Q&A with Author of "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs"

What makes Steve Jobs such a special presenter, and what can CIO.com readers borrow from Jobs' vast skills? Communications coach and author Carmine Gallo shares his insights and favorite Jobs YouTube clips.

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CIO.com: PowerPoint software always causes contentious debate about its merits. How does Jobs use it to his advantage?

Gallo: Well, let's be clear. Steve Jobs uses Apple's Keynote presentation software, a very elegant tool.

The vast majority of presentations, however, are created on Microsoft PowerPoint. My book is software-agnostic, which simply means it doesn't matter whether you're a Mac or a PC, whether you use Keynote or PowerPoint. The point is that both of these tools can compliment your story.

PowerPoint is not evil as some have suggested. Guy Kawasaki once told me that PowerPoint is a tool. Those who think it's evil don't know how to use it. Now that we know that information is more effectively delivered with pictures instead of words, PowerPoint becomes a very effective tool for delivering new or abstract information. For example, when Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he said it would allow you to carry 1,000 songs in your pocket—the "headline." And to show you just how small it was, he said "iPod is the size of a deck of cards."

It's been years since I saw that presentation but I remember what he said. Why? Because the slide showed a deck of cards. Pictures trump words.

Apple Music Event 2001 - iPod Introduction

CIO.com: Does Jobs ever mentor coworkers or friends on how to present better? What a class that would be.

Gallo: Jobs expects excellence from himself and others. His presentation style is now part of the culture. Apple's VP of marketing, Phil Schiller, performed admirably at Macworld 2009 when Jobs was absent for health reasons. He did everything that Jobs would have done. The presentation included visually striking slides, demonstrations and a commitment to the rule of three.

CIO.com: What's that?

Gallo: We learn best by absorbing information in chunks, and chunks of three seem to work best. Comedians know that three is funnier than two, playwrights know that three is more dramatic than one, and Jobs knows that three is more persuasive than five.

Jobs divides every presentation into three parts. Schiller did exactly the same thing, saying "I have three new things to tell you about today...." So while I don't think Jobs "teaches" his people how to present better, they have learned by having a seat next to the world's greatest corporate storyteller.

Bill Gates PowerPoint
In the "so bad it's good" category, we honor 8 PowerPoint slides (including Bill's) that will make you say, What were they thinking?" See: 8 PowerPoint Train Wrecks

CIO.com: What is the one thing that readers can steal the Jobsian School of Presentations?

Gallo: A Jobs presentation is intended to inform, educate and entertain. Business professionals tend to forget that last part. People get easily bored. Jobs doesn't give you time to get bored. He builds the drama.

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