This week saw the sad passing away of one of the most charismatic, visionary CEOs of all time. Much has been written about Steve Jobs and much is sure to come in the light of his passing away. Most notable might be his latest biography: Steve Jobs: A biography that is released on 24th October this year. Yesterday, advanced sales of this book on Amazon went up 4800%!

This blog post is not in remembrance of Steve Jobs but a pointer based upon lessons that I have learnt through reading books on Steve Jobs’s presentation style, as well as watching his presentations in practice and from my training and other information that I have read. Simply put: this is how to make a good presentation even better. All of us ‘present’ in some capacity: on some ‘stage’. When we talk to someone we are presenting. This post will help you do it even better.

In this post I am going to refer to three things that you can do to make your good presentation even better. They are:

  1. Use the power of three

  2. KIS

  3. Remember your body language

1. Use the power of three
As you can see here, that’s what I’m doing with the fact that I have three points to make. It’s amazing the power of three has on us. You’ll see and hear it in so many places, now that I’ve drawn your attention to it! Over the next week make a mental or actual note of the several times you see or hear the power of three being used. Listen to arguments, look posters and read advertisements. Take note of how you are affected.

There is something about the rhythm of point-point-point or fact-fact-fact that naturally resonates with us. My mum taught me to arrange objects in displays in threes (or occasionally in fives if it’s visually more impacting!). A three-leaf clover just looks right (it’s nice to find a four-leaf clover though!), an equilateral triangle is a balanced on all sides and a strong image and for me: the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is immensely powerful. There, I’ve used three again!

The power of three seems to connect with us and we more readily hear the message being sent. Simply put: we hear three; we’re lost with four or more.

If you want to be more readily heard: use the power of three.

2. KIS
Keep it simple. It’s amazing how many times we have a simple message and make it complicated. We know that making it more complicated will make it more difficult to understand so we do it anyway and wonder how it is that people then don’t understand us!

What is the number one point that you want to put across? Can you express that point in ten words or fewer? If you can you have the best chance of getting your point across.

Are you presenting using software? That’s fine but remember you are presenting not the software. Reduce the number of slides to a minimum, use pictures wherever you can and keep text to a minimum.

Are you arguing your case or standing your ground? Know what you’re standing for in ten words or fewer, practise it and keep to the point.

If you want to be more readily heard: KIS

3. Remember your body language
The first two points are techniques that you can easily use and they will make a huge difference to presentation. The last point might be more challenging and I can help you if you contact me. You will communicate a great deal with your tone of voice and body language. Humans are very good at picking up the body language that we communicate even if we don’t fully understand how that happens. Practise, Practise, Practise! Few people can walk onto a ‘stage’ (didn’t Shakespeare write that ‘all the world’s s stage’?) and present. Steve Jobs practises his presentations for hours. It wasn’t just his words though that he worked on. He used his eyes, his hands and his tone of voice. I watched Tim Cook’s (CEO of Apple) speech at the launch of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S. He did well; very well. One thing in particular would have made it even better. Often his sentences finished with him looking down and not at his audience. Eye contact (as well as hand gesture and tone of voice) is vital to consolidate your point.

If you want to be more readily heard: remember your body language

There is too much to explore in the realms of body language for this post. I have helped at least one person that I know of to successfully get a job by helping them to use body language to their advantage and to have a positive self-esteem. Are you looking for a different job or a job in the first place? Read through the points made above once more and find ways to incorporate them in preparing for your interview. Contact me if you want help with developing your body language as well as self-esteem. You’d be amazed what can be done in just one or two sessions!

Research or articles that highlights the power of three in a variety of scenarios:

Wiley, J., Cushen, P., Jarosz, A. & Jensen, M. S. (2008). The power of three in collaborative problem solving.  Poster presented at the Purdue Winer Memorial Lectures New Perspectives on Human Problem Solving Workshop, West Lafayette, IN

Wiley, J., Jarosz, A, Cushen, P., Jensen, M. & Griffin, T. D. (2009) The Power of Three: Why the Third Person Matters. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society

Wiley, J. (2009, February). The power of three: Effects of collaboration on learning and problem solving.  Colloquium presented at University of Freiburg, Germany