Carlos Ghosn: The little things matter
Jazz and the art of connecting

Steve Jobs: "Keepin' it real" in Cupertino

Cupertino_steveEach presentation situation is different, and there are many times, of course, when slideware is not necessary (or desirable). And just in case you think some of the great presenters are only great because of well-designed visuals, take a look at this informal trip to the microphone by Steve Jobs. Complete with black t-shirt and bottled water, Jobs was just as engaging in an empty room in front of the Cupertino City Council as he is under the spotlight at a large media event.

Jobs, who is gracious and yet informal and conversational when he speaks publicly, uses his casual style to paint pictures and connect with listeners, whether on stage with slides and props or not. For example, you can say the number of available and suitable properties in Cupertino is small, or you can underscore the point in a more visceral way by saying something like...

"There ain't a lot of apricot orchards left in Cupertino..."

                                                           -- Steve Jobs

If you want to see a different clip of Jobs speaking (all the way back to 2001) with the accompaniment of simple slides, checkout his presentation announcing the introduction of the iPod. I remember watching this live on monitors set up in Caffé Macs next door to where Steve was presenting. Business instructors may find the contents of this clip worthy of showing to their students, discussing market conditions then and now, etc.

Here's a short clip of Jobs announcing a bit of controversial news in 1997, the killing of the clones. Sharp and to the point...and in a language that is frank (including a couple of "S-bombs").

Thanks to Les in Australia for the great link to the Cupertino video.



In terms of presentation and public speaking basics, I don't think that this is a particularly spectacular solo presentation by Mr. Jobs. Sure, the environment is a lot more intimate than we typically see him in action, but consider the number of "Uhms" and backtracks... his core presentation seemed quite disjointed to me. Clearly, not as much preparation went into this small meeting as would a MacWorld Expo or product release. But, of course, why would there be? I'm just saying it shows in even the best presenters.
That being said, about 3/4 of the way into the clip, the conversation starts... a dialogue between the council members and Mr. Jobs, and that's when his conversational skills really show and his universal appeal shines. Of course the topic of his presentation helps. If he were telling the council members that Apple did not want to pay Cupertino taxes anymore, the dialogue would have been different.
I think the key to his public presentations at larger events is that in his time to prepare, he is able to construct a dialogue... because if you watch his presentations, he phrases statements as if he is allowing time for a response. That is what is missing in the presentation, until the end when actual diaologue occurs.


This was a brilliant PR move, and the whole down-home-ah-geez presentation style is what makes it work. Note how many times he reinforces his messages: a) we could have gone elsewhere, b) we paid a lot more than we wanted to, and c) we've been committed to Cupertino for 30 years and worked hard to stay.

The surprised Council then starts asking how they can help!?!?!

Watch for tax breaks and variance concessions to begin raining down upon Apple.


Is that some Comic font in the iPod presentation? /me rubs his eyes.

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