What is is: Steve Jobs was known to give compelling presentations that have been studied and emulated by others over the years.
In “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” author Carmen Gallo lists ways that Steve Jobs made his presentations not only interesting but newsworthy. Yet there’s nothing “secret” about the way Steve Jobs gave presentations. He simply focused on making every presentation interesting to his audience.
Here’s the way most people give a presentation. First they worry about whether Keynote is better than Powerpoint or vice versa. Second, after choosing a presentation program to use, they create slides filled with text and then during their presentation, they proceed to read exactly what’s on each slide. Unless your audience consists of pre-schoolers who don’t know how to read yet, reading a presentation is slow, inefficient, and downright boring since people can read faster than someone can speak, so they wind up staring off into space while the presenter drones on to recite the text that everyone else had already finished five minutes ago.
Perhaps the biggest problem most presenters make is that they focus solely on giving information. While the purpose of any presentation is to give information, you also need to prove the right context. For example, why should anyone care about your presentation? How will it impact them? If you look at the way most computer companies market their products, you’ll see a laundry list of features like 8GB of RAM or Intel Core 2 processor. Technical specifications are information but ultimately meaningless if you don’t know what these technical features are or what they will do for you.
Simply listing a longer list of technical specifications implies that the product must be superior, but if you don’t know why, it won’t matter. That’s where Steve Jobs differed from most presenters in the world.
First, Steve Jobs focused on the user. What will technical features do for the audience? When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t babble on about how big the storage space was or what type of cable you needed to connect the iPod to a computer. Instead, Steve Jobs focused on what people really wanted to know when he said you cold fit 1,000 songs in your pocket. That statement summarizes the whole purpose of the iPod.
Besides focusing on the user, Steve Jobs also focused on keeping his presentations active. Most people can barely stay awake for ten minutes at a time, so Steve Jobs constantly offered something different whether it was a video, another person presenting, or a live demonstration. By constantly changing ways to present information, Steve Jobs kept the overall presentation interesting so the audience rarely got bored and felt the presentation was just dragging on.
Another so-called secret was to develop a story around each product. Such a story defined a problem, a villain, and a savior, which was the Apple product itself. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, he first talked about the troublesome devices of the past and how clumsy earlier mobile phones were to use. Then he mentioned that Apple was going to introduce three products, a phone, a new music player, and an Internet communications device because today’s ugly mobile phones were only good for making calls and nothing else.
That’s when Steve jobs surprised everyone by introducing the iPhone, which combined the features of a phone, a music player, and a computer with a browser all in one package. The previous enemy was the complexity and clumsiness of carrying around three separate devices to make calls, listen to music, and browse the Internet. With the iPhone, Steve Jobs killed all previous products and showed the simplicity of the iPhone as a far better solution.
By first highlighting the problems of current technology, Steve Jobs made the iPhone seem more magical and revolutionary. If he had just introduced the iPhone without mentioning the clumsiness of current mobile phones, the impact would have been less dramatic.
Presentations are always stories so you must learn to tell a good story or else all the information you present will be meaningless. That’s the biggest so-called secret of Steve Jobs, yet it’s an obvious one that people ignore time and time again. If you want to learn how to give good presentations, think of your audience at all times and keep them happy, delighted, and surprised. If you do this, you’ll be amazed at how well your own presentations suddenly start turning out.