Whether leading a small team or speaking at a networking or business event the way you deliver your presentation can make or break people’s perception of your leadership abilities.
Steve Jobs is perhaps the best example of a contemporary leader whose presentation skills are worth exemplifying. Unsurprisingly, Jobs took a lot of time in preparing his presentations. This paid off in the tactical way that he was able to communicate messages that were in turn highly shareable and memorable.
Not so surprising either is the fact that Ashton Kutcher, who famously played Steve Jobs in the movie JOBS espoused Jobs’ prowess in delivering a presentation that would not only hit home but would also get people talking for a long time.
Here’s how Kutcher’s speech during the past Nickelodeons Teen Awards was a lot like the archetypal Jobs presentation and what you can learn from it:
A major reason why Kutcher’s speech received a lot of mention and engagement across social media was its simple and straightforward structure. His speech focused on three primary elements: living life, how to be sexy and the value of hard work.
The three-point structure is effective as a presentation skill because it keeps your audience focused on the most important aspects of the presentation. By going beyond three points, you risk losing the audience at best and diluting the message at worse.
If the three points are the outer shell of a presentation, then stories are the meat or the core of it. Kutcher, used stories in his Nickelodeon speech and so did Jobs in all his presentations. Stories could be personal, or they could be brand stories depending on the context of the presentation.
What is really important is that you tailor your stories to the idiosyncrasies of your audience and in such a way that each story serves to support the overall message in the presentation.
Kutcher talked about his life when he was a teenager to pass across the message of hard work and leveraging opportunity. His story of working odd, repetitious jobs resonated clearly with the teenage audience that he was speaking too. It is very likely that the audience remembered not just the story but the moral or lesson behind the story.
When it comes to preparing and making presentations, a major misconception is that it needs to be complex for the message to be passed across. Lets’ face it: Few people look forward to presentations. The best way to get people to engage and focus on what you have to say is to simplify your message as much as possible.
With all his knowledge and intense passion for his products, one would expect Jobs’ presentations to be highly complicated and lengthy. But his slides would typically feature just three words and the rest of his presentation would be purely his own words. This made his presentations less academic and more authentic.
Kutcher adopted a similar style in his acceptance speech. While the underlying message was incredibly profound, he used easy to understand language, and highly relatable and short anecdotes that the average teenager could understand. His use of words such as ‘crap’ and ‘sexy’ are genuine and resonated very well with his young audience.
“So build a life, don’t live one, find your opportunities and always be sexy.” Those were the closing remarks in Kutcher’s speech. Although it was a one-sentence ending, it recapped everything that he had spoken about and it helped to reinforce the core of his speech.
Steve Jobs was also fond of utilizing repetition and iteration to make the audience understand and remember a particular important message in his presentation.
The key to using repetition in your presentation is to be strategic about it. For example, once you finish illustrating your first point, you could recap with a sentence that summarizes and repeats what you just illustrated. The same applies to the remaining three points and in your concluding remarks.
It goes without saying that your ability to communicate and convince your audience is an indispensible leadership skill. While you do not have to be well-known like Kutcher or Jobs to be able to deliver a riveting message, you do have to put in a lot of preparation and creativity to make your presentations epic.
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