Design is how it works, Steve Jobs

The speed at which information travels has rendered most news dated within hours; days if a story really has “legs.”  To last through multiple news cycles is very rare.  The passing of Steve Jobs has done just that, and for good reason.  Over the past decade, very few (if any) executives  have had the impact on the way we communicate the way that Steve Jobs has.

What made Steve Jobs an effective communicator was not innovation or new technology.   His public speaking skills had everything to do with fundamentals – an example being one that is crucial yet often ignored – extensive preparation.  The preparation and practice that went into a product launch or public presentation was evident, and each presentation became an event itself – not very common in the corporate world today (unless it is bad news).

Two of my favorite Steve Jobs presentations:

The launch of the original iPhone

Some Key Takeaways:

1. Very limited use of slides (no “Death by PPT”);

2. Limited content on each slide;

3. Effective use of movement;

4. Use of the “Power Pause”;

5. Effective gesturing;

6.  Simple, conversational language (I am convinced one of the reasons Apple is the market leader is not only the ease of use of the product line, but the ease of explanation as to how the products work.)

Stanford Commencement – 2005

This is one of the most moving speeches I have seen in the past decade, and moves me every time I watch it.  From a delivery standpoint, I can only imagine how powerful this would have been had Jobs given it in 2010, as his evolution as a public speaker over the past six years was evident.  Two key takeaways:

1. The use of story – amazing storytelling;

2. The use of repetition;

3. Use of summation – every story is neatly summarized with a memorable takeaway;

4. Chronological Speech Structure – not the conventional use of structure, and very, very effective.

“Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

– Steve Jobs


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