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Teachers: You, Too, Can Present Like Steve Jobs

by Amanda Richardson
September 12, 2013
With the recently released Steve Jobs biopic, Apple’s legendary founder and pitchman is back in our national psyche. We can all agree that Jobs changed how we view design and creativity by elevating the quality and tools of many of the technologies we use every day. He was also a natural showman, and his Apple speeches were must-watch events for Apple fans around the globe.

p: acaben via photopin cc
To better engage their students this school year, teachers can learn a great deal from the undisputed king of tech presentations. Wouldn’t it be amazing to have students raving about your recent history lecture or biology talk like they would the latest iPhone or iPad?

At Prezi, we love helping anyone—especially educators—share their ideas more effectively. It’s a main reason why Prezi now has over 27 million users in more than 190 countries, including millions of teachers and students. To deliver a lecture like the Steve Jobs of the classroom, try the following simple tips and tricks.

1. Engage students through storytelling.

Steve Jobs was a master storyteller who used stories to connect emotionally with his audience. Unfortunately, many students have become numb to conventional classroom presentations, where they’re confronted with slide after slide containing too much information in quick, disjointed succession.

As a teacher, you can tell better stories by revealing “how” something happened in addition to just the “what” or “why.” Visual tools can really help support this storytelling. For instance, Prezi’s zooming canvas lends itself to storytelling because it naturally shows the connections between all of the details. Other visuals such as props, photos, or YouTube clips can help convey you story, too.

2. Communicate both the “forest” as well as the “trees.”

Steve Jobs was famous for presenting the big picture vision of his ideas without neglecting the fine details. Many teachers are good at either of these things, but you can build a much better classroom presence by keeping both in balance. Seek to highlight the interesting details of a topic, but force yourself to keep coming back to the main idea.

Students will actually learn this by example: They will naturally observe how you keep the logical progression going from smaller supporting topics to the bigger picture and will naturally channel this experience when giving their own speech in front of an audience.

We’ve even worked hard to build this kind of balanced communication directly into Prezi. Rather than being stuck in a static slide, with no context of where you came from or where you’re going, Prezi’s zooming canvas empowers you to show the big picture and then zoom in on the details. This adds relevant context to your idea by presenting an integrated view of how each detail relates to each other and to the overarching concept you’re trying to convey.

3. Make presentations more collaborative.

Steve Jobs spent months on his presentations, collaborating with colleagues and even responding to customer emails. Encourage students to not only interact vocally but allow them to make additions to your talk, making it a lively “streaming” presentation of sorts. This will create a classroom experience that’s bilateral as opposed to unilateral, where information is flowing from teacher to student and vice versa, thus encouraging the creativity of the audience.

Students will learn not only the content of your presentation, but also the power of working and collaborating with others. That’s a great skill to have no matter what career they may choose.

This is also one aspect of Prezi that I’m really proud of: It’s great for interactive classroom sessions or group projects. Using Prezi, you or your students can collaborate in real time with up to 10 others, whether in the classroom or at home, to brainstorm and create your presentation on one shared virtual whiteboard. Some teachers have even told us that students who won’t normally participate in a class discussion verbally will do so electronically through Prezi.

4. Strive for portability and accessibility.

Because Steve Jobs wanted to maximize the impact of his presentations, he shared them with fans all over the world. Make your presentations shareable, searchable and easy to download on the web through various tools that are available to you for free. Encourage your students to download and study your presentations, and to perhaps create presentations themselves and store them online for your class to later discuss.

If you’d like to use Prezi for this, we always store your presentations in the cloud for easy access from anywhere—even from an iPhone or iPad. We’ve found that teachers love it because if a student misses a presentation in class he or she can still view the presentation from home with no extra effort on the teacher’s part. In addition to Prezi, there are multiple tools that can help facilitate this process—such as Evernote for notetaking and Dropbox for sharing files.

Even though we can’t all channel Steve Jobs’ legendary on-stage charisma that doesn’t mean we can’t all learn something important from his unique presentation skills. By putting to use these techniques and tips, you will not only present like Steve Jobs, but your students can, too.

This is a highly developed skill that they will need as they progress from job to job and work their way up the career ladder, no matter what their chosen industry may be.

Amanda Richardson is Prezi’s head of product. Whether she is helping users browse great presentations at prezi.com or making Prezi’s desktop and mobile apps elegant and easy to use, she focuses on finding ways to inspire others to share their ideas and stories—including millions of teachers and students.

© 2013 Amanda Richardson. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.


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