Leadership

3 tricks Steve Jobs used that will help you give better presentations

Apple CEO Steve Jobs gestures during his keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco January 9, 2001.
Lou Dematteis | Reuters
Apple CEO Steve Jobs gestures during his keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco January 9, 2001.

Face it, you probably give boring presentations.

Most of us do.

While 70 percent of American workers say presentations are critical to their success, 40 percent admit to doing something else — texting, checking email, surfing the internet — during other people's talks, a recent survey shows.

So how did the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs manage to get people to treat his keynote speeches like rock concerts? Jeff Black, the founder of leadership development company Black Sheep, tells CNBC the secret to Jobs' presentation success lied in three key factors: powerful storytelling, an emotional connection and obsessive preparation.

To deliver compelling presentations like Jobs did, Black recommends using these tricks.

Ditch the PowerPoint, and tell a story

Leaders today need to get back to being messengers instead of just reading off presentation slides, Black says. Using the "power of a good story" is the best way to influence others.

"The late Steve Jobs was a masterful storyteller," Black says. "He was the messenger, he was the star of the show — not the PowerPoint slide."

Although using presentation slides is still critical, Black says you should not treat them like teleprompters that you read directly from.

"What Steve Jobs did brilliantly is he just put pictures [or] a word, and it was just enough to ignite what he wanted to say," he says.

Black also emphasizes not overloading presentations with more information than an audience can take in at once.

"At the end of the week they will never remember all that data on a PowerPoint slide," he says. "But they will never forget a compelling story they heard from one of their leaders. So get back to good old-fashioned storytelling."

Connect with your audience emotionally

The key to any good story is making emotional connections to the issue. In other words, you should frame your message to reach each person, not just try to drive your point or agenda.

"One of the ways a good leader comes across to his or her employees is through being a good storyteller and being able to communicate the vision of that company in very simple ways without a lot of company jargon," Black says.

When Jobs returned to the stage for his first Apple keynote in a year due to health issues, he made sure to express his thankfulness to the Apple community and his executives — all before getting to the product launch announcements.

"I'm vertical, back at Apple, loving every day of it. And I'm getting to work with our incredibly talented teams to come up with some great new products for you all in the future, so it's wonderful. Thank you," Jobs said.

"His energy on the stage, his ability to explain simply a complex technological advancement, his love for Apple always came through," Black says.

Rehearse twice as much as you think you need to

Remember, it's not only what you say but how you say it. To make sure you nail the delivery of your presentation, practice makes perfect, says Black.

Brent Schlender, the co-author of "Becoming Steve Jobs," told Fast Company that Jobs would spend months preparing and rehearsing "exhaustively" for public appearances.

"I once spent an entire day watching him run through multiple rehearsals of a single presentation, tweaking everything from the color and angle of certain spotlights, to editing and rearranging the order of the keynote presentation slides to improve his pacing," Schlender said.

Once you get to the point where you think you're ready, go over it again.

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