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Okay, the iPad is Pretty ... How Steve Jobs Gets Everyone so Excited

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, January 28, 2010

There's been no end to the excitement, hype and drooling over Steve Job's unveiling of Apple's latest cool, sleek gadget: the iPad, which is kind of like a larger iPhone that can be applied to more standard computing applications. (A video clip of Jobs' presentation can be seen here.) 

But, once again, we see everyone going gaga over the bells and whistles of a new technology before we can even thoroughly think through how it can serve our business and professional lives. Which is what Steve Jobs is good at.

How does he do it—get everyone so excited over a product that has yet to ship? And he does it constantly—from the iMacs to the iTouch. Wouldn't you love to have even a piece of that magic when you're pitching ideas for a new underwriting system or agency portal? (Just 1% of Steve Jobs charisma would infinitesimally boost my presentations.)

The good news is there is a method to Jobs' madness, which can be learned. Carmine Gallo, a communications coach and author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, dissected Jobs' delivery, and devised tips on how to jazz up our own presentations. Gallo shared his pointers in a recent CIO interview:

Build key talking points as brief as Twitter posts: "Jobs describes every product or new feature with a one-line description that can fit in a Twitter post," Gallo says. "By doing so, he helps you mentally categorize the product. He gives you the big picture before filling in the details ... Audiences are looking for a 'headline,' a way to position the new product in their own minds."

Stick to the "rule of three": "We learn best by absorbing information in chunks, and chunks of three seem to work best," Gallo explains. "Jobs divides every presentation into three parts."

Keep the PowerPoints simple and understated: "Pictures trump words," Gallo advises. He observes that Jobs' slides are "stunningly visual and minimalistic. He's not afraid of empty space. Sometimes, there's only one word or a simple photograph."

Show your humanity: Gallo observes that Jobs shows a good sense of humor, and is even self-depreciating on stage. "On Sept. 9, 2009, when he returned to the world stage after having a liver transplant, he was noticeably thinner but he had more energy and enthusiasm than most presenters. He's also self-deprecating, which helps. He said he had to gain about 30 pounds so he's eating a lot of ice cream. That's funny and it makes him seem more human. I also think his illness has made him more introspective."

Build up to the "holy smokes" moment: Most presenters launch right into the introduction of their product, Gallo points out. "Not Jobs. His presentations are theatrical productions, complete with heroes, villains, stunning backdrops, a supporting cast and that one memorable moment that was worth the price of admission." Then, after an incredible build-up, Jobs brings out the product—the "holy smokes" moment, "that part of the presentation that everybody talks about the next day."

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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