The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The presentation secretes of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo book cover

Summary of the book “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs”: In the business world, the ability to convey an idea and convince an audience is vital, and Steve Jobs was a master at it. The author, Carmine Gallo, a communication guru, three-time Wall Street Journal bestseller and Harvard University instructor, reveals all that makes Steve Jobs’ presentations a success. The whole thing is presented in three acts containing several scenes (chapters), like in a play, and he routinely refers us to one or more of the more than 70,000 videos of Steve Jobs available on YouTube to reinforce his remarks. The author promises us that if we read and study the examples in this book, your presentations will never be the same again.

By Carmine Gallo, 2016, 273 pages.

Note: This is a guest review written by Hamidul of ‘The Supers Entrepreneurs’ blog.

Review and summary of “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs”:

Act 1: Create the Story

In this section, the different chapters (scenes) will help you build the story behind your brand. A compelling story will give you the confidence to win over your audience.

Scene 1: Plan in Analog

“Marketing is theater. It’s like staging a performance.”

– John Sculley

Steve Jobs broke into the digital world, but creating the script and story line for his presentations was done with tools as basic as a pen and paper. Nancy Duarte, the person behind Al Gore’s award-winning presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, suggests that a presenter spend 90 hours on preparing a one-hour presentation that contains 30 slides, but only one-third of that time should be spent on creating those slides (in PowerPoint or Keynote, for example).

Beware of the pitfalls of PowerPoint, which immediately tempts us to capture our ideas in the form of a list. Create a visual presentation to inspire your audience. It’s the story, not the slides, that will grab the audience’s imagination. Cliff Atkinson, the author of Beyond Bullet Points, recommends the following three steps in creating a presentation, whether in PowerPoint or Keynote:

Writing -> Sketching  -> Producing

Keep the following in mind when creating your PowerPoint or Keynote presentation:

  • The headline: What is the one thing you want your audience to remember? Your headline should be short (140 characters) and memorable. For example: ‘Apple’s skinny MacBook is fat with features’; ‘Today, Apple is reinventing the phone!’
  • Thepassionstatement: Steve Jobs exuded passion in every presentation he gave. Spend a few minutes completing this sentence: “I am extremely excited to tell you about this product [company, initiative, feature, etc.] because ____.” Then share that sentence, express it!
  • Three key messages: Write down the three key messages you want your audience to take away.
  • Metaphors and analogies: Decide which tool you want to use to lay out your key messages. According to Aristotle, the most powerful motivator is a metaphor. For example, here’s a metaphor Steve Jobs used: “A computer for me is the most remarkable tool we’ve ever invented. It’s like a bicycle for our minds.”
    Its close cousin is: analogy. Analogy allows us to better understand concepts that are foreign to us. For example, “The microprocessor is the brain of your computer.”
  • Demonstrations: Can you do a demonstration with your product? If you can, add it to your script. Bring your product to life.
  • Partners: Steve Jobs regularly shared the stage with his partners, for example Madonna, at the launch of iTunes, or the CEOs of Intel, Fox or Sony.
  • Testimonials: Your customers want to hear success stories. Feed your presentation with customer success stories, either in writing or, even better, in a video.
  • Video clips: Steve Jobs used video media very often.
  • Graphics, statistics, andprops: Appeal to your audience’s different senses: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Don’t be afraid to pick up and pass an object through the audience if the opportunity arises.

Spend time on creating the story, rather than creating the presentation (in PowerPoint or Keynote). Use any or all of the above-suggested elements in your presentation.

A Steve Jobs presentation follows Aristotle’s 5-point rule of persuasion:

  1. Deliver a story or plot that arouses the interest and curiosity of your audience
  2. Pose a problem that requires a solution or answer
  3. Propose a solution to the problem you have posed
  4. Describe specific benefits in using the solution presented
  5. Make a call to action

Scene 2: Answer the One Question that Matters Most

”You must start with the customer experience and work backward toward the technology – not the other way around.”

– Steve Jobs, May 25, 1997, World Developers Conference

In the following video, “The First iMac Introduction [1],” Steve Jobs, in May 1998, pitched the first iMac. The value he puts forward about this iMac is that it will enable quick and easy access to the Internet. You will also notice humoristic undertones thrown in with some of the turns of phrase. Your audience wants to be informed about your product, educated about how it works, and entertained in the process. However, most importantly, you need to answer the question: Why should I care about what you’re telling me?

Here is another example where the goal is to convince the audience (customers and developers) on the merits of the new Intel-Apple partnership: The Intel Switch Revealed [2].

While preparing your presentation, keep in mind that it’s not about you, it’s all about them. Furthermore, do not forget the one question you need to answer in order to retain your audience’s attention and keep them engaged: “Why should I care about what you are telling me?”

If you wanted your audience to remember only one thing, what would it be?

Avoid jargon, simplify your language as much as possible for your audience. It should be easy for your audience to understand. Explain the benefits of your product to your (target) audience, early, often, and clearly. Steve Jobs didn’t give people time to guess.

Make sure this message is repeated in all your marketing materials.

In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, the author provides a chart with several examples of how Steve Jobs “sells the benefit of a product or feature“: Keynote Software, iPod nano, Genius feature for iTunes, etc.

Be careful not to fall into the “look at me” trap.  Avoid putting up information that only aims to make yourself look good. Always think from your audience’s point of view.

Steve Jobs never sold his product; he sold the dream of a better future.

Steve Jobs explained the “why” before the “how”. Your audience doesn’t care about your product. People only care about themselves. Sell the dream, not the product.

Scene 3: Develop a Messianic Sense of Purpose

Great presenters are passionate because they follow their hearts. In the documentary “Triumph of the Nerds”, Steve Jobs said, “I was worth $1 million when I was 23, $10 million when I was 24, and $100 million when I was 25, but I didn’t care because I never did it for the money.”

It all starts with passion. Steve Jobs spoke with passion, enthusiasm, and energy. We all have a purpose. Steve Jobs found his at a young age. Find yours or keep looking until you do. Video: You’ve got to find what you love [3]

Steve Jobs was utterly convinced that his creations were changing the world for the better. He was able to persuade his teams and lead them in this quest for a better future. He expressed this to anyone who would listen.

Everyone has a story to tell. Your product or project is bound to improve the lives of a number of people. Delve deep into your mind, identify the thing you are most passionate about, and express it loud and clear.

Develop a “passion statement” and share it. Give your prospect a sincere explanation as to why you are thrilled to be working with them.

If you want to be a brilliant speaker, but you don’t like your job, change careers. You can be financially successful in a job you don’t like, but you will never be considered an inspirational speaker.

Scene 4: Create Twitter-Like Headlines

“Today, Apple reinvents the phone!”

– Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

Apple headlines are memorable because they meet three criteria: they are concise (27 characters), they are specific, and they describe a personal benefit.

Here are some of Apple’s headlines:

  • The greenest laptops
  • iPhone 3G. Twice as fast at half the price.

The fastest browser on Mac, and according to many, the best browser ever created The phrase with which the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, introduced their company to their investors:

  • With one click, Google gives you access to all the world’s information.

One investor told the author:

  • If you can’t describe what you do in 10 words or less, I’m not investing, I’m not buying, I’m not interested.


  • Starbucks creates a third place between work and home.

In the “Introduction of Keynote by Steve Jobs [4]” presentation, Steve Jobs backs this up with catchy headlines that could actually sum up the essence of the presentation. Steve Jobs would also repeat the headlines in his speech.

Repeat the headline in your speech, marketing materials, on the website, and wherever else necessary.

Remember that the headline is a phrase that promises a better future. It’s not about you. It’s about them.

Scene 5: Draw a Road Map

Steve Jobs always followed the rule of three. This can be seen, for example, in the presentation “Steve Jobs Introducing The iPhone.”

Talk about three things in your presentation. This will create a road map for your audience to latch onto. For example, this could be a three-part presentation, talking about three features, or doing a three-part demo.

Create a list of all the elements (information about your product, service, company, etc.) that you would like to share with your audience.

Categorize this list until you have only three key messages. This group of three messages is the road map for your pitch or presentation.

For each message, use one of the rhetorical devices you learned in Scene 1: a personal story, facts, an example, an analogy, a metaphor, or a testimonial.

Scene 6: Introduce the Antagonist

In every story, there is a villain. Steve Jobs’ presentations are no exception to this rule.

An example:

  • 1984 Apple’s Macintosh Commercial. In 1984, IBM was the enemy.

Also watch this presentation:

  • “ Steve Jobs Introducing The iPhone [7].” Steve Jobs poses the problem by systematically raising questions that he then answers with the “solution.” Problem + Solution = classic Steve Jobs: Why do we need an amazing user interface? How will we communicate with it?

It is very important to define the common enemy.  It attracts fans, incites controversy, creates loyalty, makes us think, argue and buy!

You need a phrase to introduce your enemy: why do we need this?

An example:

  • Safari Web Browser Introduction [8]. Question: Why? Why a new browser, when there are already several competitors on the market? Solution: Because it is faster and better integrated with the Google search engine.

You need to create a space for your solution in your audience’s brain to prepare them for the message you are going to deliver. So, it’s crucial.

Introduce the antagonist early on in your presentation Always ask the question before revealing the solution. You can do this by presenting your customer’s issues in a very vivid way through imagery.

Build your pitch by answering the following four questions:

  • What do you do?
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How are you different?
  • Why should I care?

Spend time describing the problem in detail.  It should become tangible to your audience. Describe the pain around this issue.

Remember, people don’t care about your solution. They care about solving their problems.

Scene 7: Reveal the Hero

”The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way.”

– Steve Jobs

Once you’ve placed the antagonist – the problem, your customer’s pain – describe in a clear way how your product or service solves that problem.

An example:

  • Apple Keynote (1983) [9]. In this video, Steve Jobs describes the enemy (Big Blue), as one might do with one of the best “James Bond” movies, and then presents the hero who will save the world.

In Steve Jobs’ presentations, the hero’s goal isn’t always to kill the bad guy, but to make our lives better.

An example:

  • The First Ever iPod Introduction (2001) [10]. ‘’No one has yet found the recipe for digital music. We (Apple) will.’’

Describe the state of the current market, followed by your vision of what it could be.

When presenting your solution, avoid jargon. The solution must be simple.

“Unless you have a lot of passion about what you offer, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through. I think half the battle is there.”

– Steve Jobs

Remember, Steve Jobs believes that until you are passionate about a problem you absolutely want to solve, you won’t have the perseverance to stick it out.

Intermission: the 10-minute rule

Various studies have shown, through cognitive science research, that you will lose your audience’s attention after 10 minutes.

Steve Jobs didn’t give his audience’s brains time to get bored. He was always planning demonstrations, a second or third speaker, a video clip, etc.

Do the same.

Act 2: Deliver the Experience

The six chapters in this section provide you with specific techniques to turn your presentation into a must-see visual experience.

Scene 8: Channel Their Inner Zen

”Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

– Leonardo Da Vinci

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

– Hans Hofmann

”If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

– Albert Einstein

The author presents several tables of Steve Jobs’ presentations. On one side, you find what he says when he displays a slide, and on the other side, you find what you can see on the slide. Steve Jobs displays a word or two, images or photos to support his narrative.


  • The First Ever iPod Introduction (2001) [10].
  • Macworld 2008 Keynote Address [11]

Steve Jobs’ presentations are extremely lean and simple.

Remove everything you can from your presentation (PowerPoint or Keynote) to keep only the essence.

Avoid bulleted lists. Use images instead.

Have no more than one theme per slide and top it off with an image or photo.

Make your slides visually appealing.

Scene 9: Dress Up Your Numbers

Use numbers to support the main elements of your presentation. However, be careful not to overwhelm your audience with numbers.

Place your numbers in a context that speaks to your audience.


  • Macworld 2008 Keynote Address [10]. “To date, we’ve sold four million iPhones. If you divide four million by two hundred days, that’s an average of twenty thousand iPhones per day.” Steve Jobs makes these numbers much more meaningful to the audience by scaling them down to a daily rate.
  • The First Ever iPod Introduction (2001). [11] “1000 songs in your pocket”. Steve Jobs explains what 5 GB of space means and differentiates the iPod from its competitors at the time.

Make your numbers speak to your audience in a context they are familiar with, while being specific and relevant.

Sometimes analogies are the best way to contextualize numbers so that people will understand.

The author gives various examples of how he has helped translate very large numbers that are not very relevant to the public or investors into something more relevant and contextual through analogies.

Use analogies to “dress up” your numbers.

Scene 10: Use “Amazingly Zippy” Words

Steve Jobs used simple, clear, straightforward, jargon-free words:

”We’ve designed the buttons on the screen to look so good you’ll want to lick them.”

Remove all jargon and buzzwords from your presentation.

If your presentation is confusing, complex, and rife with jargon, you will lose an opportunity to engage your audience.

You’ll notice that the words Steve Jobs uses are commonplace words: excellent, incredible, gorgeous.

Have fun with the words! Expressing your enthusiasm is a good thing.

Scene 11: Share the Stage

Steve Jobs regularly shared the stage with his partners, employees and customers, such as Intel CEO Bill Gates or the Twentieth Century Fox CEO.

A customer’s opinion is good. Having a customer on stage to vouch for you is even better.

At launch, make sure you have customers who have tested your product to validate your claims.

Your customers need to believe in you. Customer testimonials or magazine reviews will help you convince your customers.

Incorporate customer testimonials directly into your presentation.

Thank your employees, partners, and customers. Do it often.

Scene 12: Stage Your Presentation with Props

Do a demo during your presentation. Make it short, sweet, and coherent.

Offer something for your entire audience with visual, auditory and kinesthetic elements.

For example:

  • Apple Special Event, October 2008 [12]: Steve Jobs passes around the high-tech hardware of the new MacBook among the audience. The demo lasted 2 minutes.
  • Give your audience a pen and paper and give them an exercise to do.
  • Invite someone from your audience to join you on stage.

During your demo, focus on only one element, only one feature, etc.

Scene 13: Reveal a “Holy Shit” Moment

”People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

Steve Jobs always planned a memorable moment in his presentation, the only thing he wanted his audience to remember.  He would imprint that element on his audience’s brain by creating a strong emotional impact.

For example:

  • Macworld San Francisco 2008-The MacBook Air Intro [13]: He pulled a MacBook pro out of an envelope to demonstrate and clearly mark in his audience’s mind that it was the world’s thinnest laptop.
  • The First Ever iPod Introduction (2001): [10] He took an iPod out of his pocket to demonstrate and clearly mark in the mind of his audience how small and thin the iPod was, and that it could still store a thousand songs.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to introduce a product as revolutionary as Apple’s. A personal story can help create that emotional connection that will make your message memorable.

Plan a “Holy Shit” moment. It has to be an incredible announcement, a personal story, an unexpected piece of information or demonstration – in short, something memorable for your audience.

Write the script. Create something memorable that your audience will talk about even after your presentation. Think of surprise elements that you can fit into your presentation.

Practice and rehearse this moment. Don’t make mistakes that could cause the moment to fall flat. Make sure the slides appear correctly and the demo works.

Second intermission

In this intermission, the author tells us how Phil Schiller, who had the difficult task of replacing Steve Jobs at Macworld 2009, used the Steve Jobs touch and the techniques described in this act to make his presentation memorable.

Act 3: Refine and Rehearse

In these final chapters, we will see how Steve Jobs refines and prepares his presentation to create a strong emotional connection with his audience.

Scene 14: Master Stage Presence

”Always act confident.”

– Barack Obama

How you say things is just as important as what you say.

The author describes the way Steve Jobs emphasizes certain words and the accompanying gestures.

Steve Jobs did three important things that anyone can do: maintain eye contact with his audience, have an open body posture, and frequently use his hands to reinforce his words.

Steve Jobs was able to keep in touch with his audience because he practiced his slides several weeks in advance. He knew his slides and transitions. Most presenters don’t practice enough, and it shows in their presentations. During a visual presentation (with little or no text), it is also best not to look at your slides, but rather at your audience as you deliver the intended message.

Don’t cross your arms. Don’t keep anything (desk, etc.) between you and your audience.

The author analyzes the words associated with the inflexions used by Steve Jobs in some of his presentations.

Pay particular attention to your pace, breaks, and volume.

Don’t underestimate the impact of your nonverbal communication.

Videotape yourself, then watch your body language and listen to your voice to improve your speaking skills.

Scene 15: Make It Look Effortless

Steve Jobs looked comfortable, at ease, and confident in his presentations. His secret: he practiced his presentation for hours and days in advance!

If you want to present like Steve Jobs, spend more time practicing and rehearsing your presentation than you do now.

Researchers have demonstrated the number of hours it takes to become an expert in a given skill: 10,000 hours, or 20 hours a week over a 10-year period.  The Beatles, other stars, athletes, and Steve Jobs confirm this rule with their first outstanding performance 10 years after their debut. [14][15]

“Spontaneity'” is the result of planned practice. Making your presentation “come alive” takes practice. You must accept this fact to elevate your presentation beyond mediocrity.

Recording and videotaping yourself is essential. Observe eye contact, body language, words like “uh”, “actually” and other fillers, your voice, your energy. Recording the first 5 minutes is enough to identify your bad habits.

The author offers a technique to get an answer to all questions:

  • Identify the questions most likely to be raised.
  • Put the question in a category. Based on the author’s experience, all questions should fall into no more than 7 categories.
  • Prepare a response for each category.
  • Listen carefully to the question you are asked and identify the category from which to draw your answer.
  • Think of these responses as mini-presentations.

Scene 16: Wear the Appropriate Costume

Steve Jobs always dressed the same way for his Keynotes: a black sweater and jeans. Should you do the same? No.

Steve Jobs dressed appropriately. If he had to convince investors or go to his banker for funds, he dressed accordingly.

Here is Steve Jobs in a suit, early in his career: Nightline interview with Steve Jobs (1981) [16]

Make sure your outfit reflects the person you want to represent, the leader you want to be. Dress appropriately for the situation.

Scene 17: Toss the Script

Steve Jobs spoke to his audience by looking them in the eye. He didn’t look at his slides. You need to practice properly so that you can do without your script.

Steve Jobs’ presentations were highly visual. They worked like a teleprompter for him. One idea per slide.

Great actors rehearse their lines months before their performance. Do they learn their lines by heart? Yes, and yet their speech sounds natural. That’s what you have to do too.

The author offers a technique to memorize and present like Steve Jobs:

  1. Write your entire script in full sentences. Use no more than three or four sentences to convey an idea.
  2. Highlight one key word per sentence, and practice your presentation.
  3. Remove unnecessary words; leave in only keywords, and practice your presentation.
  4. Memorize the one idea you want your audience to remember per slide. The imagery on your slide becomes the representation of your keyword, your idea on that slide.
  5. Practice your presentation in its entirety, without your notes, using your slides as a prompter.

Notes are not forbidden. Steve Jobs used them for demos, for example, but they only contained a few words.

Scene 18: Have Fun

“I have no secrets. There are no rules to follow in business. I just work hard and, as I always have done, believe I can do it. Most of all, though, I try to have fun.”

– Richard Branson

Create “Infotainment“, mix information with entertainment: your audience must be entertained while listening to what you have to say. The author shares examples of how Steve Jobs had fun with his audience during these presentations, with choreographies, jokes, or funny personal stories.

Despite all the preparation, there are going to be some mishaps. Don’t dwell on these problems, move forward with your presentation no matter what.

If something goes wrong, don’t let it derail your presentation. Focus on the big picture of your presentation, have fun, and don’t let the little things stop you.

The author gives several examples of how Steve Jobs moved forward despite the unexpected things he may have encountered on stage. He never lost his enthusiasm, no matter what.

Conclusion on The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo:

I had read Dale Carnegie’s book “The Art of Public Speaking and had been practicing what I learned from it for several years. And I had even attended the 12-week Dale Carnegie training course in my city. I may not have been the best, but I was quite comfortable speaking in public. After reading this book, “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” it was like I had been slapped upside the head. As the author promises, this book took my presentations to a whole ‘nother level.

Why did I decide to read The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs? It was while preparing for my second interview for my dream job”: working in the fascinating world of innovation within the aviation industry!  For this interview, I was asked to present an innovative idea. You will find in the following article the steps I followed to produce an innovative idea.

For the presentation, I decided to turn to “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” which I had bought two years ago but had not read. This time, I read it, watched the Steve Jobs videos mentioned and applied the principles as I went along in preparing my presentation.

And in the end, I did it! I landed the job over the competition! Two years later, the manager who attended my presentation still talks about it to this day, and about the impact it had.

Never underestimate the impact a speech can have on your career or your life.  This skill will serve you well whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee within a company, and even in your personal life.

I continue to revisit this book as I prepare for major presentations.

I regularly give lectures and webinars on entrepreneurship, and I owe much of my success to this very book.

Now, I will be revisiting this article before and during my preparations for any important presentation. 😉 I encourage you to do the same. Read this book and bookmark this page! Your presentations will never be the same again, as the author of the book promises.

Strong points of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs:

  • What good is eloquent speaking if your script is boring? What’s the point of having a powerful speech if you can’t deliver it with the same intensity? And why include slides (PowerPoint or Keynote) if they detract from your speech? This book is complete and takes into account all aspects of a presentation while remaining simple and easy to read. A step-by-step guide.
  • We learn from the best: Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs’ 70,000 videos available on YouTube make the concepts and principles shared that much more tangible. From these videos, you can observe his voice, inflexion, rhythm, slides, and even nonverbal communication.
  • Not everyone is lucky enough to champion products as revolutionary as Steve Jobs’. The author also shares many personal stories and anecdotes from coaching Silicon Valley CEOs to illustrate his points.

Weak point of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs:

  • This is a book solely for entrepreneurs. It is suitable for any persuasive presentation; however, it will take some effort to adapt it for a presentation that serves to inform or is meant only to entertain.

My rating : The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine Gallo The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine Gallo The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine GalloThe Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs By Carmine Gallo

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