For some reason known only to the deities of publishing, Apple’s late former CEO Steve Jobs was considered a great business presenter, and a best-selling book even says so: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs.
A book by presentation coach Carmine Gallo.
But was Steve Jobs really a great presenter? Did he really have secrets that you can use? And can you learn how to be “an insanely great” presenter from this book?
No . . . no . . . and . . .
Well . . . on that last point, you can learn to become a pretty good presenter from this book.
But not from Steve Jobs.
The Extraordinary Jobs
Steve was a visionary and an extraordinary entrepreneur many times over. He grew tremendously since the early days when he thought that his self-absorbed bombast gave him license to insult Microsoft and Bill Gates mercilessly.
He emerged as a celebrity CEO, a man who loved the limelight and whose strong and quirky personality guaranteed him a following among a certain segment of the American populace.
On an absolute scale, Steve was a slightly above-average presenter.
Remove Steve’s high-tech prop that the entire wonk-world was waiting to see, and remove the employee/early adopter audiences that cheered his every eye-twitch, and we are left with a shabbily dressed average sort of fellow given to aimless pacing and whose high-pitched voice grates a bit on the senses with its “ummms” and “ahhhhs.”
Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? Just one . . .
You and I know that there is only one reason that Steve Jobs was on that stage and one reason that he has a book purporting to reveal the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs.
It’s not for his presenting skills.
While Jobs himself was not someone whose presenting skills deserve emulation, he is obviously the subject of the book because of his built-in audience, and so we must deal with that.
Dismiss it, in fact. But the book does have a gem.
The gem of the book is the author.
The author of the Jobs book is Carmine Gallo, who is an extremely polished and superb presenter and presentation coach, and he embeds solid presenting nuggets throughout the book. Carmine is, in fact, a much better presenter than Jobs was on his best day. Have a look . . .
But even Carmine is not perfect. He begins by gushing at Jobs’s stature as a presenter that is almost embarrassing in its lavish excess: “Steve Jobs is the most captivating communicator on the world stage . . . He is the world’s greatest corporate storyteller!”
But . . . well, we’re selling books here, and hype is understandable. I’d probably gush, too, if given a similar opportunity, so let’s give Carmine a pass on this one.
But one great danger that I see from this type of gushing is that we can begin to think of the presenter as hero. And what better hero than the great Steve Jobs?
All of us would like to be the hero of our presentation, wouldn’t we? And we are sorely tempted to put the focus on our product and ourselves.
No. Don’t do it.
Your Audience is the Hero
There is room for only one hero in the presentation, and that hero is not you.
The hero is in the audience, and you are there to help your audience become heroic. As with all presentation instruction, you can ignore or accept what you choose, and this point is no different.
You can try to be the hero. Or, you can focus on your audience and its needs and its desires.
And make your audience members heroes of a sort.
In sum, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs offers a reasonable exposition of presentation methods that can benefit us all, but recognize that these methods have nothing to do with Steve Jobs and they do not help us become “insanely great” presenters.
But there is good news for you on the presentation front. The best news in all of this is, in fact, great news.
With dedication, coachability, and the right method, virtually anyone – and I mean anyone – can become a better business presenter than Steve Jobs.
For more on the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs that are really no presentation secrets at all, consult the Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.