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”:
- 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.”
- A villain. In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. In 1984, the villain, according to Apple was IBM.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”]
- Sell dreams. Charismatic speakers like Jobs are driven by a nearly messianic zeal to create new experiences.
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.