Note: While reading a book whenever I come across something interesting, I highlight it on my Kindle. Later I turn those highlights into a blogpost. It is not a complete summary of the book. These are my notes which I intend to go back to later. Let’s start!

  • Only a handful of leaders whom I have had the pleasure of meeting have this skill, the ability to turn seemingly boring items into exciting brand stories. The most inspiring communicators share this quality—the ability to create something meaningful out of esoteric or everyday products. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz does not sell coffee. He sells a “third place” between work and home. Financial guru Suze Orman does not sell trusts and mutual funds. She sells the dream of financial freedom. In the same way, Jobs does not sell computers. He sells tools to unleash human potential.

  • If you cannot get people to care, your product will never stand a chance of success.

  • Persuasive presentation scripts contain nine common elements. Think about incorporating each of these components
    • HEADLINE What is the one big idea you want to leave with your audience? It should be short (140 characters or less), memorable, and written in the subject-verb-object sequence. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he exclaimed, “Today Apple reinvents the phone!”5 That’s a headline. Headlines grab the attention of your audience and give people a reason to listen.
    • PASSION STATEMENT Aristotle, the father of public speaking, believed that successful speakers must have “pathos,” or passion for their subject. Very few communicators express a sense of excitement about their topic. Steve Jobs exudes an almost giddy enthusiasm every time he presents. Former employees and even some journalists have claimed that they found his energy and enthusiasm completely mesmerizing. Spend a few minutes developing a passion statement by filling in the following sentence: “I’m excited about this product [company, initiative, feature, etc.] because it .”Once you have identified the passion statement, don’t be bashful—share it.
    • THREE KEY MESSAGES Now that you have decided on your headline and passion statement, write out the three messages you want your audience to receive. They should be easily recalled without the necessity of looking at notes.
    • METAPHORS AND ANALOGIES As you develop key messages and supporting points, decide on which rhetorical devices will make your narrative more engaging. Jobs uses metaphors in conversations and presentations. In one famous interview, Jobs said, “What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” Jobs likes to have fun with analogies, especially if they can be applied to Microsoft. During an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, Jobs pointed out that many people say iTunes is their favorite application for Windows. “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to someone in hell!”
    • DEMONSTRATIONS Jobs shares the spotlight with employees, partners, and products. Demos make up a large part of his presentations. When Jobs unveiled a new version of the OS X operating system, codenamed Leopard, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (commonly abbreviated WWDC, the annual conference is an Apple event to showcase new software and technologies) in June 2007, he said Leopard had three hundred new features. He chose ten to discuss and demonstrate, including Time Machine (automated backup), Boot Camp (runs Windows XP and Vista on Mac), and Stacks (file organization). Instead of simply listing the features on a slide and explaining them, he sat down and showed the audience how they worked.
    • PARTNERS Jobs shares the stage with key partners as well as his products.
    • CUSTOMER EVIDENCE AND THIRD-PARTY ENDORSEMENTS Offering “customer evidence” or testimonials is an important part of the selling cycle.   - VIDEO CLIPS Very few presenters incorporate video into their presentations. Jobs plays video clips very often. Sometimes he shows video of employees talking about how much they enjoyed working on a product. Jobs is also fond of showing Apple’s most recent television ads.
    • FLIP CHARTS, PROPS, AND SHOW-AND-TELL There are three types of learners: visual (the majority of people fall into this category), auditory (listeners), and kinesthetic (people who like to feel and touch). Find ways to appeal to everyone. A presentation should comprise more than just slides. Use whiteboards, flip charts, or the high-tech flip chart—a tablet PC. Bring “props” such as physical products for people to see, use, and touch.   
  • Slides don’t tell stories; you do. Slides complement the story.

  • A Steve Jobs presentation follows Aristotle’s classic five-point plan to create a persuasive argument:
    1. Deliver a story or statement that arouses the audience’s interest.
    2. Pose a problem or question that has to be solved or answered.
    3. Offer a solution to the problem you raised.
    4. Describe specific benefits for adopting the course of action set forth in your solution.
    5. State a call to action. For Steve, it’s as simple as saying, “Now go out and buy one!”
  • During the planning phase of your presentation, always remember that it’s not about you. It’s about them. The listeners in your audience are asking themselves one question—“Why should I care?” Answering that one question right out of the gate will grab people’s attention and keep them engaged.

  • Your listeners are asking themselves, “Why should I care?” If your product will help your customers make money, tell them. If it helps them save money, tell them. If it makes it easier or more enjoyable for them to perform a particular task, tell them. Tell them early, often, and clearly. Jobs doesn’t leave people guessing. Well before he explains the technology behind a new product or feature, he explains how it will improve the experience people have with their computers, music players, or gadgets.  
  • Nobody has time to listen to a pitch or presentation that holds no benefit. If you pay close attention to Jobs, you will see that he doesn’t “sell” products; he sells the dream of a better future.

  • Your audience doesn’t care about your product. People care about themselves.

  • Sell dreams, not products.  
  • Ask yourself, “Why should my listener care about this idea/information/product/service?” If there is only one thing that you want your listener to take away from the conversation, what would it be? Focus on selling the benefit behind the product.

  • Make the one thing as clear as possible, repeating it at least twice in the conversation or presentation. Eliminate buzzwords and jargon to enhance the clarity of your message.

  • Make sure the one thing is consistent across all of your marketing collateral, including press releases, website pages, and presentations.   
  • Few people can escape the Jobs charisma, a magnetism steeped in passion for his products. Observers have said that there is something about the way Jobs talks, the enthusiasm that he conveys, that grabs everyone in the room and doesn’t let go. Even journalists who should have built up an immunity to such gravitational forces cannot escape the influence. Wired .com editor Leander Kahney interviewed Jobs biographer Alan Deutschman, who described a meeting with Jobs: “He uses your first name very often. He looks directly in your eyes with that laser-like stare. He has these movie-star eyes that are very hypnotic. But what really gets you is the way he talks—there’s something about the rhythm of his speech and the incredible enthusiasm he conveys for whatever it is he’s talking about that is just infectious.”

  • Develop a personal “passion statement.” In one sentence, tell your prospects why you are genuinely excited about working with them. Your passion statement will be remembered long after your company’s mission statement is forgotten.

  • The MacBook Air is Apple’s ultrathin notebook computer. The best way to describe it is as, well, the world’s thinnest notebook. Search for “world’s thinnest notebook” on Google, and the search engine will return about thirty thousand citations, most of which were written after the announcement. Jobs takes the guesswork out of a new product by creating a one-line description or headline that best reflects the product. The headlines work so well that the media will often run with them word for word.   
  • You see, reporters (and your audience) are looking for a category in which to place your product and a way of describing the product in one sentence. Take the work out of it and write the headline yourself.  
  • Jobs creates headlines that are specific, are memorable, and, best of all, can fit in a Twitter post.

  • Jobs has a one-line description for nearly every product, and it is carefully created in the planning stage well before the presentation, press releases, and marketing material are finished. Most important, the headline is consistent.  
  • The minute Jobs delivers a headline onstage, the Apple publicity and marketing teams kick into full gear. Posters are dropped down inside the Macworld Expo, billboards go up, the front page of the Apple website reveals the product and headline, and ads reflect the headline in newspapers and magazines, as well as on television and radio. Whether it’s “1,000 songs in your pocket” or “The world’s thinnest notebook,” the headline is repeated consistently in all of Apple’s marketing channels.

  • Jobs does not wait for the media to create a headline. He writes it himself and repeats it several times in his presentation. Jobs delivers the headline before explaining the details of the product. He then describes the product, typically with a demo, and repeats the headline immediately upon ending the explanation. For example, here is how Jobs introduced GarageBand for the first time: “Today we’re announcing something so cool: a fifth app that will be part of the iLife family. Its name is GarageBand. What is GarageBand? GarageBand is a major new pro music tool. But it’s for everyone.” Jobs’s slide mirrored the headline. When he announced the headline for GarageBand, the slide on the screen read: “GarageBand. A major new pro music tool.” Jobs followed the headline with a longer, one-sentence description of the product. “What it does is turn your Mac into a pro-quality musical instrument and complete recording studio,” Jobs told the audience. This is typical Jobs method for introducing a product. He reveals the headline, expands on it, and hammers it home again and again.

  • The headlines Steve Jobs creates work effectively because they are written from the perspective of the user. They answer the question, Why should I care?

  • Why should you care about the iMac? Because it lets you experience “the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh.”

  • Apple is responsible for one of the greatest product headlines of all time. According to author Leander Kahney, Jobs himself settled on the description for the original iPod. On October 23, 2001, Jobs could have said, “Today we’re introducing a new, ultraportable MP3 player with a 6.5-ounce design and a 5 GB hard drive, complete with Apple’s legendary ease of use.” Of course, Jobs did not say it quite that way. He simply said, “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket.”11 No one could describe it better in more concise language. One thousand songs that could fit in your pocket. What else is there to say? One sentence tells the story and also answers the question, Why should I care? Many reporters covering the event used the description in the headline to their articles. Matthew Fordahl’s headline in the Associated Press on the day of the announcement read, “Apple’s New iPod Player Puts ‘1,000 Songs in Your Pocket.’ ” Apple’s headline was memorable because it meets three criteria: it is concise (twenty-seven characters), it is specific (one thousand songs), and it offers a personal benefit (you can carry the songs in your pocket).

  • Journalists learn to write headlines on the first day of J-school. Headlines are what persuade you to read particular stories in newspapers, magazines, or blogs. Headlines matter. As individuals become their own copywriters for blogs, presentations, Twitter posts, and marketing material, learning to write catchy, descriptive headlines becomes even more important to professional success.  
  • Create your headline, a one-sentence vision statement for your company, product, or service. The most effective headlines are concise (140 characters maximum), are specific, and offer a personal benefit.

  • Consistently repeat the headline in your conversations and marketing material: presentations, slides, brochures, collateral, press releases, website. Remember, your headline is a statement that offers your audience a vision of a better future. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

  • Today we are introducing three revolutionary products. On January 9, 2007, thousands of Mac faithful watched as Steve Jobs delivered an electrifying announcement. “Today Apple reinvents the phone,” Jobs said as he revealed the iPhone for the first time to the public. Before delivering that headline, however, Jobs added to the drama and suspense when he told the audience that Apple would introduce not one, but three revolutionary products. He identified the first one as a wide-screen iPod with touch controls. This met with a smattering of applause. Jobs said the second product would be a revolutionary mobile phone. The audience cheered that announcement. And the third, said Jobs, was a breakthrough Internet communications device. At this point, the audience members sat back and waited for what they thought would be further product descriptions and perhaps some demos of the three new devices—but the real thrill was yet to come. Jobs continued, “So, three things: a wide-screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone—are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.” The audience went wild, and Jobs basked in the glow of nailing yet another product launch that would solidify Apple’s role as one of the world’s most innovative companies. Jobs draws a verbal road map for his audience, a preview of coming attractions. Typically these road maps are outlined in groups of three—a presentation might be broken into “three acts,” a product description into “three features,” a demo into “three parts.” Jobs’s love of threes can be traced back at least as early as the original Macintosh introduction on January 24, 1984. Appearing at the Flint Center, in Cupertino, California, Jobs told the audience, “There have only been two milestone products in our industry: the Apple II in 1977 and the IBM PC in 1981. Today we are introducing the third industry milestone product, the Macintosh. And it has turned out insanely great!”

  • Verbal guideposts serve as road maps, helping your listeners follow the story. When coaching clients to appear in the media, I always instruct them to create an easy-to-follow story by clearly outlining three or, at the most, four main points before filling in the details. When this technique is followed, reporters will often take extensive notes. If the spokesperson misses a point, reporters will ask, “Didn’t you say you had three points? I heard only two.” A verbal road map of three things will help your listeners keep their place.

  • Listeners like lists. But how many points should you include in the list? Three is the magic number.

  • Every great movie, book, play, or presentation has a three-act structure.

  • Revealing the narrative in groups of three provides direction for your audience. It shows people where you’ve been and where you’re going.

  • At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in September 2008, Jobs displayed a slide of a stool with three legs. “As you know, there’s three parts to Apple now,” he said. “The first part, of course, is the Mac. The second part is our music businesses, the iPod and iTunes. And the third part is now the iPhone.” Jobs introduced the executives who would speak about the Mac and the iPod business. Jobs would take the iPhone portion himself. As he launched into the iPhone discussion, Jobs once again provided a road map for his listeners—this time, a road map in four parts: “In a few weeks, it’s going to be the iPhone’s first birthday. We shipped our first iPhone on June 29. It was an amazing introduction, the most amazing one we’ve ever had. iPhone has had tremendous critical acclaim. It’s the phone that has changed phones forever. But we have mountains to climb to reach the next level. What are these challenges? The first, Battery life. “The best laptop in the world isn’t worth much when its battery dies. Intel’s new chip features an ultra low power processor and other energy-saving tools.” Graphics. “Laptops traditionally use low-end graphics chips. But now 26 percent have powerful stand-alone graphics chips and more people watch movies, play games, and use graphicsintensive programs.” Wireless Internet. “Intel’s new chip line features the latest version of Wi-Fi, known as 802.11n. Later this year it plans to roll out chips using a new wireless Internet standard, WiMax, which can send a signal over several miles.” 3G networking—faster networking. Second, enterprise support. Third, third-party application support. And fourth, we need to sell iPhone in more countries.” After providing that verbal preview of the four points he would discuss in more detail, Jobs returned to the first point. “So, as we arrive at iPhone’s first birthday, we’re going to take it to the next level, and today we’re introducing the iPhone 3G.” This is a remarkably consistent technique in Jobs’s presentations. He outlines three or four points, returns to the first point, explains each one in more depth, and then summarizes each point. This is a simple recipe for ensuring your audience will retain the information you are sharing.

  • Jobs kicked off Macworld 2008 with the verbal equivalent of an agenda (there are no agenda slides in a Steve Jobs presentation, just verbal road maps). “I’ve got four things I’d like to talk to you about today, so let’s get started,” he said. The first one is Leopard. I’m thrilled to report that we have delivered over five million copies of Leopard in the first ninety days. Unbelievable. It’s the most successful release of Mac OS X ever . . . Number two is about the iPhone. Today happens to be the two hundreth day that the iPhone went on sale. I’m extraordinarily pleased that we have sold four million iPhones to date . . . OK, number three. This is a good one, too. Number three is about iTunes. I’m really pleased to report that last week we sold our four billionth song. Isn’t that great? On Christmas Day we set a new record, twenty million songs in one day. Isn’t that amazing? That’s our new one-day record . . . So, that brings us to number four. There is something in the air. What is it? Well, as you know, Apple makes the best notebooks in the business: the MacBook and the MacBook Pro. Well, today we’re introducing a third kind of notebook. It’s called the MacBook Air  
  • Obama not only breaks up his speeches into paragraphs of three sentences but also often delivers three points within sentences.

  • When Obama took the oath of office to become America’s forty-fourth president on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, he delivered a historical address to some two million people who gathered to watch the speech in person and millions more on television around the world. Obama made frequent use of threes in the speech: “I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices born by our ancestors.” “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered.” “Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.” “Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious, and they are many.” “Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began, our minds no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last month or last year.”  
  • Even when he’s not using slides in a traditional keynote presentation, Jobs is speaking in threes. Jobs kicked off his now famous Stanford commencement address by saying, “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life.”  
  • His speech followed the outline. He told three personal stories from his life, explained what they taught him, and turned those stories into lessons for the graduates.

  • Create a list of all the key points you want your audience to know about your product, service, company, or initiative. Categorize the list until you are left with only three major message points. This group of three will provide the verbal road map for your pitch or presentation. Under each of your three key messages, add rhetorical devices to enhance the narrative. These could include some or all of the following: personal stories, facts, examples, analogies, metaphors, and third-party endorsements.

  • Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? Was George Orwell right? In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. The same storytelling outline applies to world-class presentations. Steve Jobs establishes the foundation of a persuasive story by introducing his audience to an antagonist, an enemy, a problem in need of a solution. In 1984, the enemy was “Big Blue.”

  • Introducing the antagonist (the problem) rallies the audience around the hero (the solution). Jobs structures his most exciting presentations around this classic storytelling device. For example, thirty minutes into one of his most triumphant presentations, the launch of the iPhone at Macworld 2007, he spent three minutes explaining why the iPhone is a product whose time has come. The villains in this case included all the current smartphones on the market, which, Jobs would argue, weren’t very smart.

  • Make note of how Jobs asks rhetorical questions to advance the story. “Why do we need a revolutionary user interface?” he asked before introducing the problem. He even raises problems to his own solution. When he introduced the concept of replacing the keyboard with a touch screen, he rhetorically asked, “How are we going to communicate with this?” His ready answer was, “We’re going to use the best pointing device in the world . . . our fingers.”

  • Explanations of new products or services require context, a relevance to a problem in your customer’s life that is causing that person “pain.” Once the pain is established, your listener will be much more receptive to a product or service that will alleviate that pain.

  • The problem need not take long to establish. Jobs generally takes just a few minutes to introduce the antagonist. You can do so in as little as thirty seconds. Simply create a one-sentence answer for the following four questions: (1) What do you do? (2) What problem do you solve? (3) How are you different? (4) Why should I care?

  • Introduce the antagonist early in your presentation. Always establish the problem before revealing your solution. You can do so by painting a vivid picture of your customers’ pain point. Set up the problem by asking, “Why do we need this?” Spend some time describing the problem in detail. Make it tangible. Build the pain. Create an elevator pitch for your product using the fourstep method described in this chapter. Pay particular attention to question number 2, “What problem do you solve?” Remember, nobody cares about your product. People care about solving their problems.

  • Steve Jobs is a master at creating villains—the more treacherous, the better. Once Jobs introduces the antagonist of the moment (the limitation to current products), he introduces the hero, revealing the solution that will make your life easier and more enjoyable. In other words, an Apple product arrives in time to save the day. IBM played the antagonist in the 1984 television ad, as discussed in Scene 6. Jobs revealed the ad for the first time to a group of internal salespeople at an event in the fall of 1983. Before showing the ad, Jobs spent several minutes painting “Big Blue” into a character bent on world domination. (It helped that IBM was known as Big Blue at the time. The similar ring to Big Brother was not lost on Jobs.) Jobs made Big Blue look more menacing than Hannibal Lecter: It is 1958. IBM passes up the chance to a buy a new, fledgling company that has invented a new technology called xerography. Two years later, Xerox is born, and IBM has been kicking itself ever since. It is ten years later. The late sixties. Digital Equipment, DEC, and others invent the minicomputer. IBM 75 dismisses the minicomputer as too small to do serious computing and therefore unimportant to their business. DEC grows to become a multihundred-million-dollar corporation, while IBM finally enters the minicomputer market. It is now ten years later. The late seventies. In 1977, Apple, a young, fledgling company on the West Coast, invents the Apple II, the first personal computer as we know it today [introduces the hero]. IBM dismisses the personal computer as too small to do serious computing and unimportant to their business [the villain overlooking the hero’s qualities]. The early eighties. In 1981, Apple II has become the world’s most popular computer, and Apple has grown into a $300 million company, becoming the fastest-growing corporation in American business history. With over fifty competitors vying for a share, IBM enters the personal computer market in November 1981, with the IBM PC. 1983. Apple and IBM emerge as the industry’s strongest competitors, each selling over $1 billion in personal computers in 1983 [David has now matched Goliath]. The shakeout is in full swing. The first major firm goes bankrupt, with others teetering on the brink. It is now 1984. It appears IBM wants it all [the hero is about to spring into action]. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. Dealers initially welcoming IBM with open arms now fear an IBM-dominated and -controlled future. They are increasingly and desperately turning back to Apple as the only force that will ensure their future freedom.1 The audience broke out into wild cheers as Jobs created a classic showdown. Jobs played his best James Bond. Just as the villain is about to destroy the world, Bond—or Jobs—enters the scene and calmly saves the day. Ian Fleming would be proud.  
  • After identifying the villain and introducing the hero, the next step in the Apple narrative is to show how the hero clearly offers the victim—the consumer—an escape from the villain’s grip. The solution must be simple and free of jargon.

  • Describe the state of the industry (or product category) as it currently stands, followed by your vision of where it could be. Once you have established the antagonist—your customers’ pain point—describe in plain English how your company, product, or service offers a cure for that pain. Remember, Steve Jobs believes that unless you’re passionate about a problem that you want to make right, you won’t have the perseverance to stick it out.

  • Steve Jobs does not give the brain time to get bored. In a thirtyminute period, his presentations include demonstrations, a second or even third speaker, and video clips. Jobs is well aware that even his gifts of persuasion are no match for a tired brain constantly seeking new stimuli. Exactly ten minutes into his presentation at Macworld 2007— and not a second more—Jobs revealed a new Apple television commercial for iTunes and iPods (the one with a dark silhouette of people dancing in front of brightly colored backgrounds— the silhouettes are holding iPods, and the stark white earphones noticeably stick out). “Isn’t that great?” Jobs said as the commercial ended. Jobs essentially provided an “intermission” between the first act of his presentation (music) and the second (the launch of Apple TV, a product designed to play iTunes content on a widescreen TV). Obey the ten-minute rule and give your listeners’ brains a break. Here we go . . . on to Act 2: delivering the experience.  
  • Steve Jobs does not deliver a presentation. He offers an experience.

  • Simplification is a key feature in all of Apple’s designs. Jobs applies the same approach to the way he creates his slides. Every slide is simple, visual, and engaging.   
  • Data is meaningless without context. Jobs makes statistics come alive and, most important, discusses numbers in a context that is relevant to his audience.  
  • The “mere mortals” who experience an “unbelievable” Steve Jobs presentation find it “cool,” “amazing,” and “awesome.” These are just some of the zippy words Jobs uses frequently.  
  • Jobs makes products easy to use by eliminating features and clutter. This process of simplification translates to the way Jobs designs his slides as well.  
  • Where most presenters add as many words as possible to a slide, Jobs removes and removes and removes.

  • A Steve Jobs presentation is strikingly simple, visual, and devoid of bullet points. That’s right—no bullet points. Ever. Of course, this raises the question, would a PowerPoint presentation without bullets still be a PowerPoint presentation? The answer is yes, and a much more interesting one. New research into cognitive functioning—how the brain works—proves that bullet points are the least effective way to deliver important information. Neuroscientists are finding that what passes as a typical presentation is usually the worst way to engage your audience.

  • The influential German painter Hans Hofmann once said, “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” By removing clutter—extraneous information—from his products and presentations, Jobs achieves the ultimate goal: ease of use and clarity.  
  • If you deliver a point and your slide has too many words— and words that do not match what you say—your audience will have a hard time focusing on both you and the slide. In short, wordy slides detract from the experience. Simple slides keep the focus where it belongs—on you, the speaker.

  • Dense information and clutter requires too much effort for your audience. Simplicity is powerful. Empty space implies elegance, quality, and clarity.

  • It takes confidence to deliver your ideas with photographs instead of words. Since you can’t rely on the slides’ text as a crutch, you must have your message down cold. But that’s the difference between Jobs and millions of average communicators in business today. Jobs delivers his ideas simply, clearly, and confidently.

  • Nearly everything you say in any memo, e-mail, or presentation can be edited for conciseness and simplicity. Remember that simplicity applies not just to the words on the slides but also to the words that come out of your mouth.   
  • Avoid bullet points. Always. Well, almost always. Bullet points are perfectly acceptable on pages intended to be read by your audience, like books, documents, and e-mails. In fact, they break up the text quite nicely. Bullet points on presentation slides should be avoided. Pictures are superior. Focus on one theme per slide, and complement that theme with a photograph or image. Learn to create visually aesthetic slides. Above all, keep in mind that you do not have to be an artist to build slides rich in imagery.

  • Rarely do numbers resonate with people until those numbers are placed in a context that people can understand, and the best way to help them understand is to make those numbers relevant to something with which they are already familiar. Five gigabytes may mean nothing to you, but one thousand songs 105 in your pocket opens up an entirely new way for you to enjoy music.

  • Average presenters spew numbers with no context, assuming their audience will share their excitement. Jobs knows that numbers might have meaning to the most ardent fans but are largely meaningless to the majority of potential customers. Jobs makes his numbers specific, relevant, and contextual.

  • When I worked with SanDisk executives to prepare them for a major announcement at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, we took a page from the Steve Jobs playbook. The maker of flash memory cards was introducing a card small enough to fit into a cell phone’s micro SD slot. That’s very tiny. Even bigger news was that it held 12 GB of storage in that small form factor. Now, only gadget geeks would find 12 GB exciting. So, we had to dress up the numbers à la Steve Jobs. Our final announcement went something like this: “Today we’re announcing the first 12 GB memory card for cell phones. It has fifty billion transistors. Think of each transistor as an ant: if you were to put fifty billion end to end, they would circle the globe twice. What does this mean to you? Enough memory to store six hours of movies. Enough memory to listen to music while traveling to the moon . . . and back!” The number 12 GB is largely uninteresting unless you truly understand the implications of the achievement and what it means to you. When SanDisk compared fifty billion transistors to the number of ants that could circle the globe, the company was using an analogy to jazz up the numbers. Analogies point out similar features between two separate things. Sometimes, analogies are the best way to put numbers into a context that people can understand. The more complex the idea, the more important it is to use rhetorical devices such as analogies to facilitate understanding. For example, on November 17, 2008, Intel released a powerful new microprocessor named the Core i7. The new chip represented a significant leap in technology, packing 730 million transistors on a single piece of silicon. Engineers described the technology as “breathtaking.” But that’s because they’re engineers. How could the average consumer and investors appreciate the profound achievement? Intel’s testing chief, John Barton, found the answer. In an interview with the New York Times, Barton said an Intel processor created twenty-seven years ago had 29,000 transistors; the i7 boasted 730 million transistors on a chip the same size. He equated the two by comparing the city of Ithaca, New York (population 29,000), with the continent of Europe (population 730 million). “Ithaca is quite complex in its own right, if you think about all that goes on. If we scale up the population to 730 million, we come to Europe at about the right size. Now take Europe and shrink it until it all fits in the same land mass as Ithaca.”

  • Regardless of what industry you’re in, the numbers you throw around will have little impact on your audience unless and until you make them meaningful. Numbers out of context are simply unimpressive. Whether you’re presenting the data behind a new technology or a particular medical condition, comparing the number to something your listeners can relate to will make your message far more interesting, impactful, and ultimately persuasive.

  • Use data to support the key theme of your presentation. As you do, consider carefully the figures you want to present. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many numbers. Make your data specific, relevant, and contextual. In other words, put the numbers into a context that is relevant to the lives of your listeners. Use rhetorical devices such as analogies to dress up your numbers.   
  • If your presentations are confusing, convoluted, and full of jargon, you will miss an opportunity to engage and excite your listeners. Strive for understanding. Avoid lexical density.

  • Don’t be afraid of using simple words and descriptive adjectives. If you genuinely find a product “amazing,” go ahead and say so. After all, if you’re not excited about it, how do you expect the rest of us to be?

  • The words Jobs chooses to announce a new product have three characteristics: they are simple, concrete, and emotionally charged. Simple. Free of jargon and with few syllables. Concrete. Very specific phrases. Short, tangible descriptions instead of long, abstract discussions. Emotional. Descriptive adjectives.

  • Speaking in jargon carries penalties in a society that values speech free from esoteric, incomprehensible bullshit. Speaking over people’s heads may cost you a job or prevent you from advancing as far as your capabilities might take you otherwise.

  • Jobs isn’t a hype-master as much as he’s the master of the catchphrase. The folks at Apple think long and hard about the words used to describe a product. Language is intended to stir up excitement and create a “must-have” experience for Apple’s customers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Keep in mind that the majority of business language is gobbledygook—dull, abstract, and meaningless. Steve Jobs is anything but dull. Inject some zip into your words.

  • Another way to add zip to your language is to create analogies, comparing an idea or a product to a concept or product familiar to your audience. When Steve Jobs shakes up a market category with the introduction of an entirely new product, he goes out of his way to compare the product to something that is widely understood, commonly used, and well known. Here are some examples: ”Apple TV is like a DVD player for the twenty-first century.”

  • When you find an analogy that works, stick with it. The more you repeat it, the more likely your customers are to remember it. If you do a Google search for articles about the products just mentioned, you will find thousands of links with the exact comparisons that Jobs himself used.

  • Your listeners and viewers are attempting to categorize a product—they need to place the concept in a mental bucket. Create the mental bucket for them. If you don’t, you are making their brains work too hard.

  • Unclutter your copy. Eliminate redundant language, buzzwords, and jargon. Edit, edit, and edit some more. Run your paragraphs through the Using English tool to see just how “dense” it is. Have fun with words. It’s OK to express enthusiasm for your product through superlatives or descriptive adjectives. Jobs thought the buttons on the Macintosh screen looked so good that you would want to “lick” them. That’s confidence.  
  • Great actors are often said to be “giving”; they help other actors in the scene give better performances. When Jobs introduces another person onstage—an employee, a partner, or a former nemesis such as Gates—he’s the most giving of performers. Everyone needs to shine for the good of the show.

  • A reference is good. A customer or partner physically sharing the stage is even better.   
  • Successful companies that launch a splashy new product usually have tested it with a group of partners who have agreed to endorse it publicly or distribute review copies to the media and influencers. This arrangement gives those companies instant references, endorsements, and testimonials. Your customers need a reason to believe in you, and they want to minimize the risk associated with a new product or service. Having experts, customers, or partners testify to the effectiveness of your product will help you overcome the psychological barrier to participation.

  • Upon release of a new product or service, make sure you have customers who tested the product and are available to back your claims. Media reviews are also helpful, especially from highly reputable publications or popular blogs. Incorporate testimonials into your presentation. The easiest way is to videotape your customer talking about your product, edit the tape to no more than two minutes in length, and insert it into your presentation. Publicly thank employees, partners, and customers. And do it often.

  • What truly differentiates Montemagno from the majority of presenters is his unbelievable number of props and demonstrations. Here are three guidelines he follows to create dynamic moments:
    1. Give your audience something to do. Montemagno’s audience members get a pen and paper before taking their seats. During the presentation, he asks them to turn to the person next to them and, in thirty seconds, sketch the person’s portrait. After that, he asks them to write the title of their favorite song, movie, and so forth. They then pass the paper around, continuing until each paper has changed hands up to five times. Everyone eventually takes home a piece of paper that once belonged to someone else. The exercise is intended to demonstrate how information is shared among individuals across networks.
    2. Ask someone to share the stage. In other parts of his presentation, Montemagno will ask for volunteers to join him onstage. In one exercise, he asks them to fold a T-shirt. Most people will take about twenty seconds and fold the shirt in a conventional way. When they’re done, he shows a popular YouTube video of someone demonstrating how to fold a shirt in five seconds. Montemagno then duplicates the feat as the audience cheers. His point is that the Internet can instruct on a deep, intellectual level, but it can also make the most mundane tasks easier.
    3. Make use of your skills onstage. Montemagno is a former world-ranked table tennis player and works that unique skill into his presentations. He invites another professional player onstage, and the two hit the ball back and forth quickly and effortlessly. As they do, Montemagno, speaking into a wireless headset, compares table tennis to the Internet. Steve Jobs has elevated presentations to an art form, but few of us will ever introduce a product as world-changing as a revolutionary new computer.   
  • Each new Apple product or application contains numerous benefits and features, but Jobs will often highlight just one. Think of it like a movie trailer that teases the audience by revealing only the best parts. If people want the full experience, they’ll have to watch the movie.

  • Build in a product demo during the planning phase of your presentation. Keep the demo short, sweet, and substantial. If you can introduce another person on your team to participate in the demonstration, do so. Commit to the demo. Comedians say a joke works only if you commit to it. In the same way, commit to your demo, especially if your product has any entertainment value at all. Have fun with it. Provide something for every type of learner in your audience: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.

  • Every office worker has seen a manila envelope. But where most people see a manila envelope as a means of distributing documents, Steve Jobs sees a memorable moment that will leave his audience in awe. “This is the MacBook Air,” he said in January 2008, “so thin it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office.” With that, Jobs walked to the side of the stage, picked up one such envelope, and pulled out a notebook computer. The audience went wild as the sound of hundreds of cameras clicking and flashing filled the auditorium. Like a proud parent showing off a newborn, Jobs held the computer head-high for all to see. “You can get a feel for how thin it is. It has a full-size keyboard and full-size display. Isn’t it amazing? It’s the world’s thinnest notebook,” said Jobs.1 The photo of Jobs pulling the computer from the envelope proved to be the most popular of the event and was carried by major newspapers, magazines, and websites. The dramatic introduction even sparked an entrepreneur to build a carrying sleeve for the MacBook Air that looked like, you guessed it, a manila envelope.

  • The secret to creating a memorable moment is to identify the one thing—the one theme—that you want your audience to remember after leaving the room. Your listeners should not need to review notes, slides, or transcripts of the presentation to recall the one thing. They will forget many of the details, but they will remember 100 percent of what they feel. Think about the one thing Apple wanted you to know about MacBook Air: it’s the world’s thinnest notebook. That’s it. A customer could learn more by visiting the website or an Apple store; the presentation was meant to create an experience and to bring the headline to life. It struck an emotional connection with the listener. Jobs had one key message that he wanted to deliver about the first iPod: it fits one thousand songs in your pocket.

  • Every Steve Jobs presentation—major product announcements and minor ones—is scripted to have one moment that will leave everyone talking. The product takes center stage, but Jobs plays the role of director. Jobs is the Steven Spielberg of corporate presentations. What do you remember most from Spielberg’s movies? Spielberg always has one scene that sticks in your memory for years: Indiana Jones pulling a pistol to kill the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the opening scene of Jaws, or E.T. asking to phone home. In the same way, Jobs creates one moment that will define the experience. Jobs has changed many things about his presentation style over the past thirty years, including his wardrobe, slides, and style. Through it all, one thing has remained consistent—his love of drama.  
  • Plan a “holy shit” moment. It need not be a breakthrough announcement. Something as simple as telling a personal story, revealing some new and unexpected information, or delivering a demonstration can help create a memorable moment for your audience. Movie directors such as Steven Spielberg look for those emotions that uplift people, make them laugh, or make them think. People crave beautiful, memorable moments. Build them into your presentation. The more unexpected, the better.

  • Script the moment. Build up to the big moment before laying it on your audience. Just as a great novel doesn’t give away the entire plot on the first page, the drama should build in your presentation. Did you see the movie The Sixth Sense, with Bruce Willis? The key scene was at the end of the movie—one twist that the majority of viewers didn’t see coming. Think about ways to add the element of surprise to your presentations. Create at least one memorable moment that will amaze your audience and have them talking well after your presentation is over. Rehearse the big moment. Do not make the mistake of creating a memorable experience and having it bomb because you failed to practice. It must come off crisp, polished, and effortless. Make sure demos work and slides appear when they’re supposed to.  
  • Following are seven of Schiller’s techniques that Jobs himself would surely have used had he given the keynote:1 Create Twitter-like headlines. Schiller set the theme of the day right up front. “Today is all about the Mac,” he told the audience. This opening is reminiscent of how Jobs opened the two preceding Macworld shows. Jobs told the 2008 audience that something was in the air, foreshadowing the MacBook Air announcement, and in 2007, Jobs said that Apple was going to make history that day. It sure did when Jobs later introduced the iPhone. Draw a road map. Schiller verbally outlined a simple agenda at the beginning of his presentation and provided verbal reminders along the way. Just as Jobs uses the rule of three to describe products, Schiller also introduced the presentation as three separate categories. “I have three new things to tell you about today,” he said (accompanying slide read: “3 New Things”). The first was a new version of iLife. The second 161 product he discussed was a new version of iWork. Finally, the third was a new MacBook seventeen-inch Pro notebook computer. Dress up numbers. As his boss does, Schiller added meaning to numbers. He told the audience that 3.4 million customers visit an Apple store every week. To give his audience a relevant perspective, Schiller said, “That’s one hundred Macworlds each and every week.” Stage the presentation with props. Demonstrations play a prominent role in every Steve Jobs presentation. Schiller also used the technique smoothly and effectively. As Jobs likely would have done had he given the presentation, Schiller sat down at a computer on the stage and demonstrated several new features that come standard in ’09 versions of iLife and iWork. My favorite demo was the new Keynote ’09, which comes closer than ever to letting everyday users create Jobslike slides without an expertise in graphic design. Share the stage. Schiller did not hog the spotlight. He shared the stage with employees who had more experience in areas that were relevant to the new products he introduced. For a demo of iMovie ’09, a new version of the video-editing software, Schiller deferred to an Apple engineer who actually created the tool. When Schiller revealed the new seventeen inch MacBook Pro, he said the battery was the most innovative feature of the notebook computer. To explain further, Schiller showed a video that featured three Apple employees describing how they were able to build a battery that lasted eight hours on a single charge without adding to the notebook’s size, weight, or price. Create visual slides. There are very few words on a Steve Jobs slide, and there were few on Schiller’s slides as well. The first few slides had no words at all, simply photographs. Schiller started by giving the audience a tour of some of the new Apple stores that had opened around the world the past year. There were no bullet points on Schiller’s slides. When Schiller did present a list of features, he used the fewest words possible and often paired the words with an image.   
  • Deliver a “holy shit” moment. In true Steve Jobs fashion, Schiller surprised the audience by announcing “just one more thing” to close his presentation. He applied the rule of three as he had done earlier, but this time to iTunes. He said there were three new things for iTunes in 2009: a change to the pricing structure, the ability of iPhone customers to download and buy songs on their 3G cellular network, and the fact that all iTunes songs would be DRM free (i.e., without copy protection). Schiller received a big round of applause when he announced that eight million songs would be DRM free “starting today” and got an even bigger round of applause when he said that all ten million songs on iTunes would be DRM free by the end of the quarter. Schiller knew that DRM-free songs in iTunes would be the big headline of the day, and he saved it for last. The announcement did, indeed, dominate the news coverage that followed.

  • The words Jobs uses to describe a product are obviously important, but so is the style in which he delivers the words. He punches key words in every paragraph, adding extra emphasis to the most important words in the sentence. He makes expansive gestures to complement his vocal delivery.

  • The words Jobs uses to describe a product are obviously important, but so is the style in which he delivers the words. He punches key words in every paragraph, adding extra emphasis to the most important words in the sentence. He makes expansive gestures to complement his vocal delivery. We’ll examine his body language and vocal delivery more closely later in the chapter, but for now, the best way to appreciate his skill is to call on a guest speaker who pales in comparison.

  • Jobs comes alive when he is up and moving onstage. He has seemingly boundless energy. When he’s at his best, Jobs does three things anyone can, and should, do to enhance one’s speaking and presentation skills: he makes eye contact, maintains an open posture, and uses frequent hand gestures.

  • Be astonishing. Rehearse your presentation, and pay close attention to your body language and verbal delivery.

  • Most presenters sound as though they are trying to rush through the material. In many ways, they are, because they scripted more material than the time allows. Jobs never hurries. His presentation is carefully rehearsed to give him plenty of time to slow down, pause, and let his message take hold. Jobs will lower and raise his voice to add drama. He typically does this when introducing a hot new product. He often lowers his voice as he builds up to the announcement and then raises his volume to hit the big note. He’ll do the opposite as well. When he introduced the first iPod, he raised his voice and said, “To have your whole music library with you at all times is a quantum leap in listening to music.” He then lowered his voice and delivered the knockout: “But the coolest thing about iPod is your entire music library fits in your pocket.”6 Just as inflections and pauses keep your audience riveted to your every word, so does the volume of your voice.

  • Steve Jobs is a master showman, working the stage with precision. Every move, demo, image, and slide is in sync. He appears comfortable, confident, and remarkably effortless. At least, it looks effortless to the audience. Here’s his presentation secret: Jobs rehearses for hours. To be more precise: many, many hours over many, many days. “Jobs unveils Apple’s latest products as if he were a particularly hip and plugged-in friend showing off inventions in your living room. Truth is, the sense of informality comes only after gruelling hours of practice,” observed a BusinessWeek reporter.
    • Eye contact. Commit most of your presentation to memory to avoid reading from notes. Your slides should act as your cue. Public-speaking expert Andrew Carnegie observed that notes destroy the intimacy between speaker and audience and make the speaker appear less powerful and confident. Notice that I didn’t tell you to give the presentation “completely” without notes. Steve Jobs keeps notes out of his audience’s sight. Only a careful observer would spot him glancing at them. He refers to notes during demonstrations, but since the audience’s attention is on the demo itself, his notes do not detract from the presentation. The notes he does keep onstage are also unobtrusive and simple. He just needs to glance at them to find his place. Although it’s easier in Keynote than PowerPoint to have a notes page for the speaker’s view, you should still strive to deliver most of your presentation with no notes at all.
    • Body language. Is your body language strong, confident, and commanding? Are your arms crossed or open? Are you keeping your hands in your pockets instead of keeping an open posture? Do you fidget, rock, or have other distracting habits? Are your gestures natural and purposeful or stiff and wooden? Remember that body language and verbal delivery account for the majority of the impression you leave on your listeners. Your body language should reflect the confidence of your words. 
    • Filler words. Are you constantly using “um,” “ah,” and “you know” to fill the space between thoughts? Just as text shouldn’t fill every inch of your slide, your words shouldn’t fill every pause between sentences. Reviewing your performance is the best way to eliminate these often distracting fillers. Once you catch yourself a few times, you will be more aware of the habit next time. Awareness is more than 90 percent of the solution!
    • Vocal delivery. Vary the volume and inflection of your voice to keep the attention of your audience riveted on your words. Raise and lower your volume at different points in your presentation. Change your cadence. Varying the speed at which you talk will keep your presentation from sounding monotone. Speed up at certain points and then slow down. Pause for impact. Again, nothing is as dramatic as a well-placed pause. Don’t sound rushed. Let the presentation breathe.
    • Energy. Do you look as if you rolled out of bed on a Sunday morning, or do you appear vibrant, enthusiastic, and genuinely thrilled to be sharing your story with the audience? We all enjoy being around people with energy. They inspire us. They are stimulating, fun, and uplifting. An energetic person has passion in his voice, a bounce in his step, and a smile on his face. Energy makes a person likable, and likability is a key ingredient in persuasive communications. Many business professionals underestimate the energy level required to generate enthusiasm among their listeners. Electrifying speakers such as Jobs bring it. Jobs always has more energy than most other speakers who share the stage with him.  
  • Most business professionals could use an energy boost. But how do you project the right level of vigor without seeming over the top? By weighing yourself on an energy scale. And on this scale, more is better. I often ask clients, “On a scale of one to ten—one being fast asleep and ten being wildly pumped up like motivational speaker Tony Robbins—tell me where you are right now.” “A three,” most of my clients reply. “OK,” I say, “what would it feel like to be a seven, eight, or nine? Give it a try.” If they’re being honest, most presenters place themselves at a three to six on the energy scale. That means there is plenty of room to raise their energy level. Energy is hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Television host Rachael Ray has it. President Barack Obama and Tony Robbins have it as well. These three individuals have different styles, but they speak with energy. Try this exercise—practice leaving your comfort zone: Record several minutes of your presentation as you would normally deliver it. Play it back, preferably with someone else watching. Ask yourself and the observer, “Where am I on the energy scale?” Now try it again. This time, break out of your comfort zone. Ham it up. Raise your voice. Use broad gestures. Put a big smile on your face. Get to a point where you would feel slightly awkward and uncomfortable if you actually delivered the presentation that way. Now watch it again. Odds are your energy will be just right. You see, most people underestimate how little energy they actually have during a presentation. When they are asked to go “over the top” and to leave their comfort zone, they hit the right note.

  • Dress like the leader you want to become, not for the position you currently have. Great leaders dress a little better than everyone else in the room. Remember, when Jobs was looking for funding at the bank, he dressed in an expensive suit. Wear clothes that are appropriate for the culture. Steve Jobs can get away with a black mock, blue jeans, and running shoes because everything about his brand is built on the concept of disrupting the status quo. If you’re going to dress like a rebel, dress like a well-off rebel. Jobs wears St. Croix sweaters. It might look like a black T-shirt—but at least he spends money on it.

  • Following are five steps that will help you memorize your script while making you appear as natural as a gifted actor or a gifted presenter such as Steve Jobs:
    1. Write your script in full sentences in the “notes” section of PowerPoint. This is not the time for extensive editing. Simply write your ideas in complete sentences. Do try, however, to keep your ideas to no more than four or five sentences.
    2. Highlight or underline the key word from each sentence, and practice your presentation. Run through your script without worrying about stumbling or forgetting a point. Glance at the key words to jog your memory.
    3. Delete extraneous words from your scripted sentences, leaving only the key words. Practice your presentation again, this time using only the key words as reminders.
    4. Memorize the one key idea per slide. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I want my audience to take away from the slide?” The visual on the slide should complement the one theme. In this case, the visual becomes your prompter. For example, when Jobs talked about the Intel Core 2 Duo as the standard processor built into the MacBook Air, his slide showed only a photo of the processor. The “one thing” he wanted the audience to know was that Apple had built an ultrathin computer with no compromise in performance.
    5. Practice the entire presentation without notes, simply using the slides as your prompter. By the time you execute these five steps, you will have rehearsed each slide four times, which is much more time than the average speaker commits to practicing a presentation.  
  • Don’t read from notes except in special circumstances in which you must follow a step-by-step process, such as a demonstration. When you must read from notes, create no more than three or four large-font bullet points on one note card or sheet of paper. Create one note card per slide. If you’re using speaker’s notes in Keynote or PowerPoint presentation software, keep your bullet points to no more than three or four. One is even better.

  • Use the visuals on your slide to prompt you to deliver just one key theme—one main message—per slide. Think “one theme per slide.”

  • Treat presentations as “infotainment.” Your audience wants to be educated and entertained. Have fun. It’ll show. Never apologize. You have little to gain from calling attention to a problem. If your presentation hits a glitch, acknowledge it, smile, and move on. If it was not obvious to anyone but you, do not call attention to it. Change your frame of reference. When something does not go exactly as planned, it did not “go wrong” unless you allow it to derail the rest of your presentation. Keep the big picture in mind, have fun, and let the small stuff roll off your back.