Less Like Bill. More Like Steve.

“I wish the stage were as narrow as the wire of a tightrope dancer, so that no incompetent would dare step upon it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Bill Gates isobviously not up on his Goethe. This recent presentation, which has been called “one of the most poorly executed events I’ve seen Microsoft do in years,”was pointed out to us by both Seth Godin and Garr Reynolds. The latter has an extremely detailed analysis on Zen presentation (he even goes so far as to observe Mr. Gates’ closed-off presentation style that makes him look like The Simpsons‘ Mr. Burns).

This screenshot stands in stark contrast to Steve Jobs at … um … everykeynote he’s done. Even if you’re not a computer nut it’s worth watching an Apple keynote to gainsome valuable insight on making your next presentation into an event.

Too many people hop up in front of an audience that they assume is captivated (but ends up being captive — in the bad sense) without fully realizing the gravity of Goethe’s words. You have a responsibility when you are presenting. A responsibility to your audience to communicate your message. Don’t take this for granted. Practice. Videotape yourself. Learn how to put together an effective and concise PowerPoint presentation (not just a teleprompter or virtual note cards).

Presentation is less like writing an inner-office memo and more like a major communications channel that deserves the attention you give the rest of the pieces of your marketing plan. Remember Goethe’s words and be prepared. (The Apple addict strikes again!)