There's no question Steve Jobs was extraordinarily good at product introductions. Part of that was simply his raw passion for Apple and its products. In fact, he wasn't an especially gifted orator, but he happened to be such an effective public communicator because he worked really hard and practiced his ability to take his audience on a journey.

As an example, his 2005 Stanford University commencement address is a master class in public speaking-- as good as any TED talk you'll ever see.

Still, the majority of people probably associate him most closely with the keynote presentations at Apple's product introductions. Even today, much of the style and feel of the company's big announcements are a direct reflection of the person who turned product launches into an art form.

If you've ever asked yourself why Jobs was so effective as a public speaker, there are certainly a variety of reasons, but I think there's one that stands out. And the good news is, it's one you can absolutely master as well.

Less is more.

He used as few words as possible. It's true, in public speaking, less is more. Specifically adjectives-- words like, "new," "great," "amazing," or "powerful." It's not that he never used them, but when he did, they had meaning because he was careful not to waste their effect with overuse.

In fact, according to an analysis by IWM, Steve Jobs used even significantly fewer adjectives in his presentations than Apple does today. 

Look, public speaking is hard. In fact, it's often ranked as one of most people's biggest fears. The good news is that it doesn't have to be complicated, or even scary if you know a few best practices.

This is a great example, because it's such an easy mistake to make, especially when you're talking about something you are truly passionate about. It's counterintuitive to talk less about how "incredible," or "revolutionary," or "amazing," your product is. In fact, for many people, that's the only thing they want to talk about.

But when you're introducing a product, your audience probably has a pretty good understanding that the thing you're talking about is new. And if you feel the need to keep repeating how revolutionary your product is, it probably isn't. 

Be intentional with your words.

Also, the fewer words you use-- adjectives or not-- the more intentional you have to be about what you say. That means your message ends up being more concise and to the point, which helps your audience cut through the fluff. The goal isn't just to wow them with your words, but rather to connect with their head and their heart.

I've often thought it was far easier to talk for an hour, than for 10 minutes. That's because if you only have 10 minutes, you have to be far more careful with the words you use-- you only get so many.

And even if you're speaking for longer, you can avoid using too many "fluff" words by writing out your presentation and then practicing, over and over. Which, by the way, is another cornerstone of a Jobs presentation-- rehearsal. 

Fluff words like adjectives often sneak in when we aren't sure what else to say or haven't prepared enough to feel comfortable with our presentation.

They fill the gap for us when we need to buy just enough time to figure out where to go next. They also allow us to say something that sounds good, without really saying anything at all.

Instead, next time, be like Steve Jobs and spend more time practicing fewer words. 

Published on: Aug 7, 2019
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