Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to Speak like Steve Jobs

Yesterday's release of the iPad reminds me that I forgot to point you to last week's Financial Post column, which looked at Steve Jobs' secrets of public speaking.

The starting point was a book I just read called The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.

The book is a useful review of standard speaking practices, with a dollop of passion and personality from the iconoclastic co-founder of Apple Computer. Author Carmine Gallo isn't a great writer, so the book rarely soars, but the general principles are worthwhile:

* "Answer the one question that matters most." Reduce complex situations to simple solutions.

* "Sell the benefit." Don't just describe your solution, explain why people should care (e.g., "Apple's Genius tool creates playlists from songs in your library that go great together, with just one click").

* "Create Twitter-like headlines." Examples: "Today Apple reinvents the phone!" "Keynote was built for me!"

* "One theme per slide." Focus on single images, not bullet points.

I was particularly pleased to see Gallo identify a story-telling device that I have seen Jobs use, but could never put a name to: “Introduce the Antagonist.” To make you see the world his way, Jobs sets out what’s wrong with the status quo before introducing his solution.

When he launched the new video-equipped Nano, for instance, one of his slides compellingly compared the ultra-thin Nano to today’s suddenly-bulky Flip camcorders (see pic at left).

You can detect the same technique in many Jobs quotes. He forces you to buy his arguments by painting a dismal picture of the alternatives.

We can all learn from this. Consider Job's famous pitch in wooing Pepsi executive John Sculley to join Apple: “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Same device exactly.

To learn more about demolishing the status quo, read the full story here.

2 comments:

pos pat said...

"Introducing the antagonist" is indeed an excellent technique for bringing people around to your ideas. After all; nothing unites us like having a common enemy.

Several tips said...

Good post.