July 9, 2007


“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” --- Steve Jobs
What can we learn about giving great client presentations from Steve Jobs of Apple? BusinessWeek shares five lessons.
  1. Build Tension
  2. Stick To One Theme Per Slide
  3. Add Pizzazz To Your Delivery
  4. Practice
  5. Be Honest and Show Enthusiasm
Yes, consumer products like the iPhone and iPod are different from insurance policies. And we're not Jobs. Let's look at a couple of the lessons in more detail.

One Theme Per Slide
Would you argue this suggestion? Yet this is rarely done. Many times
  • the fonts are too small to read from the back of the room
  • the fonts, colours and graphics don't project well under some lighting conditions
  • there's too much information crammed onto the slide
  • the content is bullet point after bullet point with no visual stimulation
  • there are columns of figures that are too small and it isn't clear what to focus on
Often, the slides have two conflicting goals. They are the speaker notes and the audience's handouts. As your notes, they can have more information than the audience needs to see and not enough for them to use for future reference.

There's a solution for presentations you're likely to repeat
  • use the overlooked PowerPoint presenter view so you see speaker notes and other controls on your screen and the audience sees only the presentation slides
  • design handouts which are different from the slides (useful for other situations too; shows attention to detail which helps set you apart)
Many a presentation lacks passion. Maybe we think this makes us more professional than "salesy"? The delivery is usually competent but not very compelling. If selling is a transfer of enthusiasm, aren't we hurting ourselves by using less energy?



  1. I am glad to see Mr Jobs agrees with me that presentations should not be to busy ;o)

  2. You won't find many people who like busy stuff (much easier to create than to be the victim of).

    But how do present an insurance concept? The norm is many points on a slide and many slides.

    Some presenters don't use PowerPoint at all, preferring to simply talk. Since "talk = cheap", that's not ideal either.

    Some presenters use a whiteboard or flipchart, which can be interesting.

  3. There's also the
    The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 pt font. It's worth a read.