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Steve Jobs: Use Heroes and Villains in Your Business Presentations

May 8, 2015 / Blog Apple Inc., delivery, presentation storytelling, Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs: Creating an Engaging Presentation

Credited as the most innovative leader in business even after his death, Jobs is still imitated by many of today’s entrepreneurs. The impact of Jobs’ legacy is greatly due to his ability to tell stories that not only inform the audience but also inspires and entertains them.

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According to Help Scout content strategist Gregory Ciotti, substance isn’t paid as much attention unless it’s structured as a story. Going through a thrilling plot alerts certain areas in the brain and lets a person experience the described scenes as if they were really there.

This must be why the technique worked out so much for Jobs, who transformed typical pitches into movie-like plots with heroes, villains, and comic stunners.

Take a look at how he incorporated this technique to his business presentations:

Introduce the Villain

When Macintosh was publicly launched, IBM had already established its position in the computer market. Jobs thought of introducing IBM as the villain to sell the Mac’s benefits.

According to brand specialist Carmine Gallo, this worked because it’s in line with the idea of a story needing heroes in villains. At the same time, it serves as a good trajectory to introduce his product.

“It appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money. IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple,” Jobs said. “Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right?”

Reveal the Conquering Hero

A story isn’t complete without a hero. For his introduction, Jobs positioned Macintosh as an instrument to escape from the villain’s grip.

“You’ve just seen pictures of Macintosh. Now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person. All of the images you are about to see on the large screen are being generated by what’s in that bag.”

Cue the showstopper

Jobs provided genuine showstoppers to create memorable speeches. This one is our favorite:

“Hello, I am Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag. Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I’d like to share with you a maxim I thought of the first time I met an IBM mainframe: Never trust a computer you can’t lift. Obviously, I can talk right now, but I’d like to sit back and listen. So, it is with considerable pride that I introduce a man who has been like a father to me: Steve Jobs.”


Jobs revolutionized the art of corporate storytelling. He brought life to dull and typical discussions by narrating events.

Incorporating stories in your business presentations sets them apart from unmemorable speeches because people remember stories more easily than they do technical details.

A story is the simplest means to get your audience on board with your projects and ideas.

Make it real. Make an impact. Tell a story.

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Ciotti, Gregory. “The Psychology of Storytelling.” Sparring Mind. Accessed May 8, 2015.
Craft Your Corporate Presentations into a Great Story.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 15, 2015.
Gallo, Carmine. “11 Presentation Lessons You Can Still Learn From Steve Jobs.” Forbes. October 4, 2012. Accessed May 8, 2015.
Paul, Annie Murphy. “Your Brain on Fiction.” The New York Times. March 17, 2012. Accessed May 8, 2015.


Featured Image from Business Leaders: Steve Jobs