The man Cook is replacing is, of course, Apple cofounder and celebrity CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs is the charismatic turtleneck-clad icon who has become the face, heart and soul of Apple. And his personal style is very different from Cook’s.
Where Jobs is the tech visionary and influential innovator, Cook is respected for his operational genius, dedication to perfection, work ethic and intensity. Where Jobs sought the spotlight, Cook has kept a low public profile. Cook is often referred to as the soft-spoken yin to Jobs’ more volatile yang.
Steve Jobs is an original, and his charisma can’t be replicated. If Cook tries to do so, it’s a sure recipe for failure.
But just because Cook shouldn’t try to be Jobs doesn’t mean that he can’t learn from Jobs. In fact, there are seven presentation strategies that Jobs is famous for and that Cook should, and most probably will, emulate.
1. Maintaining positive eye contact
Jobs does an excellent job of maintaining steady eye contact with the audience throughout a talk. If Cook does as well, you’ll see him looking at specific individuals or small groups, holding their attention briefly, and then moving to another group or individual in another part of the room. If he struggles with this, you’ll notice his gaze sweeping the audience too quickly or getting “stuck” looking at only one part of the room.
2. Exuding confidence and competence
Jobs walks on stage with a relaxed, open face and body that tells an audience he’s confident and comfortable with the information he’s about to deliver.
While Cook is not the showman Jobs is, he’s a solid communicator in his own right –as evidenced by his performance at the Verizon iPhone announcement. I expect that he will make an entrance on Tuesday with a smooth gait, erect but comfortable posture and relaxed, open arms. All of which will project confidence and credibility.
3. Ditching the lectern
Jobs rarely uses notes or stands behind a lectern. He realizes that a lectern not only covers up the majority of his body, it also acts as a barrier between him and the audience. Jobs also rehearses his presentations so well that he doesn’t need a script. Instead of notes, he has copies of his slides on a video prompter placed at the foot of the stage. This helps to give his talks an impromptu feel.
I don’t think that Cook will change this effective AV set up. And with his reputation for perfection, you can bet he’ll rehearse until he knows the material cold.
4. Walking the stage
Jobs is famous for “prowling” the stage, and it is an effective communication strategy because the human brain is programmed to pay attention to movement, and it keeps an audience from becoming bored.