A Steve Jobs presentation hack to mesmerize your audience

On my first day in journalism school, the instructors taught me to find the “wow” in a story: the surprise that catches people’s attention and makes them pay attention.

I remembered this advice years later when I wrote Steve Jobs’ presentation secrets. The Apple co-founder intentionally designed a wow moment in every major product launch, many of which were products he used as props in a magic show.

In 2001, Jobs could have simply presented the first iPod by showing pictures of the gadget. Instead, Jobs reached into his little jeans pocket, pulled out an iPod, and said, “It’s like having 1,000 songs in your pocket.”

Steve Jobs intuitively understood something that you can use to mesmerize your audience. The key is to give them something to remember. Whether you are giving a presentation virtually or in person, your listeners won’t remember every word you say. They will remember moments.

Great communicators intentionally design memorable moments using some of the following tactics.

1. Tell stories.

Humans are programmed to pay attention to stories, so tell more. Personal stories are among the most compelling. There’s a reason Steve Jobs’ 2005 opening speech at Stanford University is considered so iconic that CNN asked me to analyze it.

Jobs told three personal stories from his life. Many people remember Jobs’ story of taking a calligraphy class in college, even though they didn’t know what it would be used for. Years later, Jobs applied what he had learned to build the Macintosh, the computer that revolutionized desktop publishing with sophisticated fonts.

Share personal stories relevant to the theme of your presentation.

2. Offer surprising statistics.

Many science journalists who cover complex topics like climate change are trained to put data into context to grab the attention of readers.

For example, scientists announced in August that greenhouse gas emissions had reached their highest level on record. But writers know a reader’s eyes will be glassy without a startling statistic that puts the event in context. The authors therefore retained a figure: the concentration of gas in the atmosphere that causes climate change is the highest for 800,000 years.

Find an issue that catches the attention of your audience.

3. Create analogies.

Our brains are wired for the story and for the metaphor. We compare unfamiliar things with things we know.

Billionaire Warren Buffett is an expert at using analogies to make complex financial topics easy to understand. One of Buffett’s most famous quotes concerns the way he selects winning companies: “I’m looking for economic castles protected by impassable moats.”

A well-chosen analogy speaks volumes.

4. Plan surprise revelations.

Sometimes a sensational moment is as easy as creatively wrapping the content to reveal a surprise.

In 2007, Steve Jobs announced that Apple was introducing “three new products”: a new iPod, a telephone and an Internet communicator. He repeated the list several times. Finally he said, “You don’t understand? It’s not three devices. It’s a device and we call it, the iPhone. “

Your message does not have to change; just change the way you express it.

5. View photos, images and videos.

We remember pictures and pictures better than words. In the neuroscience of persuasion, this phenomenon is called the “image superiority effect”. Use it to your advantage.

For example, in my presentations I incorporate a lot of videos as short clips from an interview I conducted with a famous entrepreneur or CEO. When I play the video I can tell everyone’s eyes are on the screen. You will lose your audience’s attention if the slides in your presentation look too similar. Break it up with photos or videos.

Mostly, people don’t pay attention to boring things. Give your audience something to remember like a story or a surprise they weren’t expecting.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.

Clifton L. Boyd