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Steve Jobs: Presentation Tactics for Ad Agencies

Small to midsize ad agencies, Steve Jobs has something to teach you about pitching for new business. Every new business pitch should do three things: inform, educate and entertain.

BusinessWeek.com columnist Carmine Gallo reveals the techniques that have turned Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, into one of the world’s corporate presenters. Here are his 10 Ways to Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way:

Plan your presentation with pen and paper.

1. Begin by storyboarding your presentation. Steve Jobs will initially spend his preparation time brainstorming, sketching and whiteboarding before he opens every PowerPoint. All of the elements of the story that he wants to tell are thought through, elements are planned and collected before the slides are created.

2. Create a single sentence description for every service/idea. Concise enough to fit in a 140-character Twitter post. An example, for the introduction of the MacBook Air in January, 2008, Jobs said that is it simply, “The world’s thinnest notebook.”

3. Create a villain that allows the audience to rally around the hero—you and your product/service. A ‘villain’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct competitor. It can be a problem in need of a solution.

4. Focus on benefits. Your audience only care about how your service will improve their lives. Make the connection for your prospective clients. Don’t make them make that mental leap leaving them to figure it out for themselves.

5. Stick to the rule of three for presentations. Almost every Jobs presentation is divided into three parts. You might have twenty points to make about your service, but your audience is only capable of retaining three or four points in short term memory. Give them too many points and they’ll forget everything you’ve said.6. Sell dreams, not your services. Steve Jobs doesn’t sell computers. He sells the promise of a better world. When Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he said, “In our own small way we’re going to make the world a better place.” Where most people see the iPod as a music player, Jobs sees it as tool to enrich people’s lives.

7. Create visual slides. There are no bullet points in Steve Jobs presentations. Instead he relies on photographs and images. When Steve Jobs unveiled the Macbook Air, Apple’s ultra-thin notebook computer, he showed a slide of the computer fitting inside a manila inter-office envelope. Keep the presentation that simple.

8. Make numbers meaningful. Jobs always puts large numbers into a context that’s relevant to his audience. The bigger the number, the more important it is to find analogies or comparisons that make the data relevant to your audience.

9. Use plain English. Jobs’ language is remarkably simple. He rarely, if ever, will use the jargon that clouds most presentations—terms like “best of breed” or “synergy.” His language is simple, clear and direct.

10. Practice, practice, practice. Steve Jobs spends hours rehearsing every facet of his presentation. Every slide is written like a piece of poetry, every presentation staged like a theatrical experience. Yes, Steve Jobs makes a presentation look effortless but that polish comes after hours and hours of grueling practice.


Written by Michael Gass


Michael is an agency new business consultant who works with marketing communications firms to create a more clearly defined focus and differentiating business strategy that will give them a competitive advantage for new business, a higher-profile reputation, and an improved ability to attract and win the clients they really want.
 
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