A Truly Great Presenter

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 , 0 comments

Steve JobsIt was just as I was about to commence our Killer Sales Presentations skills course when I was told of the very sad news that Steve Jobs had passed away. And, for a moment, it made me recall some of the wonderful presentations of his that I have watched.

There are rich pickings of his presentations online, and it would be very easy to write a great deal about any of them. But the one that I believe is the most appropriate to pay tribute to the genius of Steve Jobs is ‘How to live before you die.’ He delivered this keynote speech at Stanford University six years ago.

I often ask a question of the delegates attending our courses, “How many truly great presenters can you name?” And always they mention Steve Jobs, and sometimes just one or two others. The reasons why I believe this to be the most appropriate of Steve Jobs great delivery skills are that it showcases his wonderful ability to connect with his audiences; it also is an insight into three key sea-changes during his life and career, and a fabulous example of the art of story-telling.

When coaching presenters, I always encourage them to think of case studies when they and their organization have helped their clients to achieve significant business goals. Delivering a success story is a very powerful way to enable audiences to associate with them, providing it has resonance. A simple delivery technique when presenting a case study is to relate the organization as having faced similar challenges and, or, opportunities to their audience. This creates belief and raises the credibility of their pitch. And when they are about to present a case study, I also ask them to begin with, “Let me tell you a short story about how a company, not dissimilar to yours, and the challenges you are currently facing, achieved…” Although his speech is just over 14 minutes long he expertly delivers three short stories that kept the students spellbound. He, too, started by saying that he was going to tell them three stories. The stories are deeply heartfelt and profound, and Steve was at his prime.

Steve Jobs in front of Apple logo

My recommendation is to take a leaf out of Steve’s book, and turn your case studies into stories that your audience can associate with, and relate to. As he said in his first short story, “You can only connect the dots by looking back.” 

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