BOOK REVIEW: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Although the legendary Steve Jobs is no longer with us, his presentation style continues to be discussed as a combination of mystery, showmanship, and change. The presentations by Apple were (and continue to try to be) something just a bit different, that can keep us engaged.
When The Presentation of Secrets of Steve Jobs was published in 2009, I dove right into the book to understand the differences in Steve’s presentations versus what I had to sit through at work. If you have been in business more than a year, you know that slide-based presentation tools have morphed from the early days of presentation support to full-on reporting by screen pages. As a former management consultant I wondered sometimes if consultants thought they got paid by the number of words on a slide, not the hours recorded.
Like everything, Steve Jobs’ presentation style became a trend that I saw senior leaders enthusiastically copy. But unlike in sales presentations (where there is a big reveal), some presentations didn’t support this style as well. I remembering going back to a senior leader’s presentation to reference something that was said, only to realize that the entire deck was made up of various landscape pictures. There was nothing to refer to!
The author, Carmine Gallo breaks down the true nature of these amazing presentations into three acts:
Act 1: Create the Story
Act 2: Deliver the Experience
Act 3: Refine and Rehearse
For as much as leaders emulated the presentation style, the true difference was working through these three acts before the presentation. What is the story you want to share (and a story is more interesting than reciting a bunch of numbers)? What is the experience people should walk away remembering? And finally, refine and rehearse. It can’t be said enough. Any time in a presentation when I begin to glaze over, I think – there was a spot that needed refining.
My core takeaway from this book has been to focus on three-key things for the audience. Make those three things as clear and engaging as possible. And present as if you’re having a conversation (no notes, no podium). For some that sounds like a nightmare, but if you truly get this close to your message, the presentation becomes second nature.
I still recommend this book to leaders and consultants today. In business, communication is challenging enough, boring presentations don’t need to add to the fray. Think of the last mind-numbing presentation you have sat through, and commit to not making that same mistake.
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