Steve Jobs’ Presentation Secrets

I’m, by no means, a gifted public speaker or presenter.  I struggle mightily.  But for my work, I need to make presentations frequently.  Most of us have to make dog-and-pony shows at one time or another, whether in church, or at work, or with an organization we belong to, etc.  I found the following suggestions helpful.

According to Carmine Gallo, a communication skills coach and author of the book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs (Gallo has never talked to Jobs; he has merely analyzed his presentations), Jobs is “the world’s great corporate storyteller. . .  [He] does not sell computers; he sells an experience.”  Gallo lists six of Jobs’ presentation “secrets”:

  1. A headline.  Jobs positions every product with a headline that fits well within a 140-character Twitter post.  For example, [he] describes the MacBook Air as “The world’s thinnest notebook.”
  2. A villain.  In every classic story, the hero fights the villain.  In 1984,  the villain, according to Apple was IBM.
  3. A simple slide.  Apple products are easy to use because of the elimination of clutter.  The same approach applies to the slides in a Jobs’ presentation.  They are strikingly simple, visual, and yes, devoid of bullet points.  Picture are dominant.
  4. A demo.  Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain gets bored easily.  Jobs doesn’t give you a chance to lose interest.  Ten minutes into a presentation he’s often demonstrating a new product or feature and having fun doing it.
  5. A holy smokes moment.  Every Jobs’ presentation has one moment that neuroscientists call an “emotionally charged event.”  [For example, with the iPhone, Apple combined three products in one “phone.”]
  6. Sell dreams.  Charismatic speakers like Jobs are driven by a nearly messianic zeal to create new experiences.
A Steve Jobs’ “Holy Smokes” Moment

 While these suggestion are directed at hawking products, a modified version can also work well with professional presentations.  I’ve seen too many of the latter, print too small to read, too many ideas on each slide, too many bullet-point slides, and graphs that are too complicated to understand.

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