To associate great public speaking with Steve Jobs is a recurrent cliché (I already wrote about it here)… but it’s undeniable that Jobs’ presentations are remarkable per se, not only in the corporate & technology world.
Carmine Gallo (twitter, website) -a famous communications coach, author and speaker- has made a colossal work by carefully dissecting Steve Jobs presentation techniques in his latest book “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” (amazon link).
Gallo uses clear and direct language to explain the techniques that you should master and makes no secret about the fact that to achieve that mastery you have to practice, practice, practice… sorry, no shortcuts here. The book is divided in 3 parts or “acts”, each containing a series of short “scenes” that approach every aspect of the presentation method: from planning to writing a headline, from delivering the experience to refining your skills.
The author works as a director who first describes Steve Jobs style and then breaks it down into practical lessons with a theoretic background provided by other experts (graphic presentation gurus like Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte, scientists and other famous speakers).
“Presentations have become the de facto business communication tool” Nancy Duarte, presentation design guru – Slide:ology
Should you imitate Steve Jobs in every aspect to become a good public speaker? Absolutely not. While many of the lessons are there to help you “transform a typical, dull, technical, plodding slide show into a theatrical event complete with heroes, villains, a supporting cast, and stunning backdrops”, Carmine Gallo boldly emphasizes that you should pick on the best practices to create your own style. It would be ridiculous to think that by wearing a black turtleneck, jeans and sport shoes your image on stage would bring you near to anything but looking like a fool. Besides, let’s admit it, your company’s products or services aren’t as cool as those of Apple.
“It’s the story, not the slides, that will capture the imagination of your audience” Carmine Gallo
Some of the advice would risk to seem to classical like “to achieve success, do what you love” or “no technique can make up for a lack of passion for your service, your product, company, or cause”. The book avoids this common pitfall by giving you tools and a roadmap to apply them in a concrete way.
It also serves as an effective reminder to keep focus: “Answer the one question that matters most […] communicate it as clear as possible, getting rid of buzzwords and jargon… and repeat it it during your presentation”. Gallo describes how “Jobs takes the guesswork out of a new product by creating a one-line description or headline that best reflects the product. […] He reveals the headline, expands on it, and hammers it home again and again. […] The headlines […] are effective because they are written from the perspective of the user“.
This is not a book on how to design a powerpoint presentation (though you’ll find some advice on it) but on how to deliver a successful experience to an audience through a live presentation.
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good” Malcolm Gladwell
A final advice: have fun! “Most business communicators lose sight of the fact that their audiences want to be informed and entertained”.