Teaching public speaking through Steve Jobs speeches (Youtube videos)

Every time I teach a public speaking class, my students bring up Steve Jobs. I’m betting that he’s more famous in Korea than he is in America. So I figured why not search Youtube for some useful Steve Jobs’ speech videos.

This one is a speaking coach breaking down Jobs’ method. He mentions the theme (I call it the purpose) when you give your listeners a reason for listening. He mentions the outline and transitions, he mentions enthusiasm (don’t be stiff – have fun – be excited about the topic) which is a huge one based on my experience.He says to make numbers meaningful, he says to use very little text on visual aids (my students love wordy Power Point slides even though I tell them no more than 6 words).

He says to give them a show but I don’t want to encourage my students to play video clips. He says Steve Jobs spend lots of time rehearsing. Another one I’m not so sure about is the “one more thing” or the “added bonus” at the end – most EFL students aren’t exactly in a position to introduce a band at the end of each speech!

Interestingly, Steve Jobs wasn’t always so exciting. Here he shows flashes of greatness but he also spends time looking at the floor and rubbing his chin. Point out how when he makes eye contact the speech seems much better:

Following the “Think different” theme introduced in the previous video here we see an improved Jobs making better eye contact but still looking at the floor and rubbing his face. I think we can say his style here is clearly better than in the first video.

Interestingly, Steve Jobs more recent speeches show the same tenancies. He sometimes looks at the floor or his visuals or rubs his mustache or whatever. Sometimes people with charisma get to break the rules for public speaking. Some of my students probably have that charisma but they still need to follow the rules in my class so Steve Jobs will not be considered the perfect example. He can show you how to use a natural voice but his eye contact isn’t where those of us with less charisma (and those of us in this class) need it to be. We want 99 to 100% eye contact when you’re speaking.

Steve Jobs’ audiences already love him. Most of us don’t have that so we need 100% eye contact.

And here is an analysis of that same speech. Again they mention excitement in his voice “conveying emotion.” They also talk about how he demonstrated while sitting in a chair – it’s cool but we don’t do it in class! Become rich and famous and then you can break the rules.

Convey enthusiasm

Be conversational

Show, don’t lecture:

Now we have his famous Stanford commencement speech. The introduction mentions “think different” around 5:20 but really you can skip to 7:30 when Steve Jobs begins talking. He reads (most of his speeches have far better eye contact) but students are interested in his life story (like he’s adopted, why he dropped out of college, how he got fired from Apple, etc.). Notice how around 15:30 he stumbles and keeps going – no apology necessary.

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