Toastmasters Challenge Continued: Practice 9 More Secrets of Steve Jobs

This is the second part of Toastmasters Challenge: Apply Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs! 9 more secrets of Steve Jobs, out of which 8 you can put into practice in Toastmasters. Let’s have a look!

Note: All “Scenes” are chapters from Carmine Gallo’s book Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and all


are quotes from the book Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. The headings in this blog post are identical as titles of the chapters in the book. I find the book super-useful and if you like Steve Jobs and Presenting, maybe you’ll like it too.

Scene 10: Use Amazingly Zippy Words

How often do you think about the vocabulary you use in your presentation? How much time do you spend about using the “perfect” word? I have to admit: I almost never thought about this. And yet – a word can say more than a thousand pictures (if it is the right zippy word).

There is a simple way how Toastmasters can help you with this: One of the roles in the meeting is a “grammarian”. This person introduces a Word of the Day that everyone should use in their presentations. (In fact I just used zippy as the word of the day last Monday). More importantly – the grammarian gives feedback on the use of language, both brilliant and terrible.

Learn to impress your grammarian and you will boost your ability to choose the right words for your audience. Want an example? Here is what Steve Jobs said about Apple’s OS X operating system:

“We made the buttons on the screen look so good, you’ll want to lick them.”

– Steve Jobs about OS X Operating System

You want to try that out in Toastmasters before you bring it up in front of your boss!

Scene 11: Share the Stage

Steve Jobs did not give his keynotes all by himself. He often invited guests – partners and experts, to introduce specific products and features.

A Jobs presentation is rarely a one-man play. He features supporting characters who perform key roles in the narrative.

Bringing someone else on stage adds one layer of complexity – first of all, you don’t have that other person completely under control. But having others enter your presentation also calls for experience beyond pure delivering presentations. You need to know how to introduce the next person, how to seamlessly hand the stage over to them – as well as take it back once they’re done.

If you master this skill – you’ll be in control. If you lack – it – you risk getting into an awkward situation. If you want to practice it – just take the role of a “Toastmaster of the evening”, the Master of Ceremony in a Toastmasters meeting. Do this a few times and sharing the stage will be as casual as brushing your teeth.

Scene 12: Stage Your Presentation with Props

Another “trick” rarely seen in the business world. As if it were not intimidating enough to stand in front of an audience and speak to the slides. Why complicate our lives bringing additional props?

If you asked me to try this for the first time in a high-stakes presentation, I would have said “No, thank you.” But in a practice speech in a speaking club? Why not? There, I can even bring a portable bluetooth speaker cube and sing a Britney Spears song if you ask me (in fact, sometimes I do it). You can do the same (you don’t have to sing Britney Spears). Once you get the confidence on the “practice grounds”, it will be much easier to try it at work.

Scene 13: Reveal a “Holy Shit” Moment

Your listeners should not need to review notes, slides, or transcripts of the presentation to recall the one thing.

Ryan Holiday posted in 2015 an article with the title: Tell Me Who You Spend Time With, And I Will Tell You Who You Are

One of the things that will happen to you when you join Toastmasters – among others a bunch of people who are geeks about presentations – that you will see a lot of presentations. Not just in the Toastmasters meetings. You will start watching International Speech Finals, you will start watching TED Talks not just for entertainment but also for inspiration… And as you will watch many, you will forget most. But there will be a few you will remember. For me, these are Tim Hartford’s How frustration can get us more creative (and him playing the opening lines in Keith Jarret’s Cologne concert), Dananjaya Hettiaracchi’s use of rose (I don’t want to spoil it for you if you have not seen it – if you haven’t, be sure to watch it here) or Jaro Kovac’s attack on the president of Toastmasters International during a Humorous Speech contest.

The truth about adding a “Holy Shit” moment to your presentation is that it will not come out of the blue. You need to see a ton of others to get a feeling what works this way so that you can come with one of your own. When you join Toastmasters, you will be exposed to so many presentations, that you will get a big enough sample.

Scene 14: Master Stage Presence

There is never time to practice stage presence. That’s why most people suck at it. They are the masters of the monotone, able to put their audiences to sleep in a matter of minutes.

That’s a shame, because it does not take that much effort to significantly improve it. Toastmasters will give you space for that. With every speech, you will practice one new skill. Including all the aspects of stage presence. Vocal variety? Check. Eye contact? It’s there. Body language? You’ve got it.

Mastering stage presence is like learning a new dance. It is overwhelming in the beginning. It feels awkward – and looks awkward. There are so many things you need to pay attention to at the same time. Don’t get too nervous about it. In Toastmasters, you’ll take it step by step.

Scene 15: Make It Look Effortless

Jobs unveils Apple’s latest products as if he were a particularly hip and plugged-in friend showing off inventions in your living room…

Carmine Gallo quotes a BusinessWeek reporter. And adds that to Steve Jobs, performing at this level took tremendous amount of practice time.

As the 2001 World Champion of Public Speaking Darren LaCroix says it, in order to become great at speaking you need the following three things: “Stage time, stage time, stage time”.

If there is one thing you will get plenty of in Toastmasters, it is stage time. Once you join the club, the Club Officers will keep asking you to deliver a speech, give an evaluation or host the meeting. This is how it works. All you will need to do will be to say: “Yes.”

Scene 16: Wear the Appropriate Costume

Okay, here is one that Toastmasters probably won’t help you with (much). But as my grandma says: The exception confirms the rule.

Scene 17: Toss the Script

Steve Jobs appears conversational, but (…) being “conversational” requires a lot of practice.

Has it ever crossed your mind that you blank out during your presentation? It’s an idea from the realm of nightmares, right? Most people feel this way. That’s why most people heavily rely on their notes. In order to toss the script, you have to be confident with your content – but even more importantly, you have to have the confidence to speak off the cuff. You have to be so relaxed on the stage that even if something unexpected happens, you will be able to act on the spot and quickly adjust your presentation to the changed situation.

This is a skill that Toastmasters teach you in Table Topics. There, you go on stage, pick a question (for example: “What would be the first thing you would do if you got the job of your boss?”) and after 30 seconds to think – you speak for 2 minutes.

For many people this is the scariest part of a Toastmasters meeting – but once you do it a couple of times, you realize that you don’t need the script – because whenever you forget, you’ll be able to improvise.

Scene 18: Have Fun

Most business communicators lose sight of the fact that their audiences want to be informed and entertained.

It can be difficult to get fun into your presenting at work. Especially when you’re not confident with your content or your delivery.

And yet – it’s the fun element that every audience hopes for. In Toastmasters, you’ll get an opportunity to focus on the “Fun” part of your presentations. Projects focused on humor and entertainment, as well as humorous speaking contests will give you a flavor of what it feels like to make your audience laugh. It is addictive.

Moreover – once you really get comfortable on the stage – you will get more relaxed. You will stop being so all damn serious about it (when you speak every week, giving a presentation becomes a “no big deal” activity) and having fun will become a natural part of the process.

Maybe this is the biggest secret of them all. With Toastmasters, giving presentations will become fun for you. When you’ll be having fun, you will want to do more of it. When you will be doing more of it – you will become better at it. And as you will be becoming better at it – you will be having even more fun.

If you have just finished reading a book – or a blog post about presenting and you are thinking: Wow, this is such an exciting idea, I wonder what it feels like doing this – don’t hesitate. Find a club near you, come join us and give it a try. We’ll be happy to see you and help you along the way

Header photo by Matthew Yohe at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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