Doin' It and Doin' It Well

Like all presentation coaches the world over, I am once again ruminating on Steve Jobs’ performance today as he unveiled the much anticipated iPad.  In fact, that sound you just heard was my jaw hitting the ground as I watched the iPad’s eReader demonstrated in Steve’s capable hands.  Full disclosure: I’m in a state of unbridled teenage lust over this product.  In other words, it may interfere with my ability to actually evaluate his delivery.  But here goes.

  • What I loved:
    • Doing his thing. The casual, friendly, buzzword-free, yet-suitably-nerdy delivery combined with show-stopping visuals delivered once again.  Many a CEO aches to have an audience burst into applause for something they’re showing.  Steve Jobs doesn’t have to ask for it.  Putting aside the earthshattering-ness of his products for a moment, Jobs tees up his great “unveiling” moments with such precision, and with the perfect supporting visuals delivered at JUST the right moment, the audience can’t help but burst into gregarious applause.
    • Take a load off. I loved that he sat down in his chair for the demo.  This was probably necessary just given the nature of the device, but in that moment I finally understood why I would use the iPad.  Sitting on the couch, I would grab it to check something online.  Same goes for when he said, “If I want to buy movie tickets, I grab the iPad in the kitchen, and go to Fandango.”  He painted a picture  that looked eerily like my own kitchen, tapping into my own frustration of needing to just “hop online”... knowing how hideously slow my Blackberry’s browser performance is, and that my computer takes forever to fire up again (because I am STILL on a PC. Long story).
    • Killing them softly. Loved the reference to Amazon’s eReader with the statement (paraphrasing here), “Amazon has done a great job with the Kindle... we are standing on their shoulders and going further.” It left me with a pleasant “isn’t that nice!” feeling, even as Jobs was driving Excalibur right into the fleshy heart of the Kindle.
    • Pricing. When I first heard the $499 pricing, it seemed too expensive. I know, I know, I’m cheap like that. But when he couched it in the statement, “the pundits are saying it will cost $999” (again, paraphrasing), and then delivered the $499 pricing (complete with glass shattering sound and visuals), I immediately changed my tune, and thought, “It wouldn't be that bad to camp out in front of the Apple store, would it?”
    • Getting stronger. He was also decidedly more cheerful this go around.  There was a much different energy on stage.  You can tell that Steve Job simply feels better, stronger since the Nano unveiling in September.
  • What I would have liked to see more/less of:
    • It’s hard to criticize Jobs’ delivery.  Many people tease him for the “amazing”s, the “phenomenal”s, but I still like them.  It’s how we talk, and I appreciate that he speaks like a human being.  But if pushed to choose something, I would say this: I could have done with one less website demo, and instead, I would have liked to have seen a demo of what it's like to present in Keynote, or how a Word or Excel document feels on an iPad. I know this device isn’t meant to replace a laptop, but man… if I could take an iPad with me through the security line at an airport, and leave my laptop at home… that would make my heart feel SUPER HAPPY! (for those of you with young children, you will note the Kai Lan reference;).

At the end of the day, when you have products as visually arresting, and as fantastic as Apple’s, the script practically writes itself. But once again, Steve Jobs shows us his mastery of simplicity, restraint, and his keen understanding of what we all want to know, see and feel.