Steve Jobs’ Reality Distortion Field: Why Apple’s CEO is so persuasive

“Yesterday, Google News was showing 2,152 stories today about Apple’s recently unveiled iPhone. Any way you slice it, that is serious buzz about a product that isn’t even shipping yet. And since Blackfriars’ brief is to examine how companies communicate their own value and that of their products, those numbers are pretty interesting,” Blackfriars Communications’ Carl Howe writes for SeekingAlpha.

Howe writes, “One of the benefits of being at MacWorld this year was that it gave me the chance to dissect Steve Jobs’ presentation style in person (you can stream it yourself from Apple’s Web site). And while I was madly blogging on my cell phone while the keynote was going on, I did jot some notes about just how he sets up what is fondly referred to as his reality distortion field. My conclusion: there’s no magic here. He simply does all the things that a great communicator is supposed to, including many techniques that we teach.”

Howe explains that Jobs is so persuasive because he:
• Rehearses
• Is himself
• Uses visuals effectively
• Focuses on the problem he’s solving in detail
• Says everything three times
• Tells stories
• Isn’t afraid of the dramatic pause
• Uses comparisons to demonstrate features

Howe writes, “If anyone needs more convincing of how much of a difference presentation technique makes, just contrast Cingular CEO Stan Sigman’s presentation yesterday with Jobs’. Despite his professionally written content, his presentation just falls flat on too many words and not enough life. The audience started clapping at once point just to try to convince him to cut it short. Ouch.”

Howe writes, “Apple has built its reputation by sweating the details for its customers. Jobs does the same for his audiences. Few companies will effectively compete against Apple until they start doing the same. Until then, Jobs’ reality distortion field will be as powerful as ever.”

Full article, in which Howe discusses each of the bulleted points above, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Patrice” for the heads up.]

Related article:
How to pitch like Apple CEO Steve Jobs (RDF not inclu – April 07, 2006


  1. What Jobs does is not an “RDF” it’s just simply called being an excellent presenter and public speaker. Ballmer and many other execs could definitely use some lessons on how to do that.

    The big difference is that Jobs doesn’t come off sounding like he’s talking to fellow CEOs in a board meeting, he actually knows how to genuinely speak to regular common people and customers.

  2. He nailed it when talking about Cingular’s CEO. It would always be tough to share the stage with Jobs, but it was embarrassing to see just how much better Steve’s communication skills were than that of the other CEO’s that joined him.

  3. It always helps when the product he is touting is worthy of the showmanship.

    His demos of the orignal Mac, the PowerPC-based Macs, OS7, and OSX 10.4 all blew me away.

    The hype of the iPod Hi-Fi and AppleTV demos still leave a bad taste.

  4. Another reason why I’m dubious of the Cingular/AT&T excluse deal. Cingular as a brand seems modern, hip, relevant, and a good parterning with Apple. However, Cingular is being swallowed by AT&T, along with the branding, and the Cingular CEO’s presentation style echos what I think of when I think of AT&T. Boring. Painfully boring actually. The contrast between him and Jobs couldn’t be more striking. I know it may seem superficial, but branding and marketing do have an impact. Apple needs to downplay this relationship and mention it infrequently…and keep that (dud)e off the stage! At least Sony’s deer in the headlights presentation was funny.

  5. The Stevenote was entertainment and persuasion at its best. Classic.

    The other dudes were painfully boring and dry. Even Eric Schmidt went on and on about “data services” and blah blah blah…

    Did anyone else think Scott Forstall did a very nice job presenting Time Machine etc.? I found him personable, clear, and friendly.

    John, put down the crackpipe.

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