How to Structure Your Webcast Like Steve Jobs

How to Structure Your Webcast Like Steve Jobs

Many have tried, and failed, to emulate Steve Jobs’ signature presentation style. Why do they miss the mark?

Contrary to popular belief, the magic of Jobs’ magnetic keynotes didn’t lie in his specific imagery or even his speaking cadence. It was really all about the structure of his presentation — his blueprints and roadmaps. We’ve studied Jobs’ webcasts in-depth to tease out this information. Here are our takeaways.

Start with a big number to immediately get your audience’s attention.

Pick any one of Steve Jobs’ keynote videos. Within the first three minutes, you’ll see a big, impressive number on the screen.

For example:

  • 250,000,000 iPods sold in nine years
  • 5,000,000 copies of Mac OS Leopard delivered in the first 90 days
  • 5,200 engineers at the Worldwide Developers Conference

The trick is that it doesn’t really matter what big number you choose — what matters is the big number itself. Starting with a big number helped add a sense of gravity, scale, and importance to Jobs’ keynotes. It drew people in from the very beginning.

Tell them what you’re going to show them, and then follow through with it.

Steve Jobs would always “tee up” his points. This was the #1 most crucial component of his webcast structure: everything was preceded by a setup, always.

Jobs had two main ways of doing this:

1. Numbered lists

“I’m going to tell you about four things,” Jobs would say. Then, he’d put a giant number “1” on the screen and say, “The first thing is…”

When it came time for the next point, Jobs would put a giant number “2” on the screen and say, “Now, the second thing is…”

Numbered lists are an amazingly simple way to keep people engaged and attentive. Don’t be afraid to use them overtly, just like Steve Jobs.

2. Tease, then reveal

When Jobs was revealing the iPad, he put three columns onto the screen. In the right-hand column was a MacBook. In the left-hand column was an iPhone. The middle column was blank.

Jobs then teased the audience, describing the unnamed iPad as a mysterious “third category of device” that would fall between the two. This built-up anticipation perfectly. When he finally revealed the iPad, he didn’t have to tell them what it was — he’d already told them.

That’s a perfect example of telling them what you’re going to show them, and then showing them.

Tell stories using the words “I” and “you.”

How did Jobs get that very “human” feel in keynotes demonstrating technology? He did that by telling stories. The stories were always about “you” or “me.”

“Here’s all my albums,” Jobs said while demonstrating the iTunes music library. “When I see something I like, I just tap on it and say, yeah, let’s play a song.”

Jobs could have talked about the iPad using the word “it,” saying something like, “It will store all your albums like this, and it will play a song when you tap on it.” But he didn’t do that. He always put a person, either himself or “you,” at the center of the presentation. The technology was secondary to the person.

Taking this storytelling approach may require a few more minutes of streaming time, but it makes a huge difference in the impression you make as a speaker.

We hope you enjoyed these tips on building a webcast like Steve Jobs. Learn about our CEO-ready webcast platform here.

About Sonya T.

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