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How Steve Jobs used simplicity to make his presentation persuasive

Keeping language simple is more persuasive

jobs-present-cjrApple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak said in a recent interview that Steve Jobs was great at keeping things simple when most people (such as himself) would dive into ‘tech speak’ and TLA’s (three-letter-acronyms).

While we might think using complex words and sentences can help build our credibility, research finds exactly the opposite. It turns out that the simpler the language a presenter uses, the easier the audience find it to comprehend what they are saying and the more they feel comfortable with the presenter and their solution or product.

Steve Jobs was what we at TIA call a ‘high yellow’ thinker.  He was great at standing back and considering what three or four key big picture points the audience would be really interested in rather than blasting all the information at them and hoping that some of it sticks.

We love threes and Steve knew it

People love threes. Think about it – The Holy Trinity, the three musketeers, three blind mice, the three stooges, the list is endless. Steve Jobbs knew this and he simplified a number of his presentations by splitting them into three sections and saying he was going to cover just three things up front.

A great example of this was the launch of the first iPhone where Steve announced, “Today we are introducing three revolutionary products.  A widescreen iPod, a revolutionary phone and the third a break-through Internet communicator”.  Of course he later revealed that they were not three products but one!  The iPhone.  Steve then when through what each ‘product’ did in more detail. Brilliant!

What can you take away and learn from the master?

Next time you have a presentation ask yourself:

    • Could I chunk this into three simple sections?
    • Is there a way to make things easier for my audience by considering what they want to know rather than what I think I should tell them?

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