Good Role Models: Steve Jobs’ iPad 2 Announcement

Next time you’re planning a presentation, ask yourself this question.  How can I get my audience excited about the ideas I’m “selling”?

Holding up Steve Jobs as an example of stellar presentation skills isn’t exactly an original idea.  But watching the iPad 2 announcement I was struck by how much emotional content was included in his presentation.  This is pretty typical of Apple and a key to its enormous success in selling us stuff.  After all, we want all those gadgets because they’re cool and can do amazing things, not because they have a faster processor.  But Apple is pretty unusual in this respect; most other technology companies seem unwilling or unable to build an emotional connection between their products and the people who might buy them.

Just think about it.  How many other CEOs could earn a standing ovation just by appearing on stage?  But to me the most amazing thing about the presentation yesterday was how Apple chose to introduce the iPad itself.  They didn’t start by talking about its new features or improved specs.

Instead they played a video that showed people in locations all over the world– some of them glamorous, some mundane–  enjoying their iPads.  They showed kids in Chicago using their iPads to improve their learning, doctors using iPads to save lives, and autistic children communicating better because of them.  The main message of the video is that the iPad is changing peoples’ lives.  Who doesn’t want that?  Rather than focusing on the technology, the whole piece was about the emotional appeal of the device.  This is pretty typical of Apple, but what other company could pull it off?

You probably don’t have the resources to create such an attractive, globe-trotting video, but your presentations can still benefit from making an emotional appeal to your audience.  It will make your talks more immediately engaging, more memorable, and help you build a relationship with your audience that will last longer than your presentation itself.  Sure Apple makes great gadgets, but the rabid following it inspires is more a product of the way they appeal to our desires, our aspirations and our self-image than it is of what we actually need.

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