5 Things I Changed to Present Like Steve Jobs

God, what a link bait worthy title. I’m both disgusted and impressed with myself at the same time. 🙂

Anyway, I realized something recently.

I’ve only done a few presentations— about half a dozen– since I’ve launched Breather. Some have been big (Google, Le Web, etc.) but others have been tiny.

But as I got offstage the other week at #Inbound13 in Boston, I realized that my style of presenting has changed significantly since Le Web this past June. And it changed because I deliberately wanted to present my company the way Steve Jobs would do it.

The Ideal Way To Do a Product Launch

Why would you want to present like Steve?

Well, as it turns out, if you want to present something you consider revolutionary, then that is exactly how you should be doing it. Why? Because Apple has a tendency to produce products that revolutionize their industries (at least in the public eye).

But here’s the thing. Presenting something that might be revolutionary, but isn’t yet is extremely difficult. You have to create, and fulfill, a sense of anticipation at the same time. In case you’re wondering, this is super fucking hard.

It’s hard because, right at that moment where you’re watching it, you don’t know for sure whether the iPod, iPad, etc. is revolutionary or not. It’s just a gadget.

But by presenting in just the right way, you are able to create that sense of anticipation.

Here, if you’re really interested, watch Steve present the iPod. As you watch it, think about what it is that the iPod became– but more importantly, look at how Steve had to present, that day, for you to assume that to be true.

Sidenote, you’ll also notice here that Jobs is kind of presenting to an audience of stockholders also. He’s saying Don’t worry, this thing I’m doing isn’t risky. It’s a sure thing. But what else is he doing that you should do?

1. Speak slowly

One thing that you’ll notice is that Steve doesn’t have a lot of talking he actually does. He has only a few points, and he goes deeply into them. That’s it.

If Steve is up there for an hour, he can literally present 3 things during that hour. He does it both by speaking slowly and by using the rest of the stuff, below.

2. Translate the technical

1000 songs? Who gives a damn? What I need to know is that 1000 songs is my whole library. I mean, I already know this, but Steve tells me anyway just in case.

He also tells me how fast Firewire is. An entire CD in 5-10 seconds. Man, that’s fast!

This is one trick I learned a long time ago, and I the first time I did an amazing presentation, it’s because of this one tip.

I had presented this super complicated wifi music box (called a HAL) at an event. Nobody cared about it, even though it was interesting, and I was really upset.

So me and my partner stayed up all night while other people were partying and figured it out.

What was amazing about this music box? Well, it connected people to new music.

So I spent 10 minutes onstage repeating the same thing.

We connect music to people. That’s all I ever said, in different ways.

At the end of the presentation, we got a standing ovation– and they bought a box. 🙂

3. Repeat over and over again

It’s amazing how many times Jobs says the same thing.

1000 songs in your pocket.

1000 songs in your pocket.

Did I mention 1000 songs in your pocket?


4. Speak to the press (and to the bloggers)

The other thing that’s amazing is that our guy at Apple is basically spoon-feeding the press as he is speaking. He is saying what’s amazing about the iPod because it needs to be explained.

It needs to be explained because lots of stuff isn’t clear until you’ve thought about it a lot. But once you’ve thought about it, you’re like WOW! So he wants to get you to understand the wow.

By doing that, Jobs actually magnifies his presentation. I guarantee you he has 3 talking points he wants the press to mention, and he drills down on them again and again. And again.

Did I mention 1000 songs in your pocket?

5. Compare it to everything else on the market

Steve is very good at telling us just how shitty all the other music player alternatives are.

$75 CD player holds one CD? 15 songs on a CD? That’s $5 per song. That’s the baseline. And then he tells us just how good it is compared to the baseline.

$5 is crazy! We do $0.25 a song. Lol.

In my presentation at Le Web, I do this over and over again. We found a gap in the market and we exploited it. Private space sucks, the only alternative is Starbucks. Starbucks for meetings, Starbucks for phone calls, Starbucks to relax. I said this again and again, to point out exactly what the deficiency was.

The side tip to this particular one is– only enter a market if you can DEMOLISH the competition on their offering. It’s natural.

6. Oh, and one more thing

Oh, I did say five, but I meant more… another thing, you need to actually be in awe of what you’ve created.

This one is actually hard. When I was presenting Breather, I knew that we were presenting something incredible– but it’s something that is only incredible in retrospect. Problem being that revolutionary, when just presented quickly, seems boring.

So, when you are presenting, you actually need to almost be like Wow, I really think this is incredible, and be incredibly happy and almost scared of what you are doing.

If you can do this, man does it ever work. You can hear it when Jobs does it– in his voice, in his tone, everywhere.

Oh, and side note, it helps if you are an egomaniac / in love with yourself too. 😉

7. Now, the final thing.

In everything Steve does, the reveal is at the end. The whole time, you are being told about this great thing, but you haven’t even seen it!

All of Apple’s reveals are at the end of the launch. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even care!

This also helps you focus on the product features, and until you’ve seen it, you are even more open to the suggestion that this product is spectacular.

Ok, now rate me.

Here is my Le Web presentation. Regardless of how you feel about my company, take a look and rate me on how well I did. Then, when you present your cool project, you’ll be able to do even better. 🙂

I studied 5 of Jobs’ presentation days before I did mine, and mimicked his style as much as I could. I think I did alright.





25 responses to “5 Things I Changed to Present Like Steve Jobs”

  1. Shaleen Sinha Avatar

    Great job Julien. Yes, I too have studied Jobs style how he himself tells repeteadly that his product is incredible. And it’s pretty simple on the surface – if you don’t like or love your own product or appreciate it, then why anyone else would.

  2. Nikki Avatar

    Great job! I loved how clearly you articulated everything and didn’t overwhelm the audience with a bunch of superfluous jibber jabber. PS. Your outfit rocks. (I notice these things.)

    1. paisano Avatar

      I agree about Julian’s outfit…but didn’t dare say such a thing in public as a dude. Shhh

  3. Manuel Loigeret Avatar

    Great job on explaining the key points. A while ago I told my ex-boss to watch Steve Jobs presentations. My boss was really bad. I mean, I’m really not good at presentations but he was just depressing.
    And he got better… and bought a macbook and an iphone too 🙂

  4. Andy Traub Avatar
    Andy Traub

    “You can unlock it with your phone.”
    Heard that at least 7 times. Well done friend. Well done.

  5. Stephane Potvin Avatar
    Stephane Potvin

    Good day,
    I enjoyed your presentation. You products quite exciting.
    The one thing I was hoping to see in your presentation was excitement.
    Everything else was there but the passion.
    I still enjoyed the tutorial.

  6. MTA Avatar

    Hi Julien;

    Generally you did a good job on presentation, however I think there are 2 things wrong about you.

    First; your outfit. Yeah, you were handsome and elegant, but it is kinda preventing audience to focus on presentation. Even I am a male and straight person I found myself staring at you and inspecting your outfits’ details. Remember how was Steve dressing: A jean and a black pullover. Very simple.

    Second; your mimics. This is first time I watch you and my first impression was: OMG what an arrogant guy! Don’t take it wrong, I like you and I know you are not that kind of guy but you just look that way. Remember how natural was Steve Jobs on stage, even though he was one of the most arrogant guys on earth.

    If you want to improve your presentation skills I highly suggest you to watch this great Ted Talk. It also examines Steve Job’s presentations.


    P.S: I want to thank you for your great posts. You are great at motivating and pushing people to take actions.

  7. robert ostrander Avatar
    robert ostrander

    Steve Jobs never spoke down to his audience, he spoke to them in the style of a great teacher. He made it interesting. He kept it simple and logical. People were free to decide for themselves within the context of his facts, which were always persuasive. The way he presented himself, his dress, his demeanor, engendered trust. We felt that in so many ways he was one of us.

    1. TorBaker Avatar

      Tongue placed firmly in cheek, right? :)….because I felt that Julien mostly did the exact opposite of what you described.

  8. Christopher McBride Avatar
    Christopher McBride

    I thought you did a good job with a difficult subject, especially since that subject is not an object but an idea. You linked it well with the button, the phone, the app. Just like Steve. But you worked harder to sell than Steve does. Maybe it’s ego, charisma,the thing that distills new ideas into objects, into shared experience, and that so quickly makes us want not to challenge but to “get” it. That and super-sharp opportunism, the genius way Steve feeds on (even as he feeds) the universality of our simplest “needs” to feel cool and in control.

    Your idea is complicated — not so much logistically, but idealogically. Even in relation to you. As a result, the “work” you’re doing making real your idea starts to “show” a little, just before your film, and slightly diminishes your own buy-in. Maybe try less to insist, and more to invite and incite. Talk a little less, play a little more.

  9. Scott Stratten Avatar

    Well done man. I want the app, now please.

  10. Jim Krenz Avatar

    Learn from Steve Jobs—that is [insanely] great.

    But drop the mimicking—the presentational style in the Le Web video did not feel authentic.

    Be yourself and present naturally—speak from your heart.

    End of sermon.

  11. Rohan Jayasekera Avatar

    Great post; thank you! Now I know how to present the product I’m working on, when it’s time for that.

  12. Curt Thurston Avatar

    I thought the presentation was very good as well. In a direct comparison to Jobs, in my opinion, in Steve’s presentations he would come a cross as a little more excited; more dynamic range in tone. You seemed a little more ‘severe’ to me. My only comment on your appearance is the cuffs in your jeans. In my opinion, it would have been better to have worn a pair that fit you perfectly.
    The best part of your presentation, in my opinion, was the delivery. Very clear, no major speed fluctuations (which I tend to do), and the general intensity. You established an “Importance” to your product early on and that never diminished.

  13. Jared Taylor Avatar

    In case you haven’t seen it, this is a great TED talk on the structure of great speeches. Uses Jobs as an example. You hit on most of the points 🙂 http://www.ted.com/talks/nancy_duarte_the_secret_structure_of_great_talks.html

  14. Mark Avatar

    Why no talk about price?

    1. TorBaker Avatar

      Go figure, lol…

  15. AmazingSusan Avatar

    Good job. Could be better. I’m a semi-retired professional public speaking coach (among other things!). If you want to take your talks/presentations to the next level, feel free to get in touch. Together we can improve your delivery by at least one order of magnitude with about one hour of one-on-one coaching via Skype. Good job on this one. Congratulations 🙂

  16. Suzannah Baum Avatar

    Congratulations on getting such great exposure for your product with a solid presentation. There were a few things, however, that I thought could make it more powerful:

    1. Content: I see how you followed the Steve Jobs example quite closely, where he laid out the problem/issue that he was solving, and then waited until the very end to show the product. But in most of his later presentations, he introduced the product much earlier in the presentation. I found that it took a bit too long to get to the ‘purpose of your presentation. It took about 3 minutes before you got to the issue of the need for private space, and then 8 minutes until you introduced your product. Steve Jobs introduced the iPod within 2.5 minutes. So I would get to the product info faster. Also, you showed a great promo video, and the picture of the app on your phone, but I think it would be worthwhile for you to show an actual demo of the product. How does it work? Your audience wants to know.

    2. Delivery: A few small things stood out. You kept grabbing your arm. There was a lot of pacing back and forth on the stage (and it’s a big stage, so of course that’s why it’s tempting…but that doesn’t make it useful). You were convincing, but not quite passionate about the product. Throughout most of your presentation, you had an ultra-serious face. But there was a moment when you smiled, and it literally lit you up – so smile more! I think it’ll also add to your enthusiasm level.

    Also, some of your commenters discussed your clothes, and I agree on many points. My suggestion: For your next talk, consider going with a dark t-shirt underneath the jacket, which comes a little higher up your chest. Your earrings are already one extra thing that may (or may not) distract your audience, but you need to keep all eyes on YOU – not your tattoos (as lovely as they are, I’m sure).

    Finally: Don’t waste the first few seconds of your presentation introducing yourself (“Hi, I’m Julien Smith”), especially when you’ve already been introduced by the emcee. Use those seconds to create a opening line that really ‘grabs’ your audience.

    Dissertation complete. Kudos to you for your product launch at such a prestigious venue. I look forward seeing more videos of you on the platform again!

  17. Jim Spencer Avatar

    One of the best thing about this post maybe the new association between Julian and Steve. 🙂

  18. Rico Compagnie Avatar

    If you want to excel at something, learn from the masters.

  19. Karen Avatar

    Congratulations on your presentation!

    To me, it is obvious that you were inspired by Steve’s presentation style.
    Looking at the video of Steve that you posted, and then at your presentation, I noticed one thing: Both Steve and you walk a lot on stage. When you look a little closer, however, you may notice that whenever Steve is making an important point, he stands still and looks at the audience directly. For me, that really underlines the argument he is making. I personally think that moving on stage is great, but it makes more of an impression on me when a person is confidently standing still when delivering an important argument.
    Maybe for your next talk, you could do the same?

  20. Jon Glat Avatar

    Hi julien,

    Overall I love the product your selling and I’ve watched this presentation twice just because the concept is so simple and useful. I think that it might be woth thinking about reframing the presentation though. You speak continuously about the city and society and evolution. And while it’s an interesting way of thinking about it, most people aren’t going to be motivated to agree that this is a solution on the grounds that you take: evolutionary perspective of the city as this kind of super organism. They’d be much more likely to think about how does this affect my life? To do this I think you need to triggering people’s minds the context which you get to eventually that we all personally experience. Living in the city, I always hated when sirens disrupt a phone call. Or I need to do some reading between point a and b but can’t find a place to sit in the park. Make it personal. Invoke these common issues at the start, not a treatise on viewing the what a city lacks on a macro scale without addressing the micro. Afterall society if that concept has any meaning isn’t ethereal or a super organism. It’s a group of individuals pursuing their own happiness, living, wanting, loving, doing. I felt detached trying to focus on your theories when ally it would service your product more by really illustrating how this affects me. It’s not that you don’t have this perspective in your talk, but I didn’t feel like I was shown how revolutionary this can be, simple told in an abstract detached way. Does this make sense?

  21. Eric White Avatar

    Nice job on the tips for presenting and also the presentation itself. One of the things I most liked about your presentation (aside from the kickass idea), was how you made it very clear right off the bat exactly what the problem was. Something like, “People don’t always want space, but when they do they want it immediately.” Powerful yet simple enough for anyone to grasp. Killer job sir.

  22. Camila Avatar

    Hi Julien,
    Thank you for sharing.
    Some points I observed in your presentation:
    – It was pleasantly repetitive and simple, with a very clear slide show.
    – I think your clean yet quirky outfit suits your innovative product (from what I noticed at the opening page of Breather, you like clean and quirky).
    – It was lengthy and it took you too long to present the product. I believe that if you wait for too long to show what you’ve got, you you may inspire doubt in the audience, it could be like have something to hide, or that you have to make a bigger deal than what it actually is in order to grab attention. None of this is true about your product, you have a great one so there shouldn’t be any problem in presenting it as soon as you can.
    I will go now try to find a copy of your book!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *