Steve Jobs and Dynamic Presentations

It’s my 58th birthday today.  To celebrate I’m giving away the eBook version of 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations. If you want a copy, please send me an e mail at with the words “4 Secrets Birthday Giveaway” in the subject line.

On to today’s post…

Dynamic communication is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success. If you want to become a dynamic communicator, you need to do three things: 1) develop your conversation skills; 2) learn how to write clearly and succinctly; and 3) develop your presentation skills.

The August 2008 issue of Laptop Magazine has a great article about Steve Jobs’ presentation style.  There is some great common sense advice here.  I especially like the idea of avoiding bullet points in your talks.   

“We’re in a mindset of typing in our notes and showing them to the audience in bullet point format.  With this conventional approach, you’re disconnecting yourself from your audience, having them focus on the screen and not you.  It’s an unhealthy dynamic when there is confusion about where to look.”

The article goes on to say that Jobs keeps his slides simple and highly visual: one idea, one concept and one image.  Words are kept to a minimum: one or two words or a very short sentence.

In other words, when Steve Jobs speaks, people focus on and listen to him; they don’t read his slides.  His slides act as a visual reinforcement of what he’s saying.

Are your slides mostly bullet points?  Do you find that you have to reduce your font size to get all of your words on your slides?  If so, you need to take a lesson from Steve Jobs.

Bullet points make it easier for you to present; they also can make you lazy.  Many people think that they don’t have to rehearse.  Their bullet points will remind them of what they want to say.  This may be true, but it can make for a very boring presentation.

If you go the Steve Jobs route on slides, you have to rehearse.  Images that enhance your points don’t act as notes – unless you rehearse.  People at Apple say that Jobs spend hours rehearsing his talks out loud.  All good presenters do this.

I rehearse my talks in front of a mirror.  When I rehearse, I focus on the words I want to say, as well as the gestures I’ll use as I’m saying them and how I will vary my tone of voice.  When I am in front of an audience, I feel comfortable because I’ve done my talk before – several times, at home and in my hotel room.

There are two common sense points here.  Act like Steve Jobs when you are presenting.  Make sure that your slides enhance what you are saying, not compete with you.  You can do this by using more images and fewer words on your slides.  Second — rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  It’s only common sense.  The more you rehearse, the better you will do when you are in front of an audience.

That’s my take on Steve Jobs’ presentation style.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your best presentation secrets with us.  Thanks for reading – and writing.


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  1. Deanna McNeil says:

    Bullet points have their place: in the speaker’s outline! I imagine that is where some folks thinking goes astray in putting them in the slides as well.
    I really appreciate your suggestions about modulation as well: it goes a long way to keeping the listener engaged.

  2. Deanna:
    Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it. And I agree. Bullet points are best left for your outline — not on the screen.
    All the best,

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