NUMBERS: The secret of Steve jobs

[Reading time 2 minutes]

Every good presentation contains numbers. This is one of the most hard-to-follow part of a speech.

Because of this, we need to understand how should we treat them.

Steve Jobs was one of the greatest enterprise storytellers of every time because of the way in which he has been used numbers during his presentations.

Indeed, after the explanation of the “reason why”, we need to support our big idea with numbers and statistics.

The technique with numbers consist in four different stages:

  • Simplify: means that we have to make our numbers easier, rounding them. If we have a statistic of 43,2%, this will become the 43%. Then we can explain the percentage in a better, more pragmatic way: 43% means 4 out of 10 (or 2 out of 5). In this way the listener will figure in his mind the precise percentage, relatively to the population we are talking about. From this we may understand the creative power of a speaker. Indeed, depending on our audience, a speaker will choose how to explain his numbers (40 out of 100 is really different, in the listeners’ minds, from 4 out of 10).
  • Translate: means to let all the listeners to understand what we are talking about, using simple words. It’s a real translation of all the technical words.
  • Compare: means to connect the number to everyday life. Some examples may be:
    • Talking about population, we can make a comparison to the number of inhabitants of another city or country;
    • Talking about money, you can explain what would you be able to buy with that amount;
    • Charge: how many cargo ships or trucks you will fill with your product;
    • Distance: the distance putting a number of object in a row.
  • Connect: in this part a great speaker will make a connection between their subject and the listeners life. Only in these way these lasts will think “what is my lace in this story?”.

These use of numbers is very old, but one of the most famous speaker that used it was Jobs. Because of this, this technique is called “The Steve Jobs Secret”.

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