Communication from the pros

This post outlines key observations on the presentation techniques of two of the best known presenters, Steve Jobs and Bill Clinton. Without further ado...

Steve Jobs' Tips:

BusinessWeek has a great article, How to Wow 'Em Like Steve Jobs (by Carmine Gallo), that talks about Mr. Jobs legendary presentation skills. The key points are:

  • Sell the benefit - Talk about how this will make things better for people by enhancing their lives. What does it mean to them? Don't say things like, "We have redundant server clusters around the globe." Instead try this, "Our 'doors' are always open for business. When a server goes down, our consumers can still interact with us and purchase our products."
  • Practice (a lot) - If you want to come across naturally, you must be intimately familiar with your material. You are rehearsing your presentation. It's got to be an event people want to attend, not a chore they have to do.
  • Keep it visual - Use good, simple pictures and words instead of data driven slides. Eventually all the numbers will blur into something incomprehensible to your audience. Use too much data and you'll soon hear the sound of snoring.
  • Exude passion - If you don't show genuine interest & excitement in your subject why should anyone else?
  • "And one more thing..." - Close strong. Give them something else. This is the marketing WOW factor.

Bill Clinton's Tips:

On Ezine Articles there was a great write-up by Tomas Murrell on Bill Clinton's speechwriting ability. Mr. Clinton is widely regarded as one of the best speakers on the planet. One of the comments about Mr. Clinton's speeches is that he gives everyone something that resonates with them. This is a great article so please read it, Speech Writing Secrets of President Bill Clinton. I'm just going to bullet point the main parts so you'll need to read the article to get the full context.

  • The power of presence - Remember that non-verbal presentation is extremely important. Your expressiveness, gestures and the way you carry yourself make a huge difference. Refer to my post, The soft-side of presentations for more information.
  • Customizing the message - Tailor for your audience. People like the personal touch. Speak to them.
  • Repetition - Think reinforcement. Reinforcement.
  • Using metaphors - Use simple metaphors to help explain more complex topics.
  • Develop empathy with the audience
  • A call to action - Tell them your goal. What do you want them to do?

Other posts on presentations:


By watching some of the better speakers display their mastery of communication you can pick up on things that can help you become better. I notice that as I watch other people give presentations, I can see what works and what doesn't work. These learnings I can incorporate into my own repertoire.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. (George Bernard Shaw)

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