by Steve Adubato, PhD
Apple CEO Steve Jobs didn’t just change the world of business, he changed the world. He changed the way we communicate, share information and interact with each other. He was a technological genius, an innovator and a tough and demanding CEO, but he was also one of the most dynamic and effective public speakers in corporate America.
As news organizations reported on his death this past week, they showed video of Jobs on stage--iPod or iPad in hand--communicating and connecting with his audience on a personal and very human level. It wasn’t that Jobs wanted or sought out the attention of “being on stage”. In fact, in many ways, he was known to be a very private person. But once Jobs had the opportunity to talk about the Apple product line that he so intimately helped micromanage and put out to market, he became a technological rock star.
Here are just some of the Steve Jobs’ public communication tools and techniques that the rest of us, regardless of our “chosen field”, can learn from.
--Ask yourself this question before any presentation; “What is the final message I want to leave with my audience?” Jobs had a habit of saying in his presentations; “And one more thing.” And he would do just that--tell you one more thing. Sometimes it was a call to action. Other times it was a question or challenge. Jobs understood the importance of leaving a powerful and lasting impression on your audience as opposed to finishing because you sense your audience is fatigued or that you have covered the material in your speech.
--Steve Jobs saw every public presentation as a performance. It wasn’t simply that he was giving out information about an iPod, an iPhone or some other Apple product. He was putting on a show. As such, the greatest productions require bells and whistles, or in Jobs’ case, video, pictures and animation. It was all intended to keep the audience stimulated and engaged. What Jobs clearly understood was that no matter how dynamic you are as a public speaker, listening to the same person talk for any length of time can wear down an audience. That’s why Steve Jobs always mixed it up so that he wasn’t the only voice you heard or image you saw on stage.
And check out this Jobs communication technique. Instead of harping on the details of a particular product in terms of how it works or what it took to bring it to market, Jobs focused on the impact an Apple product would have on people’s lives. He made it personal. He painted pictures of an individual consumer listening to an iPod or a student doing research on an iPad. He broke it down. He made it real. He made it tangible and visceral. Speakers can’t do that when they are simply dumping data. Jobs understood that and always kept his content relevant to his audience.
Finally, Steve Jobs’ most significant public presentation attribute was his passion. Passion isn’t a technique or a tool. It’s who he was. You can’t manufacture passion. You can’t fake it. You are either passionate about what you’re doing and who you’re serving or you’re not. Steve Jobs had passion in spades and that’s what powered his public speeches. His audience got excited because he was excited. Even in the final years of his life when he was frail and dying of pancreatic cancer, Jobs never lost that passion. It’s a lesson the rest of us, regardless of what we do in the world of business, should never forget. Steve Jobs taught us so much about business—especially about communication…and leadership.