Image: Acting in theatre and delivering the end result of your project are not too unalike. Image taken from http://bit.ly/1rTakp7
A great acting coach once told me, “The problem with most young actors is that they act. They don’t do.” What he meant was that the key to a good delivery is simply delivering, focusing on who you are delivering to (usually your scene partner), and not getting caught up in your own self and how you think you look. The same concept can be applied to delivering a project to potential consumers. For many great presenters, such as Steve Jobs, this would mean relentless practice. If the content you were showing off was not second nature to them, they would retreat inward, attempting to think their way out on the spot. One chink like that is all it takes to ruin your delivery entirely. Steve Jobs never exposed himself to such a simple mistake, as people within Apple claim “Jobs rehearses the entire presentation aloud for hours” (Gallo, 2008). This is also just a simple rule of acting: no good actor goes on stage without knowing his lines like the back of his hand well in advance.
Furthermore, to “do” and not “act,” you have to have genuine feeling behind everything. Audiences are great at telling when a presenter is not genuine, even if they don’t consciously realize it. Jobs is a great example of a passionate presenter, “using words like ‘extraordinary,’ ‘amazing,’ and ‘cool'” (Gallo, 2008). While it seems contradictory to rehearse your lines to death yet also maintain genuine passion, those who are truly into their own work generally still end up excited about it after the hundredth rehearsal, and Jobs was clearly no different. Furthermore, having rehearsed your content so much leaves room to inject the presentation with your own personality on the fly, and that’s what really sells. People love listening to people, not presenters, and certainly not bad actors.
A brilliant presenter eloquently makes all the specs and numbers mean something to the audience. A blanket number of 4 million, while high, does nothing for an audience on its own. Steve Jobs, however, would add on to that sales number, saying “That’s 20,000 iPhones a day, on average,” and then go on to display how that number compares to the competitors, driving home Apple’s dominance of the market share (Gallo, 2008). While people have a somewhat innate sense for non-genuine speakers, not everyone is a math whiz, and even fewer are computer whizzes. Thus it only makes sense to connect the dots for your audience.
Image: Steve Jobs, not only a brilliant innovator, but a brilliant speaker and performer. Image taken from http://bit.ly/1FJoyPY
While there is a definite technique to how Steve Jobs made his presentations stand out so much, at the end of the day, there is no substitute for hard work. In the case of Jobs, this meant hours upon hours of “preparation, rehearsal, and criticism” (Rogers, 2009).