How to Design a Presentation like Apple

Apple logo

Emily Stewart recently brought my attention to a short animated video that she and her team produced for OnlineMBA that illustrates some of the key values that Steve Jobs and his team espoused when designing products for Apple.

The video is clever and is similar in style to the popular animated videos by RSA Animate. It is a creative way in which to enhance a presentation with images.

Episode 16 – How to Design Like Apple from Minute MBA by on Vimeo.

As I watched the video, it occurred to me that many of the principles that Jobs and his colleagues at Apple have embraced when designing their products hold true for a well-designed presentation.

“The quality has to be carried all the way through. … High quality design is all-encompassing.”

A good presentation, like an advertisement from Apple, has a clear message, a strong opening, compelling content, an appropriate balance between logic and emotion, good supporting material and a strong conclusion. And it all fits together tightly. Remove even one of these elements and you will end up with weaker product.

“[You] must truly understand what the product is, how it works and how it will benefit customers or society …”

For every presentation that you give, you must be able to answer these two questions: (a) What is my key message? (b) Why should the audience care? The answers must be absolutely clear if you hope to deliver a presentation that is in any way meaningful for your audience.

“Good design is produced by people who are motivated by failures and optimistic about change.”

Not every presentation goes as planned. Do you learn from such experiences? Do you seek feedback and act on the feedback that you receive? If you present frequently on the same subject, do you regularly update and refine your presentation? Are you always looking for ways in which to improve?

“One of Steve Jobs‘ most well-known mantras was ‘Focus and Simplicity’. … It’s harder to design something that is simply beautiful than it is to just stuff a product that is full of bells and whistles.”

So many presentations fall short of the mark because the presenter tries to cover too many points and crams every slide with too much text. A good presenter is like a sculptor; she works to remove everything that is unnecessary and extraneous to the key message. A good presenter focuses with laser-like intensity on her key message. Everything in the presentation supports the key message in some way. A good presenter keeps things simple. Simple is good. It is memorable and it works.

“Product design isn’t meant to stick out like a sore thumb, but rather seamlessly integrate with a high quality product that people come to recognize as an extension of themselves.”

If a presentation is well planned, well structured and well delivered, people might remember certain parts of it; however, and more importantly, they will remember the key message and why it is important for them. And they will act on it.

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  1. Hi John,
    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. And I guess, I need to make it more frequent! 😉
    Awesome post!
    – Akash
    authorSTREAM Team

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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