People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou
Have you ever wondered how Steve Jobs captivates an audience. When you read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, you will learn proven techniques, giving you a competitive advantage.
Carmine Gallo structures the book like a classic three act story with scenes representing chapters. At the end of each scene, director’s notes enlighten the actor’s role like a Frank Darabont Shooting Script.
Because Carmine uses a teaching structure that parallels a Steve Jobs’ presentation, students will absorb lessons like a thirsty sponge. If the United States Government had this kind of delivery system for vaccines, the H1N1 virus would be a distant, dust-blown memory.
I want to tell you a secret about this book, a secret that will help you reach career goals. Before I reveal the secret, let’s review the book’s three acts.
Act 1: Create the Story
I’ve always been amazed by the parallels between story and selling solutions to business problems. Carmen’s book reinforces my sense of wonder about story and how we can create stories for business purposes.
In Act I, the author focuses on how to create a story for a presentation. What’s the most important question we can ask in relation to the story? Here it is: Why should the customer care?
Screenwriters ask a similar question based on the fact that all stories are about solving a problem. Is the problem a story-worthy problem? If someone has lost a cell phone and there’s no significant problem, who cares. How can you spin surprises from dross?
On the other hand, if an asteroid the size of Texas is rocketing toward earth, now you have customers who bolt upright and say, “Man, how are you gonna solve that problem?” James Bonnet writes that in solving the problem the solution formula is revealed. Elegant solutions contribute to the power of the story.
In the book, you see how Apple solves story-worthy problems with elegant products. And this problem-solution formula often leads to buzz-worthy catchphrases:
“New iPod Puts 1,000 Songs in Your Pocket.”
Act 2: Deliver the Experience
Steve Jobs uses a presentation as a delivery mechanism for experiences much like a director uses a movie to deliver emotions to an audience.
Mr. Gallo describes six scenes or concepts you can use to design the experience. Let’s look at three of them.
Simplicity - Jobs is known for eliminating extra bells and whistles from software and hardware products. Notice the elegance of the iPod interface. This design philosophy is reflected in his words and slides. He may put a lone word on a slide, “iTunes,” for example, or a picture of a MacBook Air. A sole picture provides the flexibility to speak freely while aligning with educational psychology principles.
Use Zippy Words - The words you choose also determine the quality of your performance. Screenwriters will go to great lengths to assure each character’s dialogue is artistically treated. Fragments, implied dialogue, and analogies are just a few of the techniques a screenwriter will call upon.
Carmine provides examples of Steve speaking at presentations:
Steve speaks naturally. At times, even in fragments. And he crafts colorful language to bring features to life.
Reveal a Surprise Moment - Jobs loves to reveal surprises. In fact, he scripts moments to elevate the drama. For an example of this scene, consider MacWorld 2007 and the way Steve introduced the iPhone. For tips on reversals, drama, and surprises watch the movie North by Northwest and see how the master directed drama.
Mr. Gallo’s point is this: The way you design your slides, your words, your surprises determines the quality of the presentation.
Act 3: Refine and Rehearse
The author cites research that it takes about ten thousand hours of practice to master any skill or talent. I believe there’s one other quality that separates the mediocre from the masters. Top business professionals often posses the ability to organize information in a way that makes it easy for others to learn. Think of Steve Jobs. He takes complex technical information and transforms it into a performance that’s educational and entertaining.
Consider for a moment the author of this book. Mr. Gallo is a recognized expert in his field. What sets him apart? Is it the information in the book? That may be part of it, however, I think it’s the way he organizes the information, the way he presents the information, the way he shapes the information.
Truth is, I have a feeling that “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” will become one of the most influential books about presentation skills. Why? Because throughout the book Carmine uses a powerful teaching concept.
Write about a presentation principle, then tell a story to demonstrate the principle. There are many good stories in the book... the stories alone will amplify learning. And yet, the author turns it up a notch by using a third teaching concept. He directs people to a video of a Steve Jobs’ presentation where Steve is using the concept as one of his colors on the palette of presentation.
Now students can actually model Steve's presentation dunks, just like school kids across America’s playgrounds imitated an electrifying, gravity defying Michael Jordan dunk.
And the book does something that all great stories do, it shows the transformation of Jobs’ presentation skills. From the 1984 Macintosh presentation (considered one of the best) to present- day presentations where Steve's skills are at their highest art form.
Let’s pretend the picture of Jobs dressed in a white shirt, bow tie, and double-breasted jacket for his 1984 presentation is the opening image of a movie. And the final image of the movie is Jobs dressed in his current performance suite — Black turtleneck, blue jeans, and white sneakers. In between the opening and final images is a story, a transformation engine holding the solution formula for becoming a presentation artist.
Next time you’re watching a movie, compare the first and final images. Then ask yourself, What transformation message is the movie sending to my subconscious?
One Last Thing
Just one last thing... At the start of this review, I promised to reveal a secret about the book. If the only thing this book did was gift wrap the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs that would be enough, wouldn’t it? In addition to making good on its promise, this book holds a second benefit: The book — and Carmine — show you how to live your life as an artist.
Why would we need to live as artists? Isn’t delivering products on time enough? Not anymore. Dan Pink writes convincingly about how we have moved from the information age to the age of the artist. And in this new age, story and design are skills that separate you from the sea of sameness. Jobs thinks of himself as an artist. Instead of products, his teams create works of art.
Products and presentations are table stakes. Today, you have to artistically treat your products and direct your presentations like a classic story. We no longer sell products or services, we sell dreams and experiences. We are creating delivery mechanisms for customer experiences. Using Steve Jobs as our model, let’s design experiences that delight customers.
Suspense. Curiosity. Surprise.
You don’t have to wait for your first keynote speech to practice the techniques in Carmine’s book. You can use his concepts to artistically treat all your work and produce remarkable experiences. Use the rule of three in an email, design software with Zen-like simplicity, orchestrate demos that thrill your customers. Your design and presentation skills will grow stronger, preparing you for that glorious moment in the theater of marketing.
Even though people may forget what you said, and people may forget what you did, it’s how you designed what you said and did that will sear the experience into your customer’s memory.
People will always remember how you make them feel. Make them feel great.