During the course of writing ‘Here’s the Pitch‘ , I reminded myself of the magical presentation skills of Steve Jobs. I watched his mesmerising Macworld presentations from start to finish, and read and re-read the text of his insightful and inspirational 2005 Stanford Commencement Address.
Entrepreneurs know that for their startup to succeed, they need to demonstrate differentiation. Most investor and sales pitches, however, are data dumps’ that fail to inspire, engage or excite. Instead, more often than not, they induce ‘death by PowerPoint’. Templates are no substitute for ‘Pitch Innovation’ if you want your audience to take action. A truth Steve Jobs understood and practised.
A Master of Many
Jobs will rightly be remembered by many as a creative and marketing genius, tech visionary, entrepreneur, trail blazer and leader. For me, Jobs stands out in my mind as a ‘pitch innovator’. He was the master of delivering the ultimate pitch, connecting with his audience and taking them on an exciting, unpredictable journey.
Jobs understood that you can only move people to take action, by reaching both their hearts and minds. It was always difficult to watch a Macworld presentation without thinking ‘I must have one’.
My three personal favorites, which show Jobs mastery at its best, are his 2007 Macworld presentation introducing the iPhone, 2005 Stanford Commencement Address and 2008 Macbook Air Keynote . In these, and nearly all of his presentations, Jobs consistently uses a range of highly effective techniques to excite, energise and excite his audience. Here are three:
• Create Drama With Your Demo. Jobs did not simply present a demo. He presented a dramatic moment that drove his audience wild. When he introduced the MacBook Air at Macworld 2008, he started with a photo of an envelope on screen and then told the audience that the MacBook was “so thin it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office.” The audience roared with applause when Jobs then proceeded to open an envelope and pull out a MacBook.
• Use Stories to Inspire. During his Stanford Commencement Address, Jobs told three short stories about connecting the dots, love and loss and death. Each story delivered a powerful message and lesson for life. These messages would have been watered down had they not been so carefully woven into the fabric of his stories.
• Constantly Introduce New Stimuli. Dr. John Medina, molecular biologist and author of ‘Brain Rules, recommends introducing significant changes in a presentation every 10 minutes, in order to keep an audience’s attention. Steve Jobs was a master of this and would typically use demos and video clips and even bring on other speakers to keep a Macworld audience engaged and excited.
An entrepreneur who wants to develop strong pitching skills, would learn much from spending a few hours on You Tube watching Jobs deliver what, for me, are probably some of the best presentations the world has seen. His passing left a void in more ways than one.
Martin is the author of ‘Here’s the Pitch‘ .