Learning best practices for engaging an audience from the Apple guru himself.
By Erin Weber
Recently the professor of our Business Strategy class upped the ante on presentation delivery. She challenged our class to craft a presentation story that married content with visuals in a cohesive and fluid way. She insisted that without an engaging and compelling story, any audience (from our classmates to the C-Suite) would quickly lose interest and miss the purpose of our message.
She was absolutely right.
Her feedback inspired me to revisit a Business Week article I read a few months ago. The article highlighted the successful presentation techniques for which Steve Jobs is famous. Carmine Gallo wrote a book titled The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience and produced an extremely informative PowerPoint presentation, but we’ll just focus on the highlights:
- Craft a headline that succinctly describes the overarching message. Most recently, all Jobs needed to say was “iPad” and the union of a tablet form and Apple OS sparked the imagination of his audience.
- Identify a villain. In this case, it was the “Netbook,” in Jobs’ opinion: the slow, low-res, under-performing device that currently sits between smartphones and laptops.
- Design simple, visually informative slides. Using iconic visuals, minimal text and representative animation, Jobs’ slides walk the audience through his story without distracting from his words.
- Demonstrate your point. Jobs’ enthusiastic claims of greatness are only as strong as the demos he presents to back them up. When he sat down in the chair and started scrolling and clicking through NYTimes.com, the audience could witness many of the reasons he referred to the web interaction experience as being unique from those of other devices.
There’s good reason for Apple product releases attracting an excessive amount of hype – Jobs knows how to evoke mystery and then engage an audience with a compelling, visual story. He is a master at professional story telling. Don’t take my word for it, watch the first 5 minutes of Jobs’ presentation of the new Apple iPad.