Steve Jobs was widely recognized as one of the most dynamic and powerful speakers of his time. His presentation slides were simple yet bold, and were absent of extemporaneous data, text or images. His messages were clear and to the point, and he always had “one more thing” for the audience, keeping them on the edge of their seats until the very end. There are many reasons why he was so good, but this quote from the recent biography by Walter Isaacson provides a key insight, “People who know what they are talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”
So, wait, he was a great presenter but didn’t like PowerPoint?! How can this be? The truth is, most presenters create slide shows with the idea that their slides are the most important part of the presentation. This could not be further from the truth.
The presenter is the presentation. More specifically, YOU are the presentation. Your knowledge, your experience, and your passion for the subject are what brings the audience in and keeps their attention. Your presentation slides are there to provide visual reinforcement for your message.
Steve Jobs understood this, and when he was on stage, he was a performer. He practiced his presentations tirelessly, and created slides that drove-home his most important points with visual impact. Remember this important idea, and you will be well on your way to creating better slides that support your presentation!
What do you think? What other lessons can be learned from Steve Jobs’ presentation style? Leave your comment below!
Full context of the Steve Jobs quote (pg 337): “Steve would summon the teams into the boardroom, which seats twenty, and they would come with thirty people and try to show PowerPoints, which Steve didn’t want to see,” Shiller recalled. One of the first things Jobs did during the product review process was ban PowerPoints. “I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs later recalled. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.” (Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. Simon and Schuster, 2011.)