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Presenting Using Figures and Graphs the Steve Jobs’ Way Part 2 of 2

This article is a continuation of Part 1 which was published last week.

In Part 1 we observed how a normal speaker like myself would deliver a PowerPoint presentation involving figures and graphs.

Now let’s observe what the master presenter Steve Jobs did. Consider the following figures and graphs.ipod_sales2In this slide, Steve Jobs emphasized that in Q1 and Q2 2005 sales of iPods produced $6.2M in sales. You can see that there is a difference in the color of the slide which places emphasis on Steve’s message. This technique provides a contrast to the emphasis on graphics and numbers for the audience to better understand the meaning of what we want to convey.

Let’s see what he did next.ipod_sales3On the next slide, he gave a “picture” (figuratively speaking) of how $6M compares with $2M. The horizontal phone reflects a low sales volume ($2M) whereas the vertical phone represents the high sales volume ($6M).

Steve Jobs further emphasized that the $6M was not an ordinary achievement. In fact, it was a remarkable achievement because it proved the other top competitors were not able to produce such high sales. They only achieved sales of $2M during the same period.

That’s how Steve Jobs displayed the numbers and graphs. Other examples can be seen in the videos of his presentation on YouTube.

In closing, let us re-cap some good habits when presenting figures and charts.

1. Presentation of figures and charts should be made more meaningful to the audience by creating figures and graphs that are easily understood by an audience. The graphics do not need to have a lot of numbers and data. Keep it simple.

2. Break your presentation into multiple slides so that the audience can easily capture information step by step.

3. Make your audience understand numbers and graphics with emphasis or “contrast” such as having a with a darker shade of colour, having a different colour, a bold number or a different font size.

4. Do not forget to tell stories and analogies so that your figures become more meaningful. Steve Jobs once said that Apple could achieve a sales of $4M selling iPhones. Did he stop there? No. He went on to add that the sales figure was equivalent to 20,000 units of iPhones per day. With the additional information, the audience were able to easily visualize the sales of $4M.

5. Finally, when it comes to presenting numbers and graphs, we have the tendency to create these graphs without animation. This is what I refer to as the “lazy man’s work.” Animation helps you to explain your case step by step (mouse click by mouse click). Step by step explanation makes it easier for your audience to understand you. Of course, it takes more work and time to create such slides. However, if you aspire to become a master presenter like the late Steve Jobs, you’ll have to work a little harder than the average Joe 🙂

All the best to you in your next presentation.

Presenting Using Figures and Graphs the Steve Jobs Way Part 1 of 2

Today we are going to observe a great speaker presenting using figures and graphs effectively.

You probably know or have heard the name of Steve Jobs. His contribution towards technological progress gained him recognition from around the world before he passed away. Do you also know that he is one of the best presenters in the world? He gained the reputation of being highly skilled in providing complicated information in a simple way.

One amazing presentation skill which I wanted to learn was how he explained figures and graphs in a simple and very easy to understand manner. We sometimes have to show numbers and charts during our presentations. This is where my weakness becomes obvious. The main problem I face is how to display numbers and graphs so that it is easily understood by the audience quickly.

After learning from some writing experts and observing Steve Jobs in action I could finally understand that numbers and charts alone were not able to give meaning to one’s message unless they are compared or associated with other data. For example, when we give a presentation and say that sales are up by 10%, the audience will not be able to understand right away what a increase 10% may look or feel like. Was it 10% better than last year? Is it 10% better than our competitors? Does a 10% increase signify outstanding performance? Well, Steve Jobs was very good at answering these questions so the numbers and graphs were more easily understood.

One thing you need to realize is that not all audiences have the same knowledge. Therefore, your task is to create figures and graphs that are easily understood. Let’s look at the analysis of Garr Reynolds (author of Presentation Zen) of Steve Jobs’ presentation techniques:
Based on the picture above, if you are working in the finance department you should be familiar and able to read and understand the meaning of those graphs and numbers.

The graph illustrates the iPod sales from 2004 to Q2 of 2005.

At first, the sales of iPods increased gradually and exceeded $5M in Q3 of 2004. Sales continued to rise to $10M in Q4. It rose again in Q1 of 2005 to $15M and hit $21.2M in Q2 of 2005.

If I were to do a presentation, I would stop there and attempt to explain the graph using my own words. This is much easier (for me) than struggling with the various animation functions of PowerPoint. However, for Steve Jobs stopping at this stage would certainly be out of the question.

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Look out for Part 2 of this article next week and I’ll share what he did next to polish his presentation..