Sell the Benefit
Steve Jobs does not sell
bits of metal; he sells an experience. Instead of focusing on
mind-numbing statistics, as most technologists tend to do, Jobs sells
the benefit. For example, when introducing a 30 GB iPod, he clearly
explains what it means to the consumer — users can carry 7,500 songs,
25,000 photos, or up to 75 hours of video. In January when Jobs
introduced the first Intel (INTC)-based Mac notebook he began by saying, “What does this mean?”
went on to explain the notebook had two processors, making the new
product four to five times faster than the Powerbook G4, a “screamer”
as he called it. He said it was Apple’s thinnest notebook and comes
packed with “amazing” new features like a brighter wide-screen display
and a built-in camera for video conferencing. It’s not about the
technology, but what the technology can do for you.
Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
Jobs takes nothing for granted during product launches. He reviews and rehearses his material. According to a Business Week
article on February 6, 2006, “Jobs unveils Apple’s latest products as
if he were a particularly hip and plugged-in friend showing off
inventions in your living room. Truth is, the sense of informality
comes only after grueling hours of practice.” The article goes on to
say that it’s not unusual for Jobs to prepare for four hours as he
reviews every slide and demonstration (see BW, 2/6/06, “Steve Jobs’ Magic Kingdom”).
Keep It Visual
of slides, there are very few bullet points in a Jobs presentation.
Each slide is highly visual. If he’s discussing the new chip inside a
computer, a slide in the background will show a colorful image of the
chip itself alongside the product. That’s it. Simple and visual.
presentations are not created on PowerPoint, as the vast majority of
presentations are. But PowerPoint slides can be made visual as well.
It’s a matter of thinking about the content visually instead of falling
into the habit of creating slide after slide with headlines and bullet
points. I once worked with the vice-president of a public company who
planned to show more than 80 data-heavy slides in a 40-minute
presentation. Imagine how quickly his audience would have tuned out.
I showed him just how visual his message could be, he went back to the
drawing board, dismantled his existing presentation, and reduced it to
about 10 image-rich slides. The next day a newspaper reporter wrote
that my client had “wowed” analysts and investors. The stock rose 17%
in the days that followed. Take a cue from Jobs and help your listeners
visualize the message.
Exude Passion, Energy, and Enthusiasm
has an infectious enthusiasm. When launching the video iPod, Jobs said,
“It’s the best music player we’ve made,” “It has a gorgeous screen,”
“The color is fantastic,” and “The video quality is amazing.”
first time I watch my clients present, I often have to stop them to ask
if they are sincerely passionate about their message. They usually
assure me they are, but they tend to lose energy and enthusiasm when
they fall into “presentation mode.” Jobs carries his enthusiasm into
There is no better example of Jobs’ passion
than the famous story of how he convinced John Sculley to lead Apple in
the mid ’80s by asking him, “Do you want to sell sugared water all your
life or do you want to change the world?” The former Pepsi executive
chose the latter and, although the pairing ultimately failed to work
out, it reflects Jobs’ sense of mission — a mission that he conveyed
consistently in the early years of Apple and continues to today.
“And One More Thing…”
the end of each presentation Jobs adds to the drama by saying, “and one
more thing.” He then adds a new product, new feature, or sometimes
introduces a band. He approaches each presentation as an event, a
production with a strong opening, product demonstrations in the middle,
a strong conclusion, and an encore — that “one more thing!”