boston-680403_640The late Steve Jobs was a masterful presenter. And though he was naturally talented and got technology to do some magical things with the wave of his wand, he also practiced over and over and over to get it just right. There have been many articles written over the last decade especially take a peak inside this magician’s tophat. I came up with five “Jobsian” tricks you can adapt to make your next presentation a little better without spending hours and hours in front of a mirror.

1. Record your speech using your smartphone’s voice recorder or video camera
Play it back. Take note of lines that sound mumbled or need emphasis. Go over this and make changes immediately. Visually are you smiling? Are you engaging with the audience?

2. Plan in the analog world
We may exist in the digital world, but prepare in the “old world” of pen and paper. Brainstorm, sketch and draw on whiteboards. Graphic designers who work in PowerPoint rarely open the software program as the first step in creating a presentation. They “storyboard” their presentation before transferring their ideas to a digital format.

3. Introduce an antagonist
In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. The same holds true for your presentation. In 1984, the villain was IBM. Before Jobs introduced the famous “1984” Macintosh ad to a group of Apple salespeople, he created a dramatic story around it. “IBM wants it all,” he declared. Creating a villain allows the audience to rally around the hero–your product or your strategy to take on a challenge.

4. Obey the ’10-minute’ rule
Neuroscientists have found that the brain gets tired after 10 minutes. In other words, no matter how engaging the speaker, audiences will tend to tune out after approximately 10 minutes. If your presentation lasts longer than 10 minutes, break up the content with video, demonstrations or audience participation. Don’t give them time to get bored.

5. Make numbers meaningful
Big numbers should be put into context. If 220 million units have been sold to date, place that number into context by saying it represents “X” percent of the market. Break it down even further — and take a jab at the competition — by saying a competitor is “pulling up the rear” with its lower market share. Large numbers must be placed into a context the audience can understand.

What about You? What are some weaknesses, or strengths, in your speaking abilities? What have you learned or what’s holding you back from improving? Please leave your feedback in the comments section below.