Ten Secrets of Steve Jobs' Presentations
And How You Can Use Them to Astound Your Audience
Genius. Legend. Visionary.
These are but a few of the
superlatives that have been
used to describe the late, great
But beyond his business
acumen, the man behind
Apple®computers and Pixar
Animation Studios was perhaps
the greatest keynote speaker of
our time. There are more than
57,000 links to his presentations
What made his presentations so
amazing that people all over the
world want to see them? More
importantly, how can the rest of
us learn from Steve to inspire
our audiences the way he did?
"My presentation was supposed to
knock your socks off. I guess I got
In his excellent book, The
Presentation Secrets of Steve
Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great
in Front of Any Audience,
Carmine Gallo takes us behind
the scenes and offers Steve's
ten secrets that you can use for
presentations that will inform,
engage and, yes, astound your
Holy Smokes, Bullets Kill! (And Other Presentation Tips)
Before planning your presentation, according to Carmine Gallo, it is critical to know
the question that matters most to your audience: "Why should I care?" 1 You need to
think about how to inspire your audience. Simply trying to sell them something
doesn't cut it. As Carmine writes, "Your widget doesn't inspire me. Show me how
your widget improves my life, and you've won me over."2
Here are Steve Jobs' ten secrets for insanely great presentations.3
1. Plan in analog. Brainstorm in advance of creating your presentation. You can
use pen and paper, a whiteboard or, better yet, a mind map.
DO NOT use PowerPoint®to create your presentation—it will be used only in
the final step! (More onthis later.)
2. Create Twitter-friendly headlines. Describe your product or service in 140
characters or less. Preferably, a lot less. Steve introduced the MacBook Air ®as
simply, "The world's thinnest notebook." About the first-generation iPod®, he
tweeted: "It's one thousand songs in your pocket."
3. Introduce the villain. Steve saw a presentation as a three-act play that
must tell a story, but what is a story without a hero and a villain? Before he
introduced the famous 1984 ad to a group of Apple salespeople, he set the
stage, casting "Big Blue" as Goliath. "IBM wants it all," he warned, and
defiantly asserted that only Apple stoodin its way. His dramatic moment sent
the crowd into frenzy.
While the villain doesn't have to be a competitor, it must be a common foe
that your audience will want to join with you in rallying against.
Yourproductisthenrevealed as theconqueringhero.
4. Create visual slides. As Carmine writes, "Neuroscientists are finding that the
best way to communicate information is through text and pictures, not text
alone." As for bullet points, Steve never, ever, used them and neither should
you. Carmine has a section in his book titled, "Bullets Kill" that describes why
you should avoid using PowerPoint to create your presentation.
"Think about what happens when you open PowerPoint. A blank-format slide
appears that contains space for words—a title and subtitle. This presents a
problem. There are very few words in a Steve Jobs presentation. Now think
about the first thing you see in the drop-down menu under Format: Bullets &
Numbering. This leads to the second problem. There are no bullet points in a
Steve Jobs presentation. The software itself forces you to create a template
that represents the exact opposite of what you need to speak like Steve!" 4
Take a look at the following comparison of bullet-point slides compared to the
same information, presented
5. Practice, a lot. Most people read their presentations off of their PowerPoint
slides. This is why most presentations are boring. Steve treated every slide as
piece of poetry and every presentation as a theatrical event. He wasn't a
natural presenter; he worked very hard at it. Rehearse your presentation, toss
the script and look at your audience. Practiceatmaking it look effortless.
6. Obey the ten-minute rule. It's a scientific fact that the brain gets tired after
ten minutes. Steve's presentations typically lasted an hour and a half. He
would break them up into short intervals of ten minutes or less by
interspersing videos, demonstrations, or guest speakers. Don't let your
audience get tired or you'll lose them.
A great way to keep your audience's attention when presenting information is
though sequencing, which builds the story within a visual one step at a time,
making the information much easier to digest.
7. Dress up your numbers. We often deal with large numbers or data that an
audience can't comprehend without context. Breaking them down and
presenting numbers visually can overcome this. Notice how much more
effectively the chart below illustrates sales figures as opposed to a matrix of
8. Reveal a 'holy smokes!' moment. Maya Angelou said, "People will forget
what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget
how you made them fe el." Steve Jobs always produced a memorable moment
in a pre sentation. When he introduced the MacBook Air, he told his a udience
that while everyone had seen manila envelopes floating around the office,
what they had never seen was someone pulling a notebook computer out of
one—which is precisely what he did. The audience went wild and images of
that moment remain emblazoned in people's minds four years later.
9. Sell dreams, not products. When it looked at the iPod, the world saw a
music player. What Steve Jobs saw was a tool to enrich people's lives. Howard
Schultz of Starbucks didn't have a passion to sell coffee; his vision was to
create an experience: a 'third place' between home and work where people
would want to gather. The dream met the customer's need and the product
sales took care of itself.
10. Have fun! When was the last time you saw someone enjoying giving a
presentation? Steve Jobs had fun in every keynote. He made jokes at his own
expense. While most people give presentations to deliver information, Steve
always created an experience that his audience would enjoy and remember.
Most importantly, he sold them on becoming a part of his dream, not his