Today the iPhone celebrates its 10th anniversary as one of the best-selling products of all time. As a communication specialist, I mark the event for a slightly different reason. The launch of the iPhone was accompanied by one of the best business presentations in corporate history.
Here are five techniques that Steve Jobs used to make the iPhone launch magical and memorable, tips that you can use in your very next pitch or presentation.
1. The Setup
A good story--and nearly every successful Hollywood movie--follows the three-act structure: setup, conflict, and resolution. The setup is key. It introduces the characters and provides the background to move the action forward.
In the 2007 iPhone presentation, Jobs built up the narrative before he even mentioned a new product.
"This is a day I've been looking forward to for two and a half years," Jobs began.
"Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything ... Apple has been very fortunate. It's been able to introduce a few of these into the world. In 1984, we introduced the Macintosh. It didn't just change Apple; it changed the whole computer industry. In 2001, we introduced the first iPod. It didn't just change the way we all listen to music; it changed the entire music industry. Well, today, we are introducing three revolutionary products of this class."
The setup does not have to take long. Jobs delivered the previous paragraph in less than two minutes.
2. The Surprise
The brain loves novelty. It gets bored easily and craves something surprising and new. Jobs was famous for adding "one more thing" at the end of his keynotes. That was his version of the twist you expect to find in a movie. In the 2007 iPhone presentation, he put the twist at the beginning.
The following excerpt is the most viewed--and the most memorable--part of the iPhone presentation:
"Today, we're introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an internet communicator. An iPod, a phone--are you getting it? These are not three separate devices. This is one device, and we are calling it ... iPhone."
3. The Headline
Jobs never introduced a product without a short, simple summary that described the product in one sentence. Consider it the headline that anchors the story, the catchy title that makes you want to read or hear more.
"Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone," Jobs proclaimed. That's the headline. It's easy to spot the headline, because it's the line repeated five times throughout the presentation. It's also the headline to Apple's press release on the day of the launch.
4. The Villain
Every great story has a villain or a conflict in need of a resolution. In the 2007 iPhone keynote, Jobs showed several competing smartphones and pointed out their weaknesses. "The problem is that they're not so smart and they're not so easy to use. What we want to do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been, and super easy to use," Jobs said.
As he described the problems of his competitors at the time, even the words he used positioned them as villains in the narrative, calling existing smartphones "the usual suspects."
Your customer doesn't care about a product or an idea unless it solves a real world problem. Jobs never introduced a new product without first describing the conflict--the problem he set out to solve.
5. The Humor
It's easy to forget how funny Jobs could be onstage. He elicited a laugh from the audience 51 times. During the demo of the Maps feature, Jobs placed a crank call to a Starbucks location, ordering 4,000 lattes before hanging up. Later, his presentation remote stopped working. As it was being fixed, Jobs told a story about the day he and Steve Wozniak created a "TV jammer" and played a prank on Woz's dorm buddies.
The original iPhone presentation had all the elements of a great story: heroes and villains, twists and turns, and humorous sidebars. Delivering great presentations will help you build a company, sell more products, and inspire your teams. Use the iPhone keynote as a guide.