Steve Jobs Helps You Overcome Presentation Glitches

Last Updated Jun 24, 2010 12:06 AM EDT

Steve Jobs is a skilled and charismatic public speaker. (Some would argue that's what he does best.) You can see it every time he rolls out a new Apple product, such as at the recent iPhone 4 rollout. There, he had some technical glitches which could have brought the whole presentation crashing to the floor - but the Apple CEO's presentation skills won the day, and it was hard to tell anything had gone wrong.

CIO Magazine deconstructed the Steve Jobs approach to public speaking so you can apply his lessons to your own presentations.


CIO focused on the iPhone rollout, in which Steve found networking issues were interfering with his ability to demonstrate the new iPhone. He responded by asking people to turn off their Wi-Fi devices to free up bandwidth, joked with the audience, and reverted to a backup plan - he jumped around in his presentation slides to discuss a different topic while waiting for the technical issues to short themselves out. Here are the lessons from that day:

Have a backup plan. When you're delivering a presentation to a large group, anything can go wrong - the projector can fail, PowerPoint can crash, the network can go down. Know this, and have backups for all the most likely (or most catastrophic) problems. Be able to project from someone else's laptop, for example. Have the files you need locally, to reduce our dependence on the Internet. And know your own slide deck well enough that you can change your approach on the fly if needed.

You don't have to be flawless. Stuff happens. But if you can have a sense of humor about it, and be able to move things along without freezing up like Lt Gorman in Aliens, you're already better than 75% of the presenters out there. Important thing to remember: Most audiences will easily forgive glitches as long as you recover professionally.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Likewise, remember that everything doesn't have to go perfectly, and don't expect everything to. In particular, don't even call attention to minor problems - it's okay if there's a little dead air while you gather your wits and move on. [via MacWorld]