Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs: 9 tips on how to do it

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, is best remembered for giving us revolutionary products like the iPhone. He left behind a legacy that changed the computer, music, film, and wireless industries. One of the keys to Jobs’s phenomenal success lies in his storytelling. The way he presented Apple products was remarkable. But, how to deliver a presentation like Steve Jobs?

Here are the main steps to master your presentation:

  1. Show Your Passion While You Deliver a Presentation
  2. Use Visual Media
  3. Give Meaning to Numbers
  4. Create a Story
  5. Attract the Attention Towards Yourself, Not the Presentation
  6. Try to Strike an Immediate Connection With the Audience
  7. Know the One Critical Point You Want to Drive Home
  8. The Essential Use of Humor
  9. Know Your Time Limit

There’s no doubt he had great ideas that became a large part of our lives, but his point of view alone wasn’t why he became a success.

Animated image of Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs Illustration

Everybody has ideas. You, me, and the guy sitting next to you on the train have them. We all think of how things should be or how to fix problems, but not many act upon them. 

Those who decide to work and make something out of their ideas don’t always hit the jackpot. It’s not because they were bad, but instead because they couldn’t communicate it well.

Steve Jobs was a genius in public speaking. His unique style sparked a cult-like following of Apple products and inspired many speakers and executives to follow his style. He didn’t have a complicated model for his speeches but instead followed some basic rules every time. He showed his passion.

1. Show Your Passion While You Deliver a Presentation

Passion is the drive that pushes you. The best part about passion is that it’s contagious. If you show people why you’re passionate about your idea, they too will feel it and want to be a part of it. 

In a company, passion starts from the ground up. It begins with the founder, spreading through the employees, and eventually, the customers. A company that understands and feels its leader’s passion is a successful one.

It can be challenging to keep your audience attentive while you deliver a presentation. People have a meager attention span, especially in situations that don’t interest them.

That’s why you must start by telling them why this project matters. Use data and statistics while you deliver a presentation to prove your point and develop that sense of urgency.

Apple in the 90s

Apple was in danger of going bankrupt when Steve Jobs returned after an absence of 12 years. He held a meeting that brought Apple back to life. 

Dressed in his famous black turtleneck and shorts, Jobs spoke to his company about the passion behind the company and himself. He said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.”

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Remember, passion isn’t just restricted to a product or service, but it can be for a set of values as well.

2. Use Visual Media 

People respond better to images and videos over verbal communication. So when you deliver a presentation, make sure it has appropriate visuals.

Steve jobs deliver a presentation on iPad launch
Steve Jobs launching the iPad

In a study by Social Science Research Network, it was found that by adding an image to a presentation, retention is boosted by 65%. But passing on the information only by mouth left individuals remembering only 10% of it.

But that doesn’t mean you should plaster slides with images and no blank space. 

Steve Jobs kept it simple. He would use one or two images and minimal text. Like when Jobs introduced the iPad, his first slide had the word ‘iPad’ between the picture of the I-phone and the Macbook. It was followed by a slide holding only an image of the iPad and no text.

Steve Jobs launching the iPad

Because of his simplicity and uncluttered slides, it was easier for people to understand what he was talking about and stay focused. Large images took most of his screen space, leaving only a line or so for text and plenty of blank space.

3. Give Meaning to Numbers

Numbers need to be put into perspective if you want your audience to understand the depth of it. But how to deliver a presentation using numbers without annoying them?

Steve Jobs introduced the storage size of a 5 GB iPod as “this device has 1000 songs which fit into your pocket.” By putting numbers into words, people are better able to grasp what it means.

Steve Jobs presentation

Another great technique was using clean chart images to make the message very clear to the audience.

4. Create a Story

Steve Jobs enjoyed portraying his company as a hero.

When IBM decided to follow Apple into personal computers, Jobs painted his rival as the antagonist in his talks. He crafted a narrative in which Apple was the only safe space left for creative geniuses after being attacked by the evil IBM.

He delivered speeches by informing, educating, and entertaining.

Inform your customers of the benefits of your product when you deliver a presentation on your products. They need to know what’s in it for them if they use their product, giving them a straight answer. Let them know what they will gain by using your product and what problems it will fix or avoid.

Following this great advice, you will increase your chances to impress and be more confident in how to deliver a presentation as good as those done by Jobs.

5. Attract the Attention Towards Yourself, Not the Presentation

There is little doubt about the importance of your slides. But the key to delivering a memorable presentation like Steve Jobs lies in understanding the importance of the speaker, i.e., you.

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Attracts attention towards yourself

So, while you deliver a presentation, avoid pointing towards the presentation very often. If you are to give a robust and impactful performance, make sure the audience remembers what you say more than the slides show.

There are little tricks that can be used to get the audiences’ attention off the slides. Inserting blank slides in the presentation would force your listeners’ attention back to you.

It is during these blank sides when you need to be at your best. Not all the listeners would like the sudden blank slide. Make sure they consider listening to you standing in front of a blank slide worth their while.

6. Try to Strike an Immediate Connection With the Audience

That’s how Steve Jobs started most of his presentation. He was a master at establishing an immediate, personal bond with different audiences.

There can be many ways of doing it, like starting on a lighter note or beginning with a short tale that revolves around your presentation's main purpose.

Capture attention around main points of your presentation

Make the audience feel you’re genuinely providing them with a solution even when you’re there to sell the idea.

First of all, it makes the audience listen to you with much more interest and attention. It builds a sense of empathy that any other short-cut technique cannot create.

If you want your audience to be more receptive to what you’re saying, this personal connection needs to be earned at the earliest.

7. Know the One Critical Point You Want to Drive Home

A presentation might have many points, reasoning, data, and narratives blended in it, but there’s one critical point. This is the point you want to drive home eventually. The first step would be to know what that point is.

Do your preparation and know for yourself what you want to put out there and convince the audience about it.

Everything about the presentation, from the statistics and numbers to the arguments you layout, should strengthen your claim in driving that critical point home.

If you stray out of the line, even for a few minutes, it will take the audiences’ attention from that point, and you will have to build your case right from scratch.

Steve Jobs was a master at this, and you can be great at it as well, given that you prepare well for the presentation and stick to the objective throughout.

8. The Essential Use of Humor

Many would downplay the importance of humor in presentations, but it can be a convenient tool for connecting with your audience. Firstly, the appropriate use of fun in the right way would set the listeners at ease and prevents your presentation from turning into a boring monologue.

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No matter how articulate you are with your points and how precise you are with your numbers. You won’t be able to drive the point home if your presentation isn’t entertaining in bits and pieces.

Secondly, it will calm your nerves down, and you will feel a more intimate, kind of casual connection with your audiences.

This goes a long way, especially in presentations that last very long. Sometimes all you need to give your presentation is a pinch of humor to stay in the listeners' memory for a longer time.

9. Know Your Time Limit

This may sound obvious, but it does deserve mention.

You have to know beforehand the amount of time you’ve been given for a presentation. Once you know your time limit, you can then plan your presentation. Make sure you put in the essential points, and you don’t have to rush towards the end.

Know whether it is a half-an-hour pitching or lengthy presentation before you going on the stage. This will help you kill off the anxiety, and you won’t have to look over your shoulder for the buzzer always.

You can go through the presentation smoothly if you’ve planned it according to the time limit. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to conclude your presentation correctly, which is extremely important in rounding off the one critical point you’ve put out there.

In Conclusion

There is no big secret to doing excellent presentations. Know your stuff, be concise and short on the theme, use examples and numbers that captivate attention, feel comfortable with the topic.

You certainly know that images capt more attention than text. You would catch attention with videos and good storytelling in the current days than with a black and white PowerPoint textual presentation.

Show the passion you have for the subject. Even if you’re not entirely in love with it, you know more than others, so try to feel the energy about teaching others.

You probably know more about it than the vast majority, if not all the audience. So feel free to speak about your knowledge. And don’t feel shy about one or other mistakes, it can happen, and you will probably be better if you stay calm and keep the show going on.

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