Skip to Main Content

Communication: Professional Communication

10 Presentation Techniques You Can (And Should) Copy From Apple's WWDC Keynote

Stick to one theme per slide. The designers behind Apple’s presentation slides once told me they stick to one theme per slide. Don’t try to cram too much content—too many ideas—on one slide. That goes for statistics, too. For example, think about how many slides you would create if you delivered the following idea: “The developer program is incredibly vibrant. We have over six million registered developers. Demand for this show has never been greater. We sold out in just over a minute [71 seconds].” Most people would put the two statistics, 6 million and 71 seconds, on one slide. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, had two slides. The first one simply read: 6 million. The second slide read: 71 seconds. The second slide also had the words “Sold Out” in red (see below). If a statistic is important enough for you to deliver and you want your audience to recall the data point, then it deserves its own slide.

Make data visual. Early in the presentation Cook announced that Apple customers have downloaded 50 billion apps from the App Store. Instead of simply putting the number [50 billion] on the screen, as most presenters would do, Apple designers created a visual display of the data. Since the statistic had a lot of zeroes they decided it would be impressive to fill the screen with it: 50,000,000,000.  But they didn’t stop there. If you look closely at the slide (below) you can see that the zeroes are actually images of apps. Data is more memorable when it’s visually interesting.

Always avoid bullet points. There are no bullet points on Apple slides. There are images and text (sometimes on the same slide), but no bullet points. Bullets are the least effective way of transmitting information on a slide. It simply adds too much clutter to the screen and forces the audience to read too many words as the presenter is talking. Most people can’t listen to someone speak, read text at the same time, and expect to retain anything!

Share the stage. Tim Cook shares the stage with his executive team, designers, partners, and developers. Cook introduced five other speakers in the two-hour period and one of them, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, took the stage twice. Designer Jony Ive didn’t physically join Cook on stage, but appeared on a video to explain the design philosophy behind the new iOS 7. Too many CEOs and founders think they have to carry the presentation or pitch themselves. Think of your presentation as a Broadway show complete with sets (slides), props (demos), and a cast of characters.

Stick to the 10-minute rule. Cook introduced his first “guest speaker,” the co-founder of Anki, Boris Sofman, at exactly 10 minutes into his presentation. The 10-minute rule is a technique I recommend to every presenter, but I must give credit to the person who inspired it—University of Washington researcher, John Medina. Medina once told me that no matter how engaging you are, your audience will begin to tune out of your conversation after about 10 minutes. That doesn’t mean you can’t reign them back in, but if you drone on and on you will most likely lose their attention.

Apple does a nice job of building in “soft breaks” to maintain the attention of the audience. Cook didn’t speak for much more than ten minutes at a time. He would break up his slides with another speaker or a video. All the Apple speakers stuck to the rule. During his introduction of the new operating system, OS X Mavericks, Federighi included two demonstrations, both lasting under 10 minutes and both about 10 minutes apart. Although Federighi held the stage for more than 10 minutes, he provided soft breaks and kept the flow moving nicely: Slides-demo-slides-demo-slides.

Have a chip on your shoulder every now and then. Apple vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, may have received the loudest applause when he revealed a radical redesign of Apple’s desktop for professional users, the Mac Pro. In a clear jab to critics who say Apple has lost its innovation edge, Schiller said, “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass!” Your audience appreciates passion and emotion once in a while.

Create a Twitter-friendly headline and repeat it twice. My favorite communication technique is what I call the Twitter-friendly headline. Whenever you launch a new product or service, clearly summarize it in one short sentence, preferably under 140 characters so it’s easily tweeted. Apple executives do this for every product announcement. The new iOS 7 was no exception. Twice in the presentation Tim Cook said, “iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone.” Now take a look at a few tweets from popular media brands:

@Mashable: Apple unveils iOS 7, ‘biggest change since the original iPhone.’

@HuffPostTech: A look at iOS 7, the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.

@USATODAY: Tim Cook calls iOS7 the biggest change to iOS since the introduction of the iPhone.

The Twitter headline works every time. Create one.

Practice. A lot. A 20-minute demo and product launch can take up to 250 hours at Apple. That includes the time spent on creating the story line, designing slides, testing the demo, and on-stage rehearsals. Apple’s slides are brilliant and the presenters are smooth and ‘effortless’ because speakers and designers spend a lot of time behind the scenes to get everything just right.

Show your team some love. It always helps to acknowledge your team. Cook lavishes praise on his team in nearly every public appearance. He concluded the WWDC ’13 keynote by saying, “I’d like to thank everyone at Apple who worked so hard to create them [new products]. I get to work with the most talented and creative people on earth and it’s a joy to serve with them.”

Make your presentations public. Within two hours of the keynote Apple made the video of the entire two-hour presentation available on its website. It’s not buried on the site, either. It’s on the home page. Presentations are now part of your brand’s story and marketing message. Post the slides on your website and on a sharing site such as The slides bring your brand story to life.

Don’t let your ideas die because they were delivered poorly. I’m not suggesting that you copy everything about an Apple presentation (look, colors, style, font) to the letter. I am recommending that you copy the techniques in Apple’s keynote; techniques that are based on proven and effective presentation methods.

Online Virtual Team Building Activity

Online Virtual Team Building Quiz for Remote Teams

Creative virtual team leaders are coming up with new virtual team building ideas to encourage their remote workers to work more productively together, build trust, collaborate and develop a sense of identity as a collective group.    Popular team building games can be easily adapted to become Virtual Team Building Games”.  Just by getting creative and using your every-day virtual collaboration technology you’ll be able to facilitate fun virtual team building games with your virtual employees and remote workers.

Business Management Quiz becomes Fun Online Virtual Team Building Game

Here is an idea of how a simple team building activity can be turned into a fun virtual team building game online.   What’s more, it’s free!    We are going to take a typical business quiz and turn it into a real virtual team building activity that will …

  1. Bring members of your virtual teams together in a fun and relaxed way
  2. Encourage virtual employees to connect more regularly using online collaboration tools
  3. Help your virtual team employees to learn more about working virtually, cultural differences and improve their overall business general knowledge

What’s great about this virtual team building activity is that it is so adaptable.   The timing and quiz topic can be adapted to your specific virtual team dynamics and needs.   Depending on what you would like your virtual team to “take-away” from the virtual team building activity you can adapt the timing, the team allocations and subject matter accordingly.

What you’ll need to play this virtual team building game …

An online meeting room where your entire virtual team will gather

If you have an established virtual team, you are likely already using some type of virtual meeting collaboration tool.  If you are not yet using an online meeting room (where everyone can meet in the one place together) I recommend you click here to find out more about how to set-up and online meeting room.     An online meeting room is the #1 essential tool to encourage virtual team collaboration.

All virtual team members will need access to online communication tools

The team will use every-day virtual team technology and communication tools to communicate with each other.  It depends on how your virtual teams usually communicate.  As the virtual team leader you can choose to have the team/s use the same technology they would usually communicate with, or if you want to encourage your team to try different collaboration tools there are options like Google Hangouts, Yammer and mobile devices with chat applications etc.   An excellent list of online communication tools has been compiled here by Mashable.

Virtual Team Quiz questions.

You can adapt the quiz questions to suit the topic you want your Virtual Team to focus on.  The quiz can also be adapted to the purpose of your team building activity.   Is the activity just for fun – a “water cooler” or “ice-breaker” team building activity?  Do you want the team to learn about different cultures represented in the virtual team?   How long do you want the session to be?  How difficult do you want the questions to be?  What do you want your virtual team members to learn from the game?    Quiz balls at has some excellent ready-made quiz questions and answers you can use.   Their site provides a whole range of free team building games, quizzes and puzzles that can be easily adapted to the online virtual working world.

How To Play The Virtual Team Building Quiz Game

Once the team has met together in the online virtual meeting room, the game facilitator divides the virtual team up into smaller groups of 3-4 people.  If you only have a small virtual team then virtual team members can play in twos or as individuals, though working in teams is the ideal scenario if you want to encourage communication and build trust within the virtual team.  When breaking up the group, take into consideration personality, language and cultural differences.

Present the quiz questions on the screen with a visible time limit (make the time limit reasonable but challenging).  Depending on the amount of time you have, the questions can be presented one-by-one, in topic groups or all at once as a list.   The teams confer with each other using the virtual communication tools to come up with their written answers.   When the timer runs out it’s “tools down”.   The virtual teams present their answers and the team with the most correct answers wins.

To add a feeling of urgency and excitement to the activity use music and an online countdown clock with alarm.  The website , “Class tools” has an excellent free online countdown timer tool with built in soundtracks that will add an exciting sense of fun to your virtual quiz session.

If appropriate, give a prize or reward out to the virtual team that wins.  By playing a quick, short version of the game before your weekly virtual team meeting you can also turn the quiz into a virtual team tournament with a tally board.   At the end of 3 months you can host a virtual happy hour for the virtual team that wins the most tally points.

It’s all about making the virtual team building activity fun and allowing your virtual team members to connect with each other – ultimately you want each individual remote worker to identify with the virtual team as a whole – to not feel so remote, unsupported and isolated from the other virtual team members.   You want your virtual team to enjoy working with each other, trust each other and get creative with each other.

Professional Communication