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Own the Audience: How to Put some Steve Jobs Into Your Presentation

Written by Amy Chan


Posted on May 05 2014

Public speaking gives many of us chills; the idea of standing in front of a large group of people, all of whom are there exclusively to learn from you and hear what you have to offer can be terrifying.  What if your mind goes blank?  What if your shirt is untucked?  What if…

Calm down.  Public speaking and presentation is just like any other life skill.  Some are naturals, and those that aren’t can practice and become better.  With diligence and care, anyone can become an expert public speaker.  Look at Apple’s former CEO, the late and great Steve Jobs.  His name is synonymous with ease at the podium.  He commanded the room and everyone left a Jobs presentation fully on board with him.  He excited the crowd. 

But how?  Was he some sort of marketing genius born unto the world to provide us fancy new gadgets?  No.  He simply cared about how he came across and how his ideas were conveyed to the masses.  If you want to learn from Steve Jobs about how to present like a champion, learn from these few, relatively simple but effective, tips.

1. Know What You’re Talking About – That may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often someone put in charge of presenting does not know the ins and outs of their product.  You must do the due diligence research and know all the specs and all the details.  Not only will that allow you to answer intentionally difficult questions, but in preparing yourself for this background information, you will gain increased confidence in your presentation simply by having delved into the nitty gritty of the product.

2. Keep It Simple, Silly – The age old K.I.S.S. acronym is never more relevant than when in a public speaking environment.  Some speakers will feel the need to fluff out their story, maybe provide a background in order to engage the listens.  This will do quite the opposite.  Steve Jobs had a way of explaining the more difficult, or innovative, aspects of his products in incredibly clear and concise language.  The audience doesn’t want to feel stupid, so don’t let them.  Be clear, be simple, and be direct.

3. Charisma Will Get You… Everywhere – Remember, you are the focal point of the room.  People are there to learn about what you have to talk about, but they won’t get any of the points and information you are presenting unless they like you, unless they believe you, unless they want to be around you.  Jobs had a great way of being likeable even though he was, for all intents and purposes, a billionaire nerd.  If you can come across as a down to Earth person, warm and friendly, and most of all, sincere, your presentation will go over much better.

4. Know Your Audience – The same information can be presented in countless ways, and some are more effective than others, depending on your audience.  When a politician is giving a speech in front of Congress, the wording and tone will differ from when he’s making the same argument in front of a rural nursing home.  Know your audience and steer your message, your tone, and your pacing to the people you’re speaking to.  Steve Jobs was an expert on knowing his audience, whether it be the general public, high end donors, or folks who could understand the detailed technical specs.

5. It’s All About You – At the end of the day, all of the preparation in the world won’t matter unless you, yourself, are killing it.  The reason the people in the audience are even in the room as opposed to reading about it the next day online is because they want to be in the same room as YOU.  Whether they know it or not, they’re being sold on you.  That may sound scary, but it shouldn’t be.  Embrace being the focal point, look people in the eyes, strut calmly on the stage, and do not act terrified even if you are.