Steve Jobs is widely considered to have been one of the world’s greatest businessmen, innovators and presenters. Being a heck of a public speaker helped him out in all of these categories. Jobs helped to turn Apple’s regular product launch events into something akin to a ritual and a celebration, developing an almost cult-like level of loyalty for his brand.
How did Jobs do it? There were many layers to his art, but in today’s post we’d like to highlight several of his core presentation techniques that potentially any business can harness in their own marketing efforts.
Have Your Headlines And Takeaways Ready In Advance
Steve Jobs understood Twitter before Twitter even existed. He understood it so well, it’s a wonder he didn’t invent it!
What Jobs really understood was the importance of reducing your ideas to short, punchy bites that are easy for a non-technical audience to digest. These core ideas are the lens through which the audience is primarily going to conceptualize the presentation, and they’re also going to be the headlines that appear in the media and in blog posts.
While Jobs didn’t restrict himself to 140 characters, his big takeaway ideas usually didn’t go too far beyond that. That was always reflected in the headlines following his product launches. The running theme that Apple managed to capture with Jobs at the helm was that their new product reveals were going to “revolutionize” the market, and in many cases, they did.
When we think back to famous Steve Jobs presentations, we tend to think of him in his iconic black turtleneck and jeans on stage inspiring and elevating the audience with soaring rhetoric. What isn’t so well-remembered is that he actually made very frequent use of video.
Video of the product in use was a natural fit, of course, but Jobs loved to go beyond that and humanize the experience by showing Apple employees working on the device and talking about their hopes and expectations for it. Jobs also liked to show and talk about ads for the product during presentations, which went over surprisingly well with audiences.
Let People Know Right Up Front Why They Should Care
People aren’t at a presentation for a long, elaborate dissertation. They want to be told right up front what your product does and why it’s important to them.
Steve Jobs did this elegantly by cutting straight to the chase, using plain language instead of industry jargon or trendy buzzwords. He was also brilliant about relating to the audience by identifying a common need or pain point, then demonstrating how the product solved it. A tangible example that people can remember covers a lot more mileage than a speech crammed with buzzwords that they may not even understand.
Make It A Story Of Good Overcoming Evil
This won’t work in every application, but Steve Jobs was masterful about casting Apple as the scrappy underdog taking on the stagnant, consumer-unfriendly hierarchy. This posture began with the infamous “1984” ads in which the rebel Macintosh fighter freed the brainwashed PC followers, but it continued even after Apple grew to become one of the world’s biggest companies. Somehow, Apple customers always felt that they were doing something countercultural and progressive even when tens of millions of people around the world were using the same device.
Keep Each Presentation Segment To No More Than 10 Minutes
Even Steve Jobs can’t keep an audience focused on a speech for more than about 10 minutes at a time. Jobs was wise enough to recognize this, however. This is part of the reason why he so frequently broke up his speaking segments with videos. To keep things unpredictable, he would also periodically bring in other speakers or do product demonstrations. The key to each one of these segments, however, was that it never overstayed that 10 minute welcome period.
While it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to be the next Steve Jobs, much of what made Jobs so successful consists of discrete marketing and public speaking techniques like these that can be teased out and applied elsewhere. He left behind a wealth of information that anyone can reap dividends from if they take the time to study it.