Watch a Steve Jobs speech, and just try not to get chills.
He’s regarded as one of the most electrifying speakers of our time, and for good reason — something about the way he communicates his revolutionary ideas is just so effective.
It’s not on accident.
Actually, Steve Jobs used a popular framework for crafting even his most famous speeches and presentations — and anyone can use that framework, too.
It’s called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, and some of history’s best public speakers have used it to become great.
Anyone can use the steps laid out in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to help them create an effective speech or presentation. But many developers are likely to wonder why they should bother. They write code. They don’t present.
But they should.
Developers can (and should) learn to be better speakers, and we’re going to tell you why — and then how to do it.
We know what you’re thinking right now.
I get paid to write code, not talk about it.
That may be true. But developers should learn the basics of public speaking anyway, even if it’s not a regular part of their job. The reason? It can make them better at things that are part of their job.
If you think about it, public speaking is really just getting your ideas across effectively to a crowd of people. If you ever have to convince your manager or team to do something related to a work project, public speaking skills can help you.
And then, of course, there are the ways this skill can help advance your career. If you have any future management ambitions, consider how often managers have to lead meetings and direct or inspire their teams. Public speaking skills will go a long way toward getting you ready for a managerial role.
Even for developers who have done very little of it, public speaking isn’t as hard as you might think to master. Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is a popular framework for crafting a speech, and it’s been used to great success by some of the best public speakers of our time, like Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King, Jr.
In fact, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence can be traced all the way back to Aristotle, who summed it up this way: “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.”
That’s the basic idea behind Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, though the more modern version of the strategy adds a few steps that are meant to appeal to your audience emotionally and drive them to take action — two important parts of any speech or presentation.
Here are the steps included in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence as it exists today.
A Monroe’s Motivated Sequence speech always begins with a great attention-grabber. This can come in many different forms. You could:
- Tell a story;
- Tell a joke;
- Share a surprising fact or statistic;
- Make a shocking statement.
Anything that makes the audience sit up and pay attention is perfect. And remember that people have short attention spans. Keep this part of the speech brief — once you have your audience’s attention, move on quickly.
Now it’s time to tell the audience why you’re speaking to them: You need something from them. State the problem clearly, in a way that makes the audience feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied.
When you make statements about problems or opportunities, back them up as much as possible with facts, figures, and statistics. This step of the sequence is all about getting the audience to see and agree that something needs to change.
Now for the most important part of your speech: You’re going to tell and show your audience how you can satisfy or solve the need.
During this step, you should:
- Lay out your plan, but do so concisely. Remember that your audience is full of people with short attention spans.
- Keep the audience engaged by using stories to show how your solution will solve the discomfort or dissatisfaction they felt earlier.
- Think about any counter-arguments or objections people might have to your plan, and address them in advance.
Next, you want to really sell the audience on your solution. Help them visualize your solution in action, and see how it will make things better.
There are three common visualization methods used for Monroe’s Motivated Sequence:
- Positive Visualization: Show the audience what their world will look like if your solution is adopted.
- Negative Visualization: Show the audience what their world will look like if your solution is not adopted.
- Contrast Visualization: Start by describing the negative visualization, then show the audience they have another option by describing the positive visualization.
And finally, conclude your speech by telling your audience what their next step should be if they want to move toward your solution. You don’t need to create an entire roadmap for them — just tell them the first step to take.
Now let’s look at a classic speech that put Monroe’s Motivated Sequence to work.
This is the speech that Steve Jobs gave in 2007 when he announced the first iPhone. Watch the speech, and then we’ll break down the ways he used the five steps in Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.
“This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years. Every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. One is very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple’s been very fortunate. It’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world.”
By calling the audience’s attention to the fact that Apple has already revolutionized technology a number of times, Jobs gets their attention by promising that another revolutionary product is about to be unveiled.
“The most advanced phones are called smartphones… The problem is that they’re not so smart and they’re not so easy to use.”
Jobs shows the audience pictures of existing smartphones, which had clunky plastic keyboards and styluses at the time. He explains how their UIs weren’t intuitive, and updating them was a struggle because of their hardware. He established a need for a better smartphone — one that was actually smart and easy to use.
Throughout much of the presentation, Jobs explained why Apple’s new iPhone was different and better.
It used a multi-touch touchscreen, a revolutionary new piece of technology that eliminated plastic keyboards and allowed users to use their fingers instead of a stylus.
It used software that was based on Apple’s desktop OS, making it intuitive and easy-to-use.
And it combined three things that customers wanted in a portable device in that year: a music player, a phone, and an internet device that they could use to surf and check emails.
“It’s at least five years ahead of any other phone.”
Jobs already knows that by explaining the features of the iPhone, he’s going to command the attention of his audience. But he helps them visualize how important this new piece of technology is by dropping this line: “It’s at least five years ahead of any other phone.”
In other words, you can wait five years to have a tool this good, or you can have it right now with an iPhone.
Unfortunately, that YouTube clip cuts off before the end of Jobs’ speech where he calls his audience to action. But we know what came next. The iPhone became ubiquitous, and today, millions of customers use them because of their cutting-edge technology and user-friendly interface.
Despite his reputation for being an incredible public speaker, any of us can be like Steve Jobs. He simply knew how to arrange a speech to capture his audience and sell them on his idea. With Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, you can do the same.
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