How Steve Jobs prepares for a speech

It looks so easy

If the chief executive of Cadbury-Schweppes speaks at a conference, or Nike's boss introduces a new kind of trainer, you might expect to see it covered in specialist magazines, then quickly forgotten. But on Tuesday a chief executive will stand up and announce something, and within minutes it will be scrutinised across the web and on stockbrokers' computers. It will be in newspapers. They'll talk about it for months.

That chief executive is Steve Jobs, and I know why that speech makes an impact. To a casual observer it is just a guy in a black shirt and jeans talking about some new technology products. But it is in fact an incredibly complex and sophisticated blend of sales pitch, product demonstration and corporate cheerleading, with a dash of religious revival thrown in for good measure. It represents weeks of work, precise orchestration and intense pressure for the scores of people who collectively make up the "man behind the curtain". I know, because I've been there, first as part of the preparation team and later on stage with Steve.

The perfectionist has not gone away

Steve wanted material that looked great, yet was possible for an average person to achieve. So we called on everyone we knew at Apple to submit their best home movies and snapshots. Before long we had an amazing collection of fun, cool and heartwarming videos and photos. My team picked the best and confidently presented them to Steve. True to his reputation as a perfectionist, he hated most of them. We repeated that process several times. At the time I thought he was being unreasonable; but I had to admit that the material we ended up with was much better than what we had begun with.

The Money Quote:

The team and I spent hundreds of hours preparing for a segment that lasted about five minutes.

Overall article from Guardian worth reading.

A lot of work goes into the "casual" presentation

Posted on October 26, 2006 and filed under Technology.