How Steve Jobs Beats Presentation Panic

Trouble can sneak up on the best presenters—just ask Steve Jobs about his Wi-Fi connection at Monday's iPhone 4 announcement. But you can use strategies to mitigate PPT meltdowns and awkward silences, says presentation expert and The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs author Carmine Gallo. Here are his expert tips.

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First things first: Practice, practice, practice, implores Gallo. "Jobs knows every slide on that presentation, every font on that presentation," he says. "I can't tell you how many hours he put into that presentation, but guaranteed, he put in more rehearsal time than 99 percent of people ever will, because most people do not put in this time." (Gallo notes that those apps developer who shared the stage Jobs most likely "put in 100 hours of work for their two minutes.")

[ For more on Jobs's presentation skills, see CIO.com's Q&A: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs ]

That preparedness can equal comfort up on stage when things go awry, because they always do, Gallo says.

"No matter how much time, work, energy and money you put into presentation, guess what: Something will probably not go according to plan," he says. "It's Murphy's Law: When something is supposed to work when you're introducing a new product or system, there's going to be a glitch."

What typically happens to those unprepared is this: The presentation comes to a screeching halt. "The speaker really doesn't know what to do next," Gallo says. "They stop talking. They start fiddling with the product, and you can see the brains and the wheels spinning as to: What am I going to do next?"

Gallo adds: "You need to ask yourself: What's my backup? On that one part of the presentation, when I have to go to something technical or go to a live link or demonstration: What's my backup if it fails?"

You Can Be Imperfect, But Be Entertaining

Sure, he's the CEO of the tech company with the highest market cap on the planet. But Jobs is well aware of the power of a self-deprecating joke or humorous story. Or a plea for help.

"People get a little too consumed into thinking: I'm the presenter. Everything has to be absolutely perfect," Gallo says. "And then when you're up on stage and something goes wrong, you're kind of naked. Then it becomes uncomfortable. But Steve Jobs is always comfortable."

Gallo says any presentation must do three things: 1. Inform. 2. Educate. 3 Entertain. "If you forget the entertainment part, that's when you're going to get caught up in yourself, and small glitches are going to turn into big problems," he says. "It's OK to entertain people and make jokes about what's happening."

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