The lights in the Steve Jobs theater on Apple's campus went dark during Monday's introduction about the new Apple TV Plus. When they came up, Steven Spielberg was standing on stage. He had been invited to introduce a new show that his company is producing exclusively for the Apple service. 

The lights went dark again. When they came back on, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston were on stage talking about their new project, The Morning Show, a behind-the-scenes show about morning television. But wait. Who's that lurking in the shadows off to the side? It's Steve Carell, wandering on stage and asking if it's his time yet. 

And so it went again and again. Lights off. Lights on. Another celebrity. Finally, Oprah Winfrey was the last celebrity to take the stage, introducing her documentaries for Apple TV Plus.

Steve Jobs was full of surprises.

Surprise has always been a key element of Apple's presentations, beginning in 1984 when Steve Jobs drew the audience's attention to the center of a darkened stage. A black canvas bag sat on a table. Jobs walked to the table and, like a magician, pulled out the first Macintosh.

Jobs loved the idea of a magician surprising the audience by pulling something out of unexpected places: a MacBook Air from a manila envelope or an iPod from a pocket. Jobs intuitively understood what neuroscientists are now discovering: If you want to keep your audience's attention, break a pattern.

Most of us get bored watching a lengthy business presentation because there are no surprises--just slide after slide that look nearly identical. They fall into a predictable pattern.

I was tracking comments on Twitter during the Apple TV presentation. More than a few people suggested they had to leave at various points--one had to use the restroom--and yet they kept watching to see who would appear next.

People remember 'delightful surprises.'

Scientists and marketing professionals in the hospitality industy are studying "peak moments." It seems as though people don't remember every aspect of a trip, a visit to a restaurant or a hotel stay. They do, however, remember moments that stand out. And moments that stand out are often suprising or unexpected.

In the book, The Power of Moments, research from Trip Advisor finds that when a guest experiences a 'delightful surprise,' they are far more likely to recommend the property than people whose experience simply met their expectations.

I recall visiting a five-star luxury hotel with my family in San Diego. My wife and I enjoyed a delicious dinner one evening during that trip, but I can't remember what food we ate or wine we drank. I do, however, remember what happened at the end of the meal: the restaurant was considerably far from the main hotel. If we had to walk, we wouldn't make it back to our hotel before the kids club closed.

"It's no problem," said the head waiter. "We called up a car. It's waiting for you outside. You'll be back in plenty of time." I later learned that the hotel staff is trained to "surprise and delight" its guests with unexpected touches. 

One more thing...

In hospitality, these are called "flagship moments." In my book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I called such events "wow moments."

Jobs was fond of his signature phrase "One more thing" precisely because it surprised and delighted his audience. It broke from the expected script.

In 1999, Steve Jobs had One More Thing to add at the end of his presentation: the new color iMacs. In 2000, he stunned the business world with One More Thing: He'd be returning as Apple's CEO. In 2006, One More Thing turned out be to the original Apple TV. 

Apple executives don't say "one more thing" anymore, but CEO Tim Cook did the next best thing: He brought out 12 unexpected guests that kept the audience surprised and delighted.

In a presentation, give your audience one more thing that's surprising and unexpected. Anything unusual or unexpected will suprise them, delight them, and give them something to share.

Published on: Mar 25, 2019
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