Presentations the Steve Jobs Way

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Steve Jobs was a masterful corporate storyteller, and his legacy continues to inspire the world. His keynote speeches draw thousands of views on YouTube and have had an immense impact on leaders and business professionals. Through my work in reviewing, analyzing, and sharing his presentation techniques, I hope to help these individuals carry on their legacy by communicating their ideas effectively.

Do you have a big presentation coming up? Need some help on how to deliver the best content? Believe it or not, Steve Jobs can be a big source of inspiration. A Wall Street Journal article recently featured managers who took notes from Walter Isaacson’s biography and one of my books. But emulating Steve Jobs’ wardrobe isn’t enough! That’s why I’m outlining 11 tips to help you nail your next presentation. They come from his famous iPhone launch in 2007 and draw on skills like informing, inspiring, and entertaining your audience. If you’re looking for quick wins then watch my video: only three techniques (7 minutes) can give you an extra boost before heading off to present. For the full package, however, read on for more!

1- Time limit 

Before delivering your presentation, it’s important to have an understanding of the time allotted for you. Knowing this ahead of time will allow you to prepare and avoid having to rush toward the end or leave out essential points. Whether it is a short pitch or extended discussion, this awareness can help quell any anxiety and provide confidence when taking the stage. Making sure you plan the content according to the given amount of time not only alleviates stress during delivery but also gives you a beneficial opportunity to make a strong conclusion–effectively driving home a point that is emphasized throughout.


2- Tell a story 

The ability to recall a story is one of many characteristics that make us human. Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University is often lauded for its powerful storytelling capabilities. Specifically, Jobs told three personal stories throughout the speech — including his experience taking a calligraphy course in college without knowing what he would use it for, yet ultimately using those skills to revolutionize desktop publishing with fancy fonts on the Macintosh computer. His motivational tale exemplifies how the right combination of grit and serendipity can lead to success.


3- Create analogies.

Metaphors and stories have a special place in our brains – they aid us in understanding unfamiliar concepts. Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors, is well-known for his analogies when describing complex financial topics. In particular, his quote about identifying good investments as “economic castles protected by unbreachable moats” has sparked a lasting interest. When used thoughtfully, an analogy can be quite powerful!


4- Express your passion

Steve Jobs shared a passion for design, and he wore his enthusiasm with pride. Following the debut of the iPhone, Steve said, “It looks pretty doggone gorgeous” – his clear adoration of the product was evident on his face. By using words such as “cool,” “amazing,” or “gorgeous,” Steve inspired others to be passionate about what he created – it’s important to display your enthusiasm when presenting an idea to captivate your audience.

To maximize captivation when delivering a presentation, it is essential to make clear why the subject matter is important. Breaking up information with data and statistics provides an opportunity to emphasize the sense of urgency that may be lacking in audience members. By inciting interest at the beginning of the talk, you set yourself up for better engagement throughout.

Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 90s, but Steve Jobs’ return after a 12-year absence kicked off an amazing turnaround. At a meeting held by Jobs, he wore his iconic black turtleneck and shorts and addressed his employees about the importance of passion. Not only to those who attended it help spur Apple back to life – it encouraged everyone to believe that with enough enthusiasm, anybody can make a difference in the world. With Jobs famously declaring “People with passion can change the world for the better,” it’s no wonder why so many people look up to him as such a great leader.


5- Show photos, images, and videos.

The neuroscience of persuasion has shown that humans tend to recall images better than words. This concept is referred to as the ‘picture superiority effect.’ It can be used strategically to maximize the impact of persuasive texts and visuals. Utilizing this knowledge can give you a significant advantage.


It’s been statistically validated that adding visuals to a presentation significantly bolsters comprehension and retention. According to the Social Science Research Network, employing graphics in presentations has shown an increment of 65% while relaying the material verbally resulted in low memorization estimations of only 10%. However, it shouldn’t be misconstrued as imploring users to fill their slides with photos and very little white space. Steve Jobs behaviorally caricatured this approach when introducing the iPad by placing the word ‘iPad’ in between pictures of the iPhone and Macbook on one slide which was followed by having solely an image of the iPad absent of all text.


6- Practice Relentlessly

Steve Jobs was renowned as a master of preparation. In the lead-up to the launch of any new product, his stage rehearsals could last many hours and weeks. As a result, his final presentations were seamless, with every detail accounted for—from font sizing to product demos. He demonstrated this level of preparedness when introducing the iPhone: 80 minutes and not a single note was used! His effortless presentations were the result of tirelessly rehearsing until everything was perfectly in sync. To emulate Steve Jobs’s presentation success, strive to achieve this same level of commitment and excellence in all your future presentations.


7- Have Fun

Steve Jobs demonstrated exceptional composure when things didn’t go according to plan during his keynote presentation. In one particular instance, after the clicker malfunctioned, he gracefully sidetracked into a story about the early days of designing the Mac. His ability to maintain calm amidst difficulty and inject humor into the situation shows that presenters should remain composed in unexpected scenarios, using them as an opportunity for lightheartedness. This speaks to why it’s important not to worry over minor mishaps – let yourself relax and bring some fun into your presentation!

8- Connect Emotionally

Developing a meaningful message is paramount to reaching an audience. Leaders should strive to understand the emotions and perspectives of their employees, creating bonds that drive understanding and action. Being able to explain the vision straightforwardly without relying on corporate language is essential for creating these connections. As Black points out, “Leaders need to provide meaning through stories and creating relatable messages; effectively communicating company objectives is key.”


9- Inspire your audience

Steve Jobs was an expert at delivering captivating presentations; one can achieve success too if you are willing to put in hard work and creativity. If people are listening to your ideas, make sure you make it count.

Throughout his keynote speeches, Steve Jobs always delighted in ending on a positive and inspiring note. At the end of his presentation on the iPhone, he said, “I was so eager with anticipation I couldn’t get any sleep last night. I’m reminded of a quote I love by Wayne Gretzky that goes ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ At Apple this has been our goal since its founding – we’re continually striving to move forward and will continue to do so in the future.” 



To create truly impactful presentations, one must be knowledgeable on the subject and be able to condense the main themes into succinct points. Using imagery and data that captivate attention goes a long way in presenting material effectively. In the modern era, videos and storytelling are more effective than a basic textual presentation.

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