Talking tech since 2003

WWDC was just last week, so I thought it would good time to put together this post on Steve Jobs and his reality distortion field.  Steve Jobs was a master at presenting, his keynotes (also known as Stevenotes) were incredible to watch, you couldn’t not leave a Steve Jobs keynote without wanting to buy an Apple product. This phenomena became known as Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field, in which people joked he could literally get on stage to show off almost anything and people would want it. Steve’s reality distortion field is something I’m sure many companies would kill to have had access to over the years, even today.

So how did Steve Jobs do it?

Well, I’m here to tell you, or at least, shed some light on the topic and perhaps even help you become a better presenter.

The first thing you need to know is that there wasn’t some secret mind control product that tapped into your brain and made you fall in love with everything Steve said, despite how possible that may seem. So if it wasn’t mind control, what was it? Well, Steve used (and mastered) several techniques in his presentations that made him and what he was showing off very relatable to people. Plus, it also helped that Apple products are very very good on their own, as is evident by Apple’s continued success under Tim Cook.

Personal and Conversational

The most important thing about Steve Jobs’ presentations is that they were always very personal, he engaged with the audience. Instead of rambling on about features and stats in a very dry and robotic way, Steve would take a more conversational approach to presenting, talking to the audience as opposed to talking at the audience. Steve also spoke very colloquially when presenting, using words like beautiful, awesome, gorgeous, simple, cool, and of course one of his personal favorites, boom.

The personalized and “real” approach is what made people feel like they would be missing out on something if they didn’t have it, because they could relate it to themselves.

Slow and Steady

Steve’s approach to presenting was always, “slow and steady,” let moments simmer with the audience, let them feel engaged and recognized. Along with the slow and steady approach, Steve would always take his time when presenting, letting the audience fully grasp all of the features and concepts that were being shown off. He would spend a significant amount of time on each feature to ensure people knew why it existed and what it could be used for or why it was useful.

Hand Gestures & Stage Use

Steve also made sure he spoke with his hands, he used them to emphasize points and bring attention to important fact, features, or details. His hand gestures were carefully used, he wasn’t moving them around all the time, just when it mattered.

He also made full use of the stage, making sure to walk back and forth addressing the entire audience as opposed to just one particular side.

Demos & Comedy

fake-iphoneThe use of meaningful demos was a key factor in Steve’s success on stage. As I mentioned, he always took his time to go over features to ensure it clicked with everyone. And once he thought it clicked, he hit that point again at the end of a demo with a recap, further solidifying the purpose and cementing the idea that you need this in your life.

Steve also used comedy in presentations, he liked to be a little silly. This made him more personable and likable to people. An example of this would be when he launched the original iPhone and teased everyone by showing a picture of an iPod Classic with a rotary dial.

RIP Steve, we miss you.


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