I had never seen Steve Jobs talk before; but after he died, I heard lots of people rave about the way he spoke in public. It seemed like many people thought he was the epitome of a great speaker.
Then I began reading his biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Before even finishing a quarter of the book, I realized that his style would have come naturally from who he was and the passions that he followed. Intuitively, I guessed that his style would have aligned with what and how I teach public speaking. Steve would not have followed an old style speech formula because he did everything from his inner guidance. He was a student of meditation and Zen. He followed systems that lead to self-awareness, palpable presence and being in the moment. He studied with Shunryu Suzuki who wrote Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind one of my favorite books. Steve also followed his heart and trusted where that would lead him. He learned to use his spiritual energy to magnetize and hold people’s attention. He was a force of nature and used his intensity to persuade others to do what he wanted.
His biography was so compelling that I decided to view some of his speeches to see for myself what all the raving was all about. I had an inkling that my Zimmer Method Speaking from the Heart program might be exactly what is needed to help others learn to speak like Steve. So, I watched and was excited to see that Steve’s style was exactly what I teach and what my clients learn to do! I reviewed two Steve jobs talks that exemplify his authentic style – The iPad Keynote from January 27, 2110 and his 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. If you are interested, watch these two videos and you will see what I am about to illuminate about Steve’s style. I am providing links so that you can go right to the YouTube videos of each talk.
Steve starts by clearing out his worst fear that people will judge him for never having graduated college. He uses an impact statement of self-revelation that is at once vulnerable and delightfully humorous, “Truth be told, I never graduated from college. This is the closest thing I have ever gotten to a college graduation.” If you want to be an authentic speaker, you have to stand “naked” and share your real, right now fears. That frees you, as it did Steve, from tension and actually endears you to your listeners. Then, he shares his stories. “I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal, just three stories.” Steve delivers a talk that inspires because it simply tells three authentic stories from his life that he knows will speak to his listeners, the 2005 graduates of Stanford University. No cover-up, no making himself look perfect, just his naked stories and what he learned from his experiences. So simple, so pure, so real, so Steve.
I believe in a little structure and a lot of flow when speaking to groups. Structure should be simple and easy to remember. Story, Lesson and Point. Watch this video of the Stanford commencement address and see how beautifully he weaves story with lesson and point to inspire not only his graduating audience but also the millions who have watched this talk on YouTube. See how it all makes a simple point to “Find what you love. Follow your heart!” Today as I watch this video while writing this article, I see a comment from one month ago by someone who wrote with tears in his eyes that he was inspired to follow his heart because of this video.