24 January 2010 ~ 0 Comments


On the topic of presentations, meetings, conversations or any other type of interaction that leads to you gaining the result you wanted, all types of ‘rules’ float around on the topic of how much to say and for how long.

Citing the example of the world’s current beau of the stage and product announcement: Steve Jobs… each time he takes the stage he is well rehearsed (obviously), predictably turned out (without being another suit and tie on a platform) and says no more than three things. Occasionally he has a ‘one more thing’, but that final extra point is nothing short of explosive for the world of consumer technology.

What is the key to Steve’s keynote success? Tells a story in the domain of the audience and keeps it simple.

So I’ll keep this simple.

1. Figure out what message (yes, singular) you want to convey or where you want to lead the people you are talking with to be and say the bare minimum that will bring them to where you need them to be. The absolute bare minimum and no more. Fluff adds nothing. Keep what you need to say clean and clear.

2. Whatever you succinctly need to say; frame it in their context and not yours. If you were them, what would you want to hear that would make sense? The iPod nano first generation had an 80MHz ARM 7TDMI ’system on a chip’ processor with 2Gb. Awesome. Means nothing to most, and especially not the audience it was targeted toward.
The iPod nano holds 1000 songs in your pocket. YOUR pocket. Yes, you. That’s what it does for you. Interested? Tell a story that’s not yours but theirs and one that makes a difference in their life.

3. Let your crowd know how many topics you are going to cover with them (maximum three). Deliver those topics. Then tell them what the topics you just covered with them were. It sets expectation, it delivers and confirms. If you can, finish on the biggest and most pertinent/memorable point you have to make.

One more thing… do not be Steve Jobs. Be you. If the audience wanted to see Steve Jobs, U2, the pope or any other superfluous big name, they would absolutely go out of their way to do so (in the same way that if you wanted to watch an episode of Desperate Housewives you would make sure that you did). The audience in front of you has invested the energy to sit their cheeks on seats to listen to you. Yes, you. Give them your show and not someone elses.

Here’s Steve at work back in 2005. He sticks to three things, embodies them in a story that the audience can visualize in their own context and keeps it brief.

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