Book Category: Creative, Motivational, Presentations,

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience (book summary)

Author: Carmine Gallo
Life Changing Principles
Quality of Writing
Overall Value
pros: Not too gushy about the main subject, clear and motivational
cons: Hard to always apply
overall rating


Carmine Gallo has spent a lot of time obsessing over Steve Jobs’ presenting skills, particularly his Apple product announcements. The fruit of his obsessing is a distilled formula to Jobs’ greatness…not surprisingly, all of which is aligned with Ethos3 philosophy. Three key points, the use of a villain and hero, and minimal content on-slide are all core tactics mentioned.

This is a strong introductory book for anyone diving into the presentation world. It’s a great overview of ability with solid real-world examples pulled from Jobs’ work. It also doesn’t feel overly gushy or in love with the man himself, and works hard to use his own ability as actionable advice for the reader. 


  • Effortless presenting takes an obscene amount of work.
  • There is a villain in every single one of Steve Jobs’ presentations.
  • Casual language is what the people want!
  • Don’t be afraid to be a ham and add performance into a presentation.


  • Create more ways to include the villain/hero narrative, even if it’s subtle, in existing presentation content.
  • Continue to reinforce that minimal content is best suited for long term memory.
  • Use more casual/excited verbiage throughout on-slide content, like “awesome.”


A Steve Jobs presentation is intended to create an experience, “a reality distortion field,” that leaves his audience awed, inspired, and wildly excited.

Only a handful of leaders whom I have had the pleasure of meeting have this skill, the ability to turn seemingly boring items into exciting brand stories.

Throughout this book, ask yourself “What am I really selling?” Remember, your widget doesn’t inspire. Show me how your widget improves my life, and you’ve won me over. Do it in a way that entertains me, and you’ll have created a true evangelist.

His presentations are theatrical events intended to generate maximum publicity, buzz, and awe. They contain all of the elements of great plays or movies: conflict, resolution, villains, and heroes.

What is the one big idea you want to leave with your audience? It should be short (140 characters or less), memorable, and written in the subject-verb-object sequence. When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, he exclaimed, “Today Apple reinvents the phone!”

Keep in mind that the average viewed clip on YouTube is 2.5 minutes.

Your audience wants to be informed, educated, and entertained: informed about your product, educated on how it works, and entertained while learning about it. Above all, people want to know the answer to one question: Why should I care?

If you pay close attention to jobs, you will see that he doesn’t “sell” products; he sells the dream of a better future.

Problem + Solution = Classic Jobs

What people care about is solving problems and making their lives a little better.

In his book Buyology, marketing guru Martin Lindstrom equates Apple’s message with the same powerful ideas that propel widespread religions. Both appeal to a common vision and a specific enemy.

Spend some time describing the problem in detail. Make it tangible. Build the pain.

The hero’s mission in a Steve Jobs presentation is not necessarily to slay the bad guy, but to make our lives better.

“Text and oral presentations are not just less efficient than pictures for retaining certain types of information; they are way less efficient. If information is presented orally, people remember about 10 percent, tested seventy-two hours after exposure. That figure goes up to 65 percent if you add a picture.” – John Medina

Rarely do numbers resonate with people until those numbers are placed in a context that people can understand, and the best way to help them understand is to make those numbers relevant to something with which they are already familiar. Five gigabytes may mean nothing to you, but one thousand songs in your pocket opens up an entirely new way for you to enjoy music.

Your listeners should not need to review notes, slides, or transcripts of the presentation to recall the “one thing.”

Plan a “holy shit” moment. It need not be a breakthrough announcement. Something as simple as telling a personal story, revealing some new and unexpected information, or delivering a demonstration can help create a memorable moment for your audience.