What really goes on before a major global product launch?

Since coaching the speakers for Samsung’s recent launch of the impressive Note 7 phone, I have been inundated by letters from people wanting the inside scoop about the process. OK, by “inundated,” I mean a few people have emailed me and mentioned the launch. Well, they didn’t actually mention it, but I’m sure they were wondering what it was like.

So, I thought I’d do a first-ever Q&A on what the process was like helping these two executives prep for a major global product launch at the storied Hammerstein Theater in New York City.

But, before I get into that, you are probably wondering “What the hell are you doing in a Samsung phone launch?”

Samsung reached out to me last year after hearing about our presentation work. I coached their speakers for the February launch in Barcelona, and they sold so many phones after that one, they must have figured it was because of me:)

So now, let’s get into what really goes on before a global product launch…

What’s it like backstage?
It’s madness. Dozens of computers and miles of cables everywhere. I was constantly amazed by how many people it takes to run a show of this caliber. There were sound engineers, producers, electronics rental technicians (for the 1200 virtual reality headsets the audience used), PR agents, media managers, stagehands, stylists, fashionistas, writers, executives, security (who taped our phone cameras closed every time we entered the building) and so many more!

How many times do speakers practice before a launch like this?
One speaker’s part was 12 minutes, and the other’s was 20. And each of them practiced their entire section at least 50-60 times. After the show, one of them told me that the muscle memory he had from so many practice sessions kicked in when he was onstage and kept him focused and out of trouble.

What’s the toughest part about coaching the speakers?
Teleprompters. The challenge was helping the speakers sound conversational while reading someone else’s words off the screens. We did this through two things:
1. Modifying the script to fit each speaker’s personality
2. Lots and lots and lots of practice

How do you coach speakers for such a unique stage?
The stage was unprecedented. It was an L-stage, which meant that the floor was lit up and part of the show. We had to choreograph the speakers’ movements so that they were in the right place for each part. To do this, we wrote deliver cues (like pause and move left) into the script.

How do you help the speakers handle their nerves?
The three biggest things we did were:

Practice before bed. Each night, they would practice right before bed, then go straight to sleep. This enabled the subconscious to work on it as they slept.
Positive visualization. I had them visualize the entire process with the crowd applauding and them nailing their presentation.
Rehearsing while schmoozing and laughing to take the edge off. As they were backstage before their part, they were yucking it up with one of the directors of the show. That way, they weren’t stressing about their part. Instead, they were talking and laughing so that when they walked onstage, they were already warmed up and in the right state.

And finally, were any rappers involved?
Actually, there was a video clip of Lil Wayne pouring champagne onto a brand new $800 Samsung S7 Edge. It was going to be part of the show and would have been hilarious, but the Legal department pulled it at the last second.

Oh, there were plenty more questions, but I know you have work to do. Hope you found this interesting and even helpful. Thanks for reading, and good luck speaking!