A Tough Act to Follow

Today’s post comes from Jesse Langley. Jesse lives near Chicago and divides his time among work, writing and family life. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University and has a keen interest in blogging and social media. He also writes for The Professional Intern. 


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you are likely aware of at least some of the buzz about Steve Jobs. And there’s still a lot of residual buzz even though Jobs is no longer the head of Apple. He has been replaced by Tim Cook, and on 4 October 2011, the world will get its first sense of the CEO when Apple launches the iPhone 5.

Tim Cook – The New Face of Apple

The release of the newest incarnation of the iconic iPhone will be a real testing ground for Mr. Cook. There is a lot more to running a major corporation than public speaking, but it’s one of the things that Steve Jobs does better than almost anyone else among his peers. When Steve Jobs speaks, people listen. The man can capture a room just by entering and we hang on his every word. His public speaking skills are legendary and it’s part of why he’s revered.

Even the people who disagree with the way Jobs ran Apple give him grudging respect for the manner in which he has leveraged his public speaking ability to gain maximum exposure for Apple products. The man can soften the animosity of even his most ardent critics. His speech to college graduates at Stanford University highlights his ability to get his audience in the palm of his hand and keep them riveted until he’s done.

The genius of Steve Jobs

The real genius in Steve Jobs’ public speaking ability isn’t mere eloquence. Consider the actual content of his speeches. Most of them deal with highly technical matters. But Jobs can take those topics and deliver them in a way that draws us in and leaves us wanting more when he’s finished. He possesses the rare ability to speak simply about complicated concepts. We often celebrate eloquence for the sake of eloquence but forget that the real goal is to effectively communicate ideas and convey concepts to the audience.

Steve Jobs used his public speaking ability as a vehicle to propel the Apple brand to prominence through the sheer force of his personality. Having a brand tied so closely to one person can be risky; however, Jobs pulled it off incredibly well. He used his speeches to present an appealing and unified image for Apple. When he took the platform to promote a new Apple product, he moved Apple’s stock price and increased the value of the brand.

Apple keynote speeches are among the most anticipated video streams. Such anticipation doesn’t happen by accident. Whether the huge, Steve Jobs-fueled success that Apple has enjoyed will continue under the direction of Tim Cook remains to be seen. Apple has great products, but whether Cook will inspire us to run to the Apple store to buy them remains to be seen.

Steve Jobs is a tough act to follow. Is Tim Cook up to the task? On 4 October 2011, the world will be watching.

Photo courtesy of Valery Marchive (LeMagIT)

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International