The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Here I'm just sharing Carmine Gallo's presentation he posted on the Slideshare. Carmine Gallo is the author of two international best-seller books, "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience" and "The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs", which reveals the principles that have driven Steve Jobs’ success and that can help readers achieve incredible breakthroughs. I have not read the books but looking at the points presented in the slides, I'm sure the books contain wealth of good tips and strategies for speakers/presenters.

For those who's doing a presentation is your bread and butter, then I would highly recommend you to spare a few minutes of your precious time to view the slides. If you can't make it, below I have extracted some important quotes and points from the whole presentation (verbatim).

"A person can have the greatest idea in the world. But if that person can't convince enough other people, it doesn't matter" - Gregory Berns

"The single most important thing you can do to dramatically improve your presentations is to have a story to tell before you work on your PowerPoint file" - Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points

In the nutshell, to create and deliver a captivating, effective and memorable presentation, you have to:
  • Create the story
  • Deliver the experience
  • Refine and rehearse
Steve Jobs presentation is strikingly simple, highly visual and completely devoid of bullet points.

Researchers have discovered that ideas are much more likely to be remembered if they are presented as pictures instead of words or pictures paired with words. If information is presented orally, people remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture. According to John Medina, your brain inteprets every letter as a picture, so wordy slides literally choke your brain!

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" - Maya Angelou.

Check out other great presentations below:


  1. Thanks for sharing :)

    Just went through the Steve Jobs presentation... a lot of useful gems to reflect and adapt :)

    Though, people often forget that Steve Jobs and his presentation style is not what has changed the world... It is the innovations and amazing products Apple has delivered over the years, or the substance itself that has given us a really positive opinion about him (he talks big in a simple way, but more importantly he delivers).

    In other words, if you are selling rubbish, you might fool someone for a while using great techniques, but people will eventually figure it out and get a sour taste.

    However, amplifying amazing products and services with a great presentation... now that is Steve Jobs.

    For example, Obama is also an amazing presenter, but now many have a sour taste of him due to not delivering his initial promises.

    So, in a nutshell, your presentation skills are important, but if your results, services, product or things is rubbish... You are not going to have a great impact over a longer period.

    Thanks again for sharing. Your blog is getting juicier by the day :)


  2. Karim, my first post on your blog and I like your blog.

    I teach Professional Practice which is a fourth year unit in a Mechanical Engineering degree. One of the main activities of the unit is communication and presentation.

    One of the problems I notice is that students tend to feel insecure with their English. Because of this, they put in the whole text on the slide which leads to bla bla bla. Even if they are penalised for doing so, they will still read off the slides.

    However those who really focus on telling a story and ignore the fact that their English isn't going to be perfect anyway often do very well.

    The difference is not just about confidence, but also a matter of rehearsing.

    So to the majority of students out there, English is not our first language, so we are not expected to speak perfect English. Just focus on telling the story and make sure that you rehearse and rehearse. The top guys do this and so should you.


  3. Thank you Aaron for your comment. Language proficiency can affect the quality of presentation but more importantly to me is the confidence to stand in front of the audience. Confidence can be undermined if we don't know our stuff well or we are not well prepared for the presentation. As for our Malaysian students generally speaking their presentation and communication skill are relatively weak. I think we have to somehow embed the skills in the curriculum right from the primary school. The nurturing process should start at the earliest possible stage so that it becomes second nature.

  4. Karim, I am just wondering what is the level of competency we expect at the primary and secondary education level. I think presentation skills can be trained particularly on the job and I am sure that you have had your fair share of 'lousy' presentations from which you learned from. But the attitude, the culture of 'kaizen' that results in self reflection, lifelong learning attributes which in turn lead to one's attempts to continuously improve presentation skills, these need to be instilled throughout the education system (including the academics themselves!). To show empathy as to what the audience is there for, is really quite difficult to teach and maybe you have some ideas on how do teach empathy.

    Unfortunately university students really have the worst role-models for presentation skills. As lecturers, we do need to impart knowledge and this tends to lead to a lot of information on the slides. However, the objective of real-life presentations in the industry is more varied - it could be reporting financial/technical progress or to influence others (like Steve Job).

    I did not go through all the links on your blog on presentations, but the few that I clicked on seem to focus very much on the visual aspects of presentations. These are useful for Steve Jobs, but will not work for more detailed presentations with different audiences. I see students do very well when presenting general topics like the collapse of Highland Towers but fail miserably when it comes to giving their final year project presentations which are more technical.

    One of the best presentations I have learnt from was by the then VC of Cambridge University who gave a talk at the Royal Society in London. He used Powerpoint, with white background and shortened sentences. Just like that, no gimmicks, no animation or colour scheme. Just simple plain old slide. Have you come across the idea that we need to have a dark background to deliver good presentations (this is practiced by Steve Jobs)? I gave a lecture once in a Canadian and someone mentioned how she was surprised that I could give a decent talk using white background. I was astonished and thought about how much emphasis we place on Powerpoint itself rather than how we use Powerpoint as a tool to deliver our story.

    Anyway, the following are some nitty-gritty aspects of my students' presentations that I am concerned of (apart from not trying to tell a story and rehearsing sufficiently):
    1. Time - presentations should be on time, not too short and never, ever go beyond the time allowed.
    2. Abbreviations - you may know what CFBG is but not the audience.
    3. Graphs that have no axis titles or units
    4. Numbers and numbers and numbers - leave out the not important info but keep the important ones significant, or convert to graphs to show trends.
    5. Keeping saying 'you know' or fidgeting with the sleeves - rehearse in front of the mirror and see if you like yourself doing that!
    5. Monotone voice - walk around a bit.


  5. Thank you for your lengthy comment - a lot of useful points here. I think there are a few elements to consider in acquiring good presentation skills and of course continuous practice and training would hone it. I do feel that this so-called 'soft skills' can be infused and embedded in our curriculum. At primary level, for example, programme such as debate and storytelling can be used as part of classroom activities. This is the realm of education people - they should be able to advise teachers. I'm sure much can be done to inculcate this skill in our students. Not that we want to produce lawyers but in this era of k-economy and k-worker a reasonably good communication skills is essential. I think communication skill is also somehow related to cultural background but I'm not in a position to say more about this.

    I agree with you that depending on the type of presentation, we have to strike a balance between graphic and text. As for colour scheme, well, again I'm not an expert in instructional design but I know there a few good books on this. Personally I would go for simplicity and yet not too bland. I guess colors were created by God for good reason. The bottom line is the quality of a presentation is dependent on multidimensional elements, not only the slide - the way how the presentation is organized (should be short and sweet), the content, the flow, the way it is delivered, the extent of audience engagement, etc., not to forget the experience of the presenter. I like to watch TED talks because you can find a mix beg of excellent right down to 'hyperactive' speakers.


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