation featured a video collage of users’ experiences, paired with more simple yet bold titles to highlight important concepts. By employing visual storytelling to communicate users’ experiences with Project Startline, Pichai engaged audiences and clearly conveyed the emotional tales, and a vivid 3D product demonstration vividly illustrated just how the technology works.