In Expert Talk, Speaking

I’m not a fan of the Kindle. I have a 2nd generation Kindle lying somewhere in my home for over two years and I have barely used it. However, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Bezos. I have admired his ability to envision long term success while braving a short term hit.

The Kindle is an outstanding example of just that. Amazon doesn’t want to make money off the devices but on the e-commerce that it enables. After all, that’s their core business.

Anyways, this post isn’t about the Kindle. It isn’t even about Jeff Bezos. It’s about the presentation lessons I learned from his Kindle launch.

I started watching the full video recording of Jeff Bezos a couple of days after the actual launch. I was hoping to catch a few minutes of the video but ended up sitting through the entire 51 minutes of the complete talk. I found the talk to be brilliant. Some say, he is no Steve Jobs. I disagree. He was just as good.

Following are the key take always.

Include Criticism: Jeff begins his talk by showing three quotes from people who all predicted absolute doom and failure of the Kindle four years ago. He then proceeds to show the graph where the Kindle books have overtaken the real books in sales. An unusual but effective way to drive home a strong point.

Minimal Text on Screen: The emphasis is on highlighting the most important words or numbers. For example, while announcing the cost of Kindle fire, the screen only had the number $199 in big bold font right next to the picture of Kindle Fire. This helps the viewer to quickly shift their focus back on the speaker instead of spending time reading the screen.

Professional Assistance: There is no doubt that Amazon hired a professional trainer to train Jeff Bezos. Getting a Pro makes perfect sense. This is a big stage and the world is watching. The difference between a mediocre performance and an outstanding one can mean billion dollars worth of sales. Spending a tiny fraction in hiring a professional trainer greatly helps.

Thorough Rehearsals: As the country ambassador for TEDx, I have learned that the greatest of speeches have hours of rigorous, repeated rehearsals hidden behind them. I can see the same in this presentation too. You can see the confidence as he moves from one slide to the next. Its perfectly rehearsed. When you know what’s on the slides, you tend to relax and that greatly helps you deliver a better talk.

Intersperse with Video and Audio: Throughout the 51 minute presentation, you will notice Jeff pepper his talk with video demonstrations and TV advertisements. It helps break the monotony of continuous speech while driving home the point.

Share Limelight With Team: Sharing the spotlight is greatly appreciated. In this presentation, Jeff introduces its new web browser, Amazon Silk. He then quickly gives way to a video which has the actual developers of the browser explain its features and how it is going to improve our browsing experience. Am sure that those developers and their team appreciate that.

Don’t Hide the Screen: Its a subtle but important point that most of us ignore. Jeff is on stage which has a monstrously huge screen. When he is presenting, you will notice that he always is either on the left or right side of the screen making sure not to obstruct the view. You will notice that its almost a conscious decision. Often, as speakers we get so much absorbed in our talk that we naturally gravitate towards the center of the stage. Its only out of practice we can correct this.

Recap Important Points: Jeff does this brilliantly. He introduces almost half a dozen new products in his talks. At the end of each segment where he talks about the product, he has one slide that re-emphasizes the key points before moving to the next product. This is brilliant. He followed an important diktat in presentation: “Say what you are going to say. Say it. Say what you just said”. Brilliant.

Overall, I would give it a double thumbs up. But hey, I’m a Jeff Bezos fan. So, take it with a pinch of salt.

AS I conclude, I noticed one huge difference between a Jeff Bezos product announcement and a Steve Jobs Product announcement. Its the sheer lack of applause.

At an Apple announcement, you will notice this almost cult-like atmosphere. Every announcement is greeted with applause along with a blitz of camera flashes. In this Amazon talk, as Jeff Bezos proudly raises his Amazon Kindle Fire and shows it to the World for the first time, all you hear is radio silence!!