One fundamental part of any Apple event was the keynote speech by Steve Jobs. Jobs was a maestro in presentations. Seeing him on the stage, presenting latest by Apple to journalists and consumers was a treat itself. They say that to become good at what you do, you need to practice and practice hard. Steve Jobs it seems was a natural.
Being in the business of storytelling for brands, we loved how Steve Jobs used to orchestrate product launches. The iPod, iPhone, iPad and the Macbook, everything was so wonderfully explained and released that one even if not a fan of Apple would be in awe. He used to inspire everyone with informed and entertaining presentations.
We know firsthand how important it is for corporate storytelling to engage their audiences. So for us, Steve Jobs presentation was the perfect case study to learn how to master the art of presentation. Here’s a list of our findings.
Summarize your message into one single line
Carmine Gallo, who heads Gallo Communications Group and has extensively written about Steve Jobs says that Jobs used to rely on his marketing chops by summarizing his product and features into one single line.
After showing his new phone, for instance, Jobs would look directly into the audience and say boldly, “Apple has reinvented the phone!” This would then appear across all formats of media. Bloggers and techies will continue to write about the new iPhone using the tagline again and again. Though it is true that this is viral marketing 101, for Steve Jobs, saying it aloud to the audience at Macworld reinforced his message.
The rule of three:
One thing that was consistent in Steve Job’s presentation was the famous rule of three. If you don’t know what it is, the rule of three is where you restrict yourself saying or demonstrating your idea into three parts. Whether it was his whole presentation or a segment, his points on the presentation or his speaking notes will be divided into three-pointers. Even his iconic commencement speech at Standford University was divided into three main things.
Dividing things into three makes them more satisfying, allowing you to present your ideas compared to using two or eleven things to share your ideas.
Whatever the product was, Steve always blamed something before. In a case of the iPod, he showed various pain points of the consumers through showing the conventional CD-ROM and the MP3 player. He compared their prices, their features and showed how really bad they were. After showing all the bad stuff, he announced iPod.
He then went on saying how it is an MP3 player that offers CD quality music and plays all popular formats of music (rule of three). Jobs then proudly stressed on 1000 songs storage capacity. But that’s not he focused on. He kept talking about ultra-portability of the new device. He showed dimensions of a stack of cards and stressed how Apple Design made it incredibly portable.
He illustrated it by simply taking it out of his pocket.
Keep it simple:
The key aspect of Steve Job’s visual presentation was using simple images with a minimal amount of text. In the above-mentioned video, Steve’s presentation had only nineteen words. Presentations used by Steve Jobs used to create hype about the new product launch that he was about to show.
If you go through Steve Jobs presentations or any moment of public speaking, he always had amazing stories up his sleeve. In some cases, he used stories to create the momentum against certain products. For instance, he said about the new iPod
“In 1984, Apple introduced the first Macintosh. It didn’t just change Apple. It changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod. It didn’t just change the way we all listen to music. It changed the entire music industry.”
Stories can also help in lapses during your presentation. During one, Steve’s clicker failed to work. So while it was being fixed, Steve didn’t stand awkwardly but engaged his audience with an interesting story of him and Steve Wozniak when they used to be college. Here’s the video clip:
Preparation is the key:
The best parts of presentations given by Steve Jobs were that they were conversational. They looked natural. All throughout Apple, it was famous how Steve Jobs used to spend time on the stage prior to the launch. He would be involved at the granular level of every demo, make sure everything was as good as he wants. He wasn’t natural but it was his practice and preparation that made him good.