Steve Jobs’ Gift to Sales: the Art of Presentation

October 17, 2011  |  Posted by in Sales Training

Last week, the sales world lost a legend. As iconic as his own designs, Steve Jobs imprinted Apple with a matchless legacy of high-tech cool. The elegance and simplicity pervading every product he created, from the Apple I to the iPad, also shaped Jobs’ meticulously designed product presentations.

Famous for his sensational unveilings, Jobs was perhaps the most successful presenter of all time. What can Jobs teach us about the art of successful presentation?


In a May, 1998 interview for BusinessWeek, Jobs said this:

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Present with a purpose. Have a single focus for your talk. Jobs always described products simply and effectively, following a well-organized outline that made his thinking easy to follow. He used visual aids strategically. For the most impact, a powerpoint slide often contained only a single number or image. Jobs made measurements intuitive and memorable by using comparisons. Just how thin is an iPad? He’d pull one out of an interoffice envelope. His most famous closing line was, “oh, and one more thing…” and the “one more thing” was always the feature or benefit that was going to blow you away.  As the final message of his 2001 iPod unveiling, Jobs said, “This amazing little device holds a thousand songs, and it goes right in my pocket”—and slipped it into his pocket.

Another lesson we can learn from Jobs is, share your excitement:

Jobs always grabbed his audience’s attention by letting them know how passionate he was about his products. For instance, he opened the Apple iPad introduction in January, 2010 by saying, “We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical and revolutionary product today.” MagicalRevolutionary. This kind of positive attitude is infectious; if you believe in your product, so will the audience, and they will keep listening to find out more.

Use your appearance and demeanor to set the tone of your presentation and differentiate yourself from the competition. One thing a lot of people know about Jobs is that he always wore tennis shoes, jeans and a black mock turtleneck. This may not be right for your business, but it worked for him. Why? He seemed relaxed and comfortable, though neat and tidy, and his attire made him look like a bit of a renegade, which supported the positioning of his products as revolutionary. His calm, conversational way of speaking made him easy to relate to. He came across as logical, un-stressed, believable—and different from the uncool competition. Appearance speaks louder than words. Make your appearance work for you.

By cultivating a certain energy, clarity, attitude and appearance, you can position yourself as a unique resource prepared to deliver an exciting, valuable product. Once your customers see how engaged and focused you are on doing your best for them, they will find it hard to say no.


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