Apple CEO Tim Cook brought back Steve Jobs's signature phrase, “One more thing,” when he recently introduced the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. One thing that hasn’t changed since Jobs delivered Apple keynotes is the stunningly simple and visual design template that Apple executives use when giving presentations.
Jobs used more pictures than words. Today’s Apple executives do the same.
Using pictures on slides instead of words is called “picture superiority” in neuroscience literature. It means that pictures are more easily remembered than text. If you deliver information verbally, your audience will remember about 10 percent of the content. Add a picture and retention soars to 65 percent.
When I was conducting the research for one of my books, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, I learned that the average presentation slide contained 40 words. I’m sure this statistic doesn’t surprise you if you’ve had to sit through insufferably long and text-heavy presentations.
After reading that statistic I began to notice that all great presenters didn’t reach 40 words until about 10 slides into their presentations. This held true whether the speakers were using Microsoft PowerPoint or, as Jobs did, Apple Keynote. So I came up with the “10-40 Rule” to help people create more visually engaging presentations.
The 10-40 rule simply means that the first 10 slides of a presentation should contain no more than 40 words. It forces the presenter to focus on the story and to complement the story with pictures, images, or video.
Here’s how the 10-40 rule applied to the Sept. 9 iPhone 6 presentation. The following is a description of Cook’s first 10 slides, what they showed (text, photos or video) and what he said.
1. (Photo of Flint Center in Cupertino, California) “It is great to be back in the Flint Center. We’ve had some amazing history here.”
2. (Photo of original Mac) “On this stage 30 years ago, Steve introduced the Macintosh to the world.”
3. (Photo of iMac) “And on this stage we introduced the iMac, which signaled the rebirth of Apple. Today we have some amazing products to show you. And we think you will agree that this, too, is a very key day for Apple.”
4. (Text: iPhone). “I’m going to get started by talking about the product that has changed all of our lives. And that of course is iPhone.”
5. (Text: #1 smartphone in the world). "Last year we announced two iPhones for the very first time. Those products helped make the iPhone the top-selling smartphone in the world.”
6. (Text: 98% customer satisfaction) “More importantly, iPhone is the most beloved smartphone in the world with industry-leading customer satisfaction.”
7. (Photo of original iPhone). “The original iPhone set the standard for how the category would forever be defined.”
8. (Photo of iPhones) “Today we are launching the biggest advancement in the history of iPhone. I couldn’t be more excited and more proud to show it you now.”
9. (One-minute video of new iPhone 6)
10. (Photo of two new iPhones). “These are the new iPhones. The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. To tell you all about them I’d like to invite Phil Schiller up to the stage.”
In the first 10 slides of the Apple keynote presentation, there were nine words, six photographs and one video. That, my friends, is how to create a visually engaging presentation.
Text is necessary in most business presentations. There’s nothing wrong with words on a slide, but that doesn’t mean you should fill every slide with words and bullet points.
Give the eye a break. Balance words with pictures and video. That’s the Apple way.