How To: A Lesson From Steve Jobs

On Saturday morning I sat and drank my coffee and was scrolling through my twitter timeline when I came across a tweet that celebrated the five-year anniversary of when Apple launched their iPhone.

Five years ago, if I recall correctly, my phone of choice was the Palm Treo, and I couldn’t care less about what Apple was doing and “damn them” for trying to take away my QWERTY keyboard! So as I sat there watching Steve Jobs in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans address an anxiously awaiting crowd, I was fixated on what I saw. (Also of note: I was watching the video stream beautifully on my iPhone, while my once beloved Treo was sold years ago for $50). Don’t worry, I won’t leave you to scour the internet for the video and will include the link later, but I want to make my point first: NO CHEATING AND SCROLLING DOWN!

Nothing in Steve Jobs’ keynote was news to me; after all it was five years ago this all took place. I am, and for nearly two years have been, an iPhone user, so I am pretty well versed in the capabilities and awesomeness that is this industry-changing product. But none-the-less I sat there watching Steve (we’re were on a first name basis by the way) hold my and the audience’s attention as he walked us through Apple’s accomplishments past, present and now future. In his address he incorporated humour, facts, statistics and a beautifully crafted Keynote (Apple’s PowerPoint) presentation.

I will be honest, I watched about 18 minutes of the 41:13 part 1 which was posted, but I’ve got a 17 month old and she can only keep herself entertained for so long before she realized that Daddy is on his phone and “I want it!” But believe me when I say that the 18-ish minutes felt like 5. “Why is that?”, I asked myself. I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, expecting Steve Jobs to blow my mind with something incomprehensible. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t the ‘what’ of the presentation that captivated my attention, but the ‘how’. It’s no secret to anyone who has watched a Steve Jobs keynote address that he was an excellent speaker, was comfortable on the stage and had a talent for engaging his audience. But what I began to realize was that his Keynote presentation was superb; a HUGE reason he was so good on stage.

It is likely that most of us, if not all of us have sat through, heard or perhaps presented a PowerPoint (or Keynote. Let’s also pretend that anytime I write PowerPoint I also mean Keynote, okay?) presentation. And I’m also willing to bet that we have also been exposed to a painful PowerPoint that has made us what to: leave, sleep, count ceiling tiles, practice winking, insert pencil in eye (you get the picture). My experience dictates that the PowerPoint has become the crutch of a presentation and we use it as the presentation itself, instead of the tool it was designed to be.

I have read tons of articles and posts suggesting how PowerPoint needs to be used as a visual aide, with max 5 bullet points, pictures, diagrams and anything else to enhance the speaker’s point. But what do we do? We turn our backs to the audience and READ THE DAMN THING LINE BY LINE!! *takes deep breath*

I could go on and on about how to properly use PowerPoint, but instead watch the master: Steve Jobs as he inadvertently gives the world a course on ‘How To Properly Use Keynote During A Presentation’ (note: I used Keynote here instead of PowerPoint, because I cannot in good conscience mention the visionary Jobs conducting a ‘how to’ without one of his products).

Do me (and yourself) a favour and watch at least the first 10 minutes of Steve Jobs’ keynote address and feel free to share your thoughts below.

Thanks for reading!

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2 thoughts on “How To: A Lesson From Steve Jobs

  1. I have a presentation tomorrow morning to a group of new employees at our company. I have given it once before, about 3-4 months ago. It worked for a while on it them, and it went well. So I was going to wing it this time. But after reading this, I spent a few minutes reviewing it to ensure I bring the enthusiasm to it that our new employees deserve. Thanks, Chris.

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