Now, here’s a chance to steal from Apple — legally.
Personally, I’m not really all that interested as a consumer in what Apple is selling these days. I have what I need, for the moment.
However, I’m very interested in how they’re selling — which leads me to the virtual “special event” Apple announced recently, where it will likely roll out new, updated versions of the Apple Watch and iPad.
Apple has proven time and again that it’s a master at making pitches and unveiling products. And, as we enter the seventh month of largely remote work for many of us, it’s a great opportunity to watch what Apple does, and — as Jobs himself would have recommended — steal the best components.
In other words, the next time you have to give a virtual presentation? I hope you can steal one or two little tricks from Apple, and use them to improve your experience.
Look, you don’t have to watch the whole thing. (That’s what you have people like me for.) But here are a few things I’d have an eye out for, that might inspire answers to some of your questions.
What is the default view?
This is going to be a super-polished, high-quality video event, we can be sure. And perhaps if the remote work presentations you’re doing now are from a spare bedroom in your house, you don’t really have all the same options.
Still, I’d pay attention to what’s most effective during the unveilings: Full face closeups? Seated shots of someone sitting at a laptop? Full body views of speakers on a stage?
Apple has had a lot of experience with these presenations — including at the WWDC conference in June. What have they learned about these basic questions, when almost all the audience is virtual? What can you learn from them? What should you copy?
How do they use graphics and video?
Not all that long ago, my colleague Carmine Gallo offered that he thinks the original presentation that Jobs did to unveil the iPhone in 2007 is the best of all time.
A lot of this idea is based on the way that Jobs turned the unveiling into a story, more than just a product intro. But go back to it, and you’ll see some things that were a bit groundbreaking — including the fact that most of the slides Jobs used were just a single word, icon, or phrase.
So in this virtual world, where the entire audience is watching via a screen: how much of the view Apple presents during the event will be of the speakers, and how much is of graphics, videos, and other visual tools?
How long does each speaker go?
I’m assuming without knowing that there will be more than one presenter — not just Tim Cook. But who knows? The thing I’m really interested to see is how long each presenter has the mic, so to speak.
(For what it’s worth, WWDC ran about 1 hour 45 minutes in total. But they had a lot to unveil that day.)
Not that Jobs’s speeches a decade and a half ago are the final word, but if you go back to his 2005 speech at Stanford University, which I think is one of the best public speaking examples in modern history, his entire, highly memorable speech lasted just 15 minutes.
Less is more. And my sense is that when you’re presenting virtually, even less is even more.
How do they make up for audience reaction?
I think, although I’m not sure, that this will be an audience-less presentation. Obviously, it’s not going to be in a big auditorium with hundreds of people.
But, while I’ve seen some very good virtual presentations recently, I’ve yet to see one where a speaker really was able to make up for the lack of an audience. It’s just so hard to get that kind of energy, and social proof (laughter, applause, etc.) without people in the room.
(Think about it: Why are some comedians very funny when you see them in front of an audience, but you know they’d fall flat if they just told the same jokes in a studio?)
Anyway, there can be ways around this. Maybe you have a small audience, maybe you use background noise, maybe you simply acknowledge the elephant in the room, and if appropriate even make up some kind of self-referential audience noise yourself.
But, I’ll be interested to see what Apple comes up with. And then, I’ll probably steal it for my next presentation.