Steve Jobs: 10 Presentation Tactics for Ad Agency New Business

steve jobs presentation tactics for ad agency new business

Steve Jobs has something to teach small to midsize advertising, digital, media and PR agencies about pitching for new business.

Every new business pitch should do three things: inform, educate and entertain. columnist, Carmine Gallo, is a communications coach for some of the world’s most admired brands. He reveals the techniques that have turned Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, into one of the world’s corporate presenters. There are some helpful nuggets that will add punch to your next agency pitch.

Carmine shares that, “for two full days before a presentation, Jobs will practice the entire presentation, asking for feedback from product managers in the room. For 48 hours, all of his energy is directed at making the presentation the perfect embodiment of Apple’s messages.”

Here is the ‘Readers Digest’ version of his 10 Ways to Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way:

  1. Plan your presentation with pen and paper. Begin by storyboarding your presentation. Steve Jobs spent his preparation time brainstorming, sketching and white-boarding before he creating his presentation. All of the elements of the story that he wants to tell are thought through, elements are planned and collected before any slides are created.
  2. Create a single sentence description for every service/idea. Concise enough to fit in a 140-character Twitter post. An example, for the introduction of the MacBook Air in January, 2008, Jobs said that is it simply, “The world’s thinnest notebook”.
  3. Create a villain that allows the audience to rally around the hero—you and your product/service.  A ‘villain’ doesn’t necessarily have to be a direct competitor. It can be a problem in need of a solution.
  4. Focus on benefits. This is important for ad agencies to remember. Your audience only cares about how your service will benefit them so lead with benefits rather than agency credentials and capabilities.
  5. Stick to the rule of three for presentations. Almost every Jobs presentation was divided into three parts. You might have twenty points to make, but your audience is only capable of retaining three or four points in short-term memory. Give them too many points and they’ll forget everything you’ve said.
  6. Sell dreams, not your services. Steve Jobs didn’t sell computers. He was passionate about helping to create a better world. That was the promise that he sold. For example, when Jobs introduced the iPod in 2001, he said, “In our own small way we’re going to make the world a better place.” Where most people see the iPod as a music player, Jobs saw it as a tool to enrich people’s lives.
  7. Create visual slides. There were no bullet points in a Steve Jobs’ presentation. Instead he relied on photographs and images. When Steve Jobs unveiled the Macbook Air, Apple’s ultra-thin notebook computer, he showed a slide of the computer fitting inside a manila inter-office envelope. Keep your agency presentation’s that simple.
  8. Make numbers meaningful. Jobs always put large numbers into a context that was relevant to his audience. The bigger the number, the more important it is to find analogies or comparisons that make the data relevant to your audience.
  9. Use plain English. Jobs’s language was remarkably simple. He rarely, if ever, used the jargon that clouds most presentations—terms like ‘best of breed’ or ‘synergy’. His language was simple, clear and direct. So don’t use agency speak when presenting, “integration, proprietary process, etc.”
  10. Practice, practice, practice. Steve Jobs spent hours rehearsing every facet of his presentation. Every slide was written like a piece of poetry, every presentation staged like a theatrical experience. Steve Jobs made a presentation look effortless but that polish came after hours and hours of arduous practice. Agencies often are forced to rely on spontaneity to provide creative energy for a pitch because they have spent all of their time on putting together the presentation and leave little or no time for rehearsal. Most unrehearsed pitches end up falling flat.

Click on the link for a downloadable copy of Carmine Gallo’s, “How to Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way”

This article was based on Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Applying this simple formula can greatly improve any agency’s pitch and help them to stand out from the rest. It is a must read for advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

Additional articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Don Ferber says:

    I seriously think that Steve Jobs would NEVER open Powerpoint at any point in his presentation development process, since his own company offers a fine alternative to that product… Keynote.

    Tip 11: Use your own products whenever possible to create your presentation.

    That being said, Steve is definitely a presentation super star.

  2. I was surprised check to make sure internet connection is working was not on that list

  3. Robert Kleen says:

    Steve Jobs opening PowerPoint??

  4. My mistake. Ref to PP has been corrected.

  5. pamalvord says:

    Planning in analog, having a clear concise message and focusing on benefits are the universal truths of any form of communication. For more about how Steve’s Top 10 Presentation Tactics offer inspiration for engaging marketing initiatives, check out my blog at

    –Pam Alvord

  6. You can find most of these points in Ogilvy’s “Confessions of an Advertising Man” but it was need to see examples of the techniques used by a modern businessman Steve Jobs.

  7. Fantastic post Michael! It is a good guide to follow, once employed then depends also in your personal skills and how you connect with people, but I suppose this is obvious. Regards.

  8. Thanks Vicky.

  9. Must read post for agency new biz team. Toss out those 50-150 slides. Make it one hour and leave them wanting to know more. In addition to Jobs, study Walt Disney’s approach to presenting.

  10. Joctaviothomas says:

    The link to Gallow’s download expired.

  11. Thanks for the heads up.

  12. Impressive Tactics! Jobs ideas also Impressive to me. What a technology man!

  13. Jay Osterholm says:

    Absolutely brilliant! Perfect said, perfectly true when it comes to winning new business!

  14. Thank you Jay!

  15. What’s funny will be all the lousy CEO’s or whomever, that try to be the next “steve jobs” of their industry, but completly screwing their company up…just like the guy who ran JC Penny like Apple.

    Steve Jobs failed several times before anything got accomplished. We don’t need more Steve Jobs, we need better management and innovation.



  17. 4 and 6 vibe with me, spot on! By selling benefits and stressing a dream Steve Jobs helped make Apple one of the powerhouse brands on earth, rivaling Coca Cola and McD’s for most visible brands in the world.

    Every Apple user stresses how much they love their products and how they could never go back to using another brand. They bought into the dream and could not even dream of receiving these fab benefits through another competitor. This is why Jobs was so tremendous at presenting masterful speeches; he helped create a top shelf product of course but the energy behind the presentation gave the brand that extra kick…..into the stratosphere 😉

    Thanks for sharing Michael!


  18. You are welcome Ryan and thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts.

  19. Y U NO FIX the link to –> downloadable copy of Carmine Gallo’s, “How to Sell Your Ideas the Steve Jobs Way”


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