Plan in Analog
Marketing is really theater. It's like staging a performance.
Steve Jobs has built a reputation in the digital world of bits and
bytes, but he creates stories in the very old-world tradition of pen and
paper. His presentations are theatrical events intended to generate
maximum publicity, buzz, and awe. They contain all of the elements of
great plays or movies: conflict, resolution, villains, and heroes. And,
in line with all great movie directors, Jobs storyboards the plot before
picking up a "camera (i.e., opening the presentation software). It's
marketing theater unlike any other.
Jobs is closely involved in every detail of a presentation: writing
descriptive taglines, creating slides, practicing demos, and making sure
the lighting is just right. Jobs takes nothing for granted. He does what
most top presentation designers recommend: he starts on paper. "There's
just something about paper and pen and sketching out rough ideas in the
'analog world' in the early stages that seems to lead to more clarity
and better, more creative results when we finally get down to
representing our ideas digitally," writes Garr Reynolds in Presentation
Design experts, including those who create presentations for Apple,
recommend that presenters spend the majority of their time thinking,
sketching, and scripting. Nancy Duarte is the genius behind Al Gore's An
Inconvenient Truth. Duarte suggests that a presenter spend up to ninety
hours to create an hour-long presentation that contains thirty slides.
However, only one-third of that time should be dedicated to building the
slides, says Duarte. The first twenty-seven hours are dedicated to
researching the topic, collecting input from experts, organizing ideas,
collaborating with colleagues, and sketching the structure of the story.
Think about what happens when you open PowerPoint. A blank-format slide
appears that contains space for words—a title and subtitle. This
presents a problem. There are very few words in a Steve Jobs
presentation. Now think about the first thing you see in the drop-down
menu under Format: Bullets & Numbering. This leads to the second
problem. There are no bullet points in a Steve Jobs presentation. The
software itself forces you to create a template that represents the
exact opposite of what you need to speak like Steve! In fact, as you
will learn in later scenes, texts and bullets are the least effective
way to deliver information intended to be recalled and acted upon. Save
your bullet points for grocery lists.
Visually engaging presentations will inspire your audience. And yes,
they require a bit of work, especially in the planning phase. As a
communications coach, I work with CEOs and other top executives on their
media, presentation, and public speaking skills. One of my clients, a
start-up entrepreneur, had spent sixty straight days in Bentonville,
Arkansas, to score an appointment with Wal-Mart. His technology
intrigued company executives, who agreed to a beta test, a trial run.
Wal-Mart asked him to present the information to a group of advertisers
and top executives. I met with my client over a period of days at the
offices of the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that invested in his
company. For the first day, we did nothing but sketch the story. No
computer and no PowerPoint—just pen and paper (whiteboard, in this
case). Eventually we turned the sketches into slide ideas. We needed
only five slides for a fifteen-minute presentation. Creating the slides
did not take as much time as developing the story. Once we wrote the
narrative, designing the slides was easy. Remember, it's the story, not
the slides, that will capture the imagination of your audience.
The Napkin Test
A picture is the most powerful method for conveying an idea. Instead of
booting up your computer, take out a napkin. Some of the most successful
business ideas have been sketched on the back of a napkin. One could
argue that the napkin has been more important to the world of business
ideas than PowerPoint. I used to think that "napkin stories" were just
that—stories, from the imagination of journalists. That is until I met
Richard Tait, the founder of Cranium. I prepared him for an interview on
CNBC. He told me that during a cross-country flight from New York to
Seattle, he took out a small cocktail napkin and sketched the idea of a
board game in which everyone had a chance to excel in at least one
category, a game that would give everyone a chance to shine. Cranium
became a worldwide sensation and was later purchased by Hasbro. The
original concept was simple enough to write on a tiny airline napkin.
One of the most famous corporate napkin stories involves Southwest
Airlines. A lawyer at the time, Herb Kelleher met with one of his
clients, Rollin King, at the St. Anthony's Club, in San Antonio. King
owned a small charter airline. He wanted to start a low-cost commuter
airline that avoided the major hubs and instead served Dallas, Houston,
and San Antonio. King sketched three circles, wrote the names of the
cities inside, and connected the three—a strikingly simple vision.
Kelleher understood immediately. Kelleher signed on as legal counsel (he
later became CEO), and the two men founded Southwest Airlines in 1967.
King and Kelleher would go on to reinvent airline travel in the United
States and build a corporate culture that would earn Southwest's place
among the most admired companies in the world. Never underestimate the
power of a vision so simple that it can fit on a napkin!
The Story Takes Center Stage
In Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson stresses, "The single most
important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is
to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file."
Atkinson advocates a three-step storyboard approach to creating
Writing -> Sketching -> Producing
Only after writing—scripting—the scenes does he advocate thinking
visually about how the slides will look. "To write a script, you need to
momentarily set aside PowerPoint design issues like fonts, colors,
backgrounds, and slide transitions. Although it might sound
counterintuitive, when you write a script first, you actually expand
your visual possibilities, because writing defines your purpose before
you start designing. A script unlocks the undiscovered power of
PowerPoint as a visual storytelling tool in ways that might surprise and
delight you and your audiences." With a completed script in hand, you'll
be ready to sketch and "produce" the experience. The script, however,
must come first.
Nine Elements of Great Presentations
Persuasive presentation scripts contain nine common elements. Think
about incorporating each of these components before you open the
presentation program, whether you work in PowerPoint, Keynote, or any
other design software. Some of these concepts will be explored in more
detail later, but for now keep them in mind as you develop your ideas.
What is the one big idea you want to leave with your audience? It should
be short (140 characters or less), memorable, and written in the
subject-verb-object sequence. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he
exclaimed, "Today Apple reinvents the phone!" That's a headline.
Headlines grab the attention of your audience and give people a reason
to listen. Read USA Today for ideas. Here are some examples from
America's most popular daily newspaper:
>> "Apple's Skinny MacBook Is Fat with Features"
>> "Apple Unleashes Leopard Operating System"
>> "Apple Shrinks iPod"
Aristotle, the father of public speaking, believed that successful
speakers must have "pathos," or passion for their subject. Very few
communicators express a sense of excitement about their topic. Steve
Jobs exudes an almost giddy enthusiasm every time he presents. Former
employees and even some journalists have claimed that they found his
energy and enthusiasm completely mesmerizing. Spend a few minutes
developing a passion statement by filling in the following sentence:
"I'm excited about this product [company, initiative, feature, etc.]
because it ______________________." Once you have identified the passion
statement, don't be bashful—share it.
THREE KEY MESSAGES
Now that you have decided on your headline and passion statement, write
out the three messages you want your audience to receive. They should be
easily recalled without the necessity of looking at notes. Although
Scene 5 is dedicated to this subject, for now keep in mind that your
listeners can recall only three or four points in short-term memory.
Each of the key messages will be followed by supporting points.
METAPHORS AND ANALOGIES
As you develop key messages and supporting points, decide on which
rhetorical devices will make your narrative more engaging. According to
Aristotle, metaphor is "the most important thing by far." A metaphor—a
word or phrase that denotes one thing and is used to designate another
for purposes of comparison—is a persuasive tool in the best marketing,
advertising, and public relations campaigns. Jobs uses metaphors in
conversations and presentations. In one famous interview, Jobs said,
"What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever
come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."
Sales professionals are fond of sports metaphors: "We're all playing for
the same team"; "This isn't a scrimmage; it's for real"; or "We're
batting a thousand; let's keep it up." While sports metaphors work fine,
challenge yourself to break away from what your audience expects. I came
across an interesting metaphor for a new antivirus suite of applications
from Kaspersky. The company ran full-page ads (the one I saw was in USA
Today) that showed a dejected medieval soldier in a full suit of armor
walking away, with his back toward the reader. The headline read, "Don't
be so sad. You were very good once upon a time." The metaphor compared
today's Internet security technologies (Kaspersky's competitors) to
slow, cumbersome medieval armor, which of course is no match for today's
military technology. The company extended the metaphor to the website
with an image of a suit of armor and the same tagline. The metaphor was
consistent throughout the company's marketing material.
Analogies are close cousins of metaphors and also are very effective. An
analogy is a comparison between two different things in order to
highlight some area of similarity. Analogies help us understand concepts
that might be foreign to us. "The microprocessor is the brain of your
computer" is an analogy that works well for companies such as Intel. In
many ways, the chip serves the same function in the computer as a brain
serves in a human. The chip and the brain are two different things with
like features. This particular analogy is so useful that it is widely
picked up by the media. When you find a strong analogy that works, stick
with it and make it consistent across your presentations, website, and
marketing material. Jobs likes to have fun with analogies, especially if
they can be applied to Microsoft. During an interview with the Wall
Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, Jobs pointed out that many people say
iTunes is their favorite application for Windows. "It's like giving a
glass of ice water to someone in hell!"
Jobs shares the spotlight with employees, partners, and products. Demos
make up a large part of his presentations. When Jobs unveiled a new
version of the OS X operating system, code-named Leopard, at Apple's
Worldwide Developers Conference (commonly abbreviated WWDC, the annual
conference is an Apple event to showcase new software and technologies)
in June 2007, he said Leopard had three hundred new features. He chose
ten to discuss and demonstrate, including Time Machine (automated
backup), Boot Camp (runs Windows XP and Vista on Mac), and Stacks (file
organization). Instead of simply listing the features on a slide and
explaining them, he sat down and showed the audience how they worked. He
also chose the features he wanted the press to highlight. Why leave it
to the media to decide which of three hundred new features were the most
compelling? He would tell them.
Does your product lend itself to a demonstration? If so, script it into
the presentation. Your audience wants to see, touch, and experience your
product or service. Bring it to life.
I worked with Goldman Sachs investors to prepare the CEO of a Silicon
Valley semiconductor start-up that was about to go public. The company
shrinks chips that create audio sound for mobile computers. As we were
planning the investor presentation, the CEO pulled out a chip the size
of a fingernail and said, "You wouldn't believe the sound that this
generates. Listen to this." He turned up the volume on his laptop and
played music that impressed those of us who were in the room. It was a
no-brainer to use the same demonstration (with a more dramatic buildup)
when the executive pitched the company to investors. The IPO went on to
become a huge success. An investor who had underwritten the company
later called me and said, "I don't know what you did, but the CEO was a
hit." I didn't have the heart to say that I stole the idea from the
Steve Jobs playbook.
Jobs shares the stage with key partners as well as his products. In
September 2005, Jobs announced that all of Madonna's albums would be
available on iTunes. The pop star herself suddenly appeared via webcam
and joked with Jobs that she had tried to hold out as long as possible
but got tired of not being able to download her own songs. Whether it's
an artist or an industry partner like the CEOs of Intel, Fox, or Sony,
Jobs often shares the stage with people who contribute to Apple's
CUSTOMER EVIDENCE AND THIRD-PARTY ENDORSEMENTS
Offering "customer evidence" or testimonials is an important part of the
selling cycle. Few customers want to be pioneers, especially when
budgets are tight. Just as recruiters ask for references, your customers
want to hear success stories. This is especially critical for small
companies. Your sales and marketing collateral might look great in that
glossy four-color brochure, but it will be met with a healthy degree of
skepticism. The number one influencer is word of mouth. Successful
product launches usually have several customers who were involved in the
beta and who can vouch for the product. Incorporate customer evidence
into your pitch. Including a quote is simple enough, but try going one
step further by recording a short testimonial and embedding the video on
your site and in your presentation. Even better, invite a customer to
join you in person (or via webcam) at a presentation or an important
Do you have third-party reviews of your product? Always use third-party
endorsements when available. Word of mouth is one of the most effective
marketing tools available, and when your customers see an endorsement
from a publication or an individual they respect, it will make them feel
more comfortable about their purchasing decisions.
Very few presenters incorporate video into their presentations. Jobs
plays video clips very often. Sometimes he shows video of employees
talking about how much they enjoyed working on a product. Jobs is also
fond of showing Apple's most recent television ads. He does so in nearly
every major new product announcement and has been doing so since the
launch of the famous Macintosh 1984 Super Bowl ad. He's been known to
enjoy some ads so much that he showed them twice. Near the end of his
presentation at Apple's WWDC in June 2008, Jobs announced the new iPhone
3G, which connects to higher-speed data networks and costs less than the
iPhone that was currently on the market. He showed a television ad with
the tagline "It's finally here. The first phone to beat the iPhone."
When the thirty-second spot ended, a beaming Jobs said, "Isn't that
nice? Want to see it again? Let's roll that again. I love this ad."
Including video clips in your presentation will help you stand out. You
can show ads, employee testimonials, scenes of the product or of people
using the product, and even customer endorsements. What could be more
persuasive than hearing directly from a satisfied customer—if not in
person, then through a short video clip embedded in your presentation?
You can easily encode video into digital formats such as MPEG 1, Windows
Media, or Quicktime files, all of which will work for most
presentations. Keep in mind that the average viewed clip on YouTube is
2.5 minutes. Our attention spans are shrinking, and video, while
providing a great way to keep the audience engaged, can be overused if
left to run too long. Use video clips in your presentations, but avoid
clips that run much longer than two to three minutes.
Excerpted from "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience" by Carmine Gallo. Copyright © 0 by Carmine Gallo. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.