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Review: “Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs”

April 23, 2010

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Carmine Gallo, McGraw Hill, ©2010

Book cover imageHere’s who I think will want to read this book: you do presentations and are a big fan of Steve Jobs. If that’s you, then get the book.

Now if that’s not you, it is probably the “big Steve Jobs fan” part that’s the issue and that’s what gives me very mixed feelings about this book. The author is, apparently, a huge Steve Jobs fan, which is okay, but if Steve has any presentation ‘secrets’ they’re not in this book. I could find no information in the book that indicated that Steve had anything to do with the book except lend his name to the title. Instead, what this book contains is a good analysis of Steve’s presentation style and what he does that makes Steve an extraordinary example of how to do a specific kind of presentation very, very successfully.

There’s nothing wrong with that approach to the topic, but if you have read Scott Berkun’s book, then you don’t need this one because Scott’s book is better. Scott claims no ‘secrets,’ but his book has a lot of practical advice and lots of little surprising tidbits you can use in any kind of presentation, not just the product introduction, marketing pitch or keynote speech. Gallo’s focus is on those presentation types because that’s mostly what Steve does. That means Gallo’s book has much less to offer to all the rest of us who do conference-room presentations and, especially, technical presentations.

That said, Gallo’s book is well researched, entertaining and well written. He pulls in material from Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte and Dr. Medina (Brain Rules) among others. He provides an entertaining and interesting analysis of the factors that make Steve successful. Unfortunately, some of those factors are investing weeks in the preparation and using a many-person staff. Great advice, but my presentation is due three days from now and the staff is me.

If you read Gallo’s book you will learn a lot about how Steve Jobs does it and you’ll learn some useful things that apply to every presenter and every presentation. But most of us will learn far more that we can apply by reading others, especially Garr’s first book and Berkun’s book.

Bottom line: it’s well written and entertaining, but there are better books out there if you are looking for pragmatic help doing the kinds of presentations most of us do.

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