Who doesn’t love a good story? A well-delivered narration has the power to keep us enthralled and to inspire us long after the mesmerising session is over.
At some point in our lives we’ve all been witness to talented speakers who have perfected the art of storytelling. And yet no one can really stake claim to the spot that was once occupied by Steve Jobs. One of the world’s greatest corporate storytellers, he has inspired hundreds of thousands of viewers with his spellbinding presentations.
We need more leaders like him, especially when companies are required to launch new variations of their existing products frequently. How can they create a need in an already saturated market?
By inspiring the world; by learning to wow our audiences like Jobs did. (And no, this does not mean imitating his dressing style, although it might help.) This article has handpicked presentation techniques from Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch alone. If you too wish to inspire, entertain and inform your audience, read on:
Express your passion
Steve Jobs was passionate about design. (Anybody who has ever held an Apple device, and there aren’t many who haven’t, knows that.) And his audience saw it too. He came on stage, at the iPhone launch, with a large smile on his face, immediately impressing his audience with his eagerness.
Don’t be afraid of your enthusiasm. If you are excited, your audience will catch on to it and project the same excitement back at you. If you are not passionate about your idea, why would anybody else be?
A twitter-friendly headline
Try the technique that Jobs perfected; create a one-sentence summary of your main message. And use that in every possible place, in every possible way when you talk about your product or idea. When he revealed the first iPhone, Jobs told the audience that ‘Apple will reinvent the phone.’ The same line was carried across news articles and blogs that covered the launch event. The search for this phrase turns up 25,000 links even today.
The Rule of Three
Watch the Rule of Three at the 1:50 sec mark
If you observe Jobs’ presentations, you will notice his preference for the number ‘3’. You can see this in his iPhone presentation. Divided into three sections, it even seemed to speak of three different products: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and lastly a breakthrough Internet communications device. And then he revealed that it wasn’t three, but one product.
You’d agree that a list of 3 things is far more captivating than a list of 2, and most certainly easier to remember than one of 20!
Is there a villain?
We all love a villain, especially one that is going to be vanquished. Highlight a problem, and then offer a solution.
Steve Jobs’ presentation in 2007 did just that. How do you create the need for another mobile phone, that too from Apple? Jobs did that by introducing a problem of smartphones that are tough to use. The solution was the iPhone – simpler, smarter than any mobile device till date.
And then bring in the hero
Don’t just sell your product or idea; sell the benefit, your hero. How does the hero make life better for your audience?
The iPhone introduced the revolutionary multi-touch user interface. You didn’t need a stylus, and it was far more accurate and intuitive than anything that had been seen before.
Simple visual slides
Steve Jobs’ iPhone presentation used all of 21 words across 12 slides and that was in the first three minutes of the presentation. Remember, your PowerPoint presentation is just the trigger; you are the actual presentation.
Tell a story
Build up to the actual event. Entertain your audience with a short anecdote. Use it to relax them and make them more receptive to your final big idea. Tell them a story. It could be a personal incident, a customer moment or even a brand story. This will help move things along effortlessly.
Practise. Practise. Practise.
Many people believe that they can never be as smooth as Steve Jobs. Well, guess what! Steve himself wasn’t as smooth. He would spend hours upon hours practicing and rehearsing on stage so that he would appear polished and effortless on the final day. He knew every tiny detail of his iPhone presentation which is what made it flawless.
Do not read from notes
And when you practise relentlessly, you don’t need notes or a teleprompter. The iPhone launch lasted around 80 minutes; not once did Steve Jobs break contact with the audience to look at any cards. The presentation is an actual conversation with your audience, and it is this connection that makes an impact.
Inspire your audience
Leave your audience with an inspiring thought at the end of the presentation. And tie it back to the ethos at your company. At the end of his iPhone presentation, Jobs said, “I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I’ve been so excited about today… There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ We’ve always tried to do that at Apple since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”
Lastly, have fun!
Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you have fun, your audience relaxes and is more receptive to your ideas. Create fun moments in the presentation, and you will be more memorable. You don’t need to conduct stand-up comedy, but an occasional joke never hurt anyone.
Every presentation is an opportunity to make a stronger connection with your audience. It does require planning, time and some amount of creativity, but the payoff is totally worth the effort.