Article Category: Commentary

Steve Jobs: Greatest Presenter of Our Generation

Six Minutes began 4 years ago.

The 10th article on this blog was a speech critique of Steve Jobs delivering the commencement address at Stanford in 2005.

To this day, it’s one of my favorite articles, because Steve Jobs was one of my favorite speakers and that address was one of my favorite speeches.

After publishing the critique, I was often asked whether Steve wrote the address, or whether he had a speechwriter. A common belief at the time was that the speech was so good that it had to be written by a professional speechwriter. So, I emailed him to ask if he was the writer. To my delight, he responded, just 90 minutes later:


I wrote it myself. I am responsible for all of its shortcomings.


On top of crafting such a wonderful speech, he was modest as well.

Steve Jobs was the embodiment of all that speakers should strive to be:

  • His preparation was second to none
  • He told stories passionately
  • He entertained while educating
  • His timing and delivery heightened his impact
  • He was a master of speaking fundamentals

We can all learn much from his speaking example. I encourage you to read these articles:

In the Words of Public Speaking Bloggers

Since his death a month ago, a tidal wave of tributes to Steve Jobs have sploshed around the Internet. He is praised for his vision. He is praised for his entrepreneurial spirit. He is praised for his presentation skills.

Here’s what some of my fellow public speaking bloggers have written about Steve:

Bert Decker — Steve Jobs the Communicator

Above all, he communicated his brilliant concepts to millions of people, brilliantly.

Nancy Duarte — Steve Jobs: The Great Presenter

So, if Ronald Reagan is The Great Communicator and Richard Feynman is The Great Explainer, might Mr. Jobs be The Great Presenter?

Garr Reynolds — Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

He even raised the bar for presentations. He was a true master. He was a true sensei.

Rick Altman — Steve Jobs’ Untapped Potential

He is arguably the greatest public speaker of his generation…

Kathy Reiffenstein — Remembering the Presentation Brilliance of Steve Jobs

Jobs’ ability to captivate an audience, the elegance of his “one big idea”, his passion, his focus on the visual and his rehearsal ethic are all worthy of imitation.

Jan Schultink — Who is Steve?

Seeing his keynote addresses a few yeas ago made me realize that the world could be a better place if I could help people present just a little bit more like Steve.

Scott Schwertly — Steve Jobs: Legacy of a Presenter

Jobs was a super speaker whose storytelling style created emotional experiences for his audiences and his example is one we should all borrow from.

Terry Gault — In Memory of Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was often held up in our workshops as [an] exemplary presenter.

 John Watkis — Steve Jobs: His Words & Works Live On

His work will live on forever. So will his words.

Matt Eventoff — Steve Jobs: Public Speaking, Preparation & Practice

What made Steve Jobs an effective communicator was not innovation or new technology. His public speaking skills had everything to do with fundamentals – an example being one that is crucial yet often ignored – extensive preparation.

Mike Consol — In Memoriam: Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

… he was the greatest presenter in business history.


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Comments icon3 Comments

  1. Hi Andrew,
    Another great article Andrew – I enjoyed the original post as well. Thank you for the mention, and for continuing to produce great content.


  2. Avril says:

    Loved your assesment of the article.
    I read that someone wrote that his message was that If he had not been fired from Apple, his life would not have changed. But I believe his message was that had he not dropped out of Uni, his life would not have changed, because he dropped out of Uni, he went onto Produce Calligraphy for the MAC. before he got fired.
    What’s your take on his message?

  3. In my August post, I described Steve’s power as a speaker as “a prime example of the power that can be achieved when communication meets leadership and creativity.”

    He was also a great example of someone who transcended the ‘rules’ of speaking in favor of getting the job done.

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