What if you could know the storytelling secret Steve Jobs used to help build Apple and make his presentations must-see events?
Now you can.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” Steve Jobs
“There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise,’ and yet many pictures continually confuse the two.” Alfred Hitchcock
BRANDS AND THE VITAL STORYTELLING SECRET OF BUILDING SUSPENSE
To appreciate this fully, here’s the full quote from Alfred Hitchcock:
“There is a distinct difference between ‘suspense’ and ‘surprise,’ and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.
“We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us.
“Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, ‘Boom!’
“There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence.
“Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there.
The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one.
In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: ‘You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!’
“In the first case, we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second, we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense.”
STEVE JOBS USED THIS STORYTELLING SECRET TO BUILD AN EMPIRE
Too many brands today merely have the occasional surprise but fail to build (and keep us in) suspense.
Steve Jobs was a master at this.
We all knew he was taking us on a journey during one of his legendary keynote presentations.
While he would occasionally surprise us with a feature or two or more, there would always be the suspense, whether it was a build-up or his now-famous “one more thing” at the tail end of his presentations (which we all came to know, admire, and look forward to).
It was like we were all in on the joke because we knew it was coming. That is the power of great storytelling.
THE 4-STEP STEVE JOBS CHECKLIST FOR BUILDING SUSPENSE WITH YOUR STORYTELLING
How to use this for your business and building your brand?
- Have a storyline for your brand: a hero, a villain, and a goal worth living for (or dying for).
- Have everything appear as we all expect it to be.
- Now, introduce some “hiding-in-plain-sight” potential danger or threat that, if ignored, will derail the whole thing. It needs to be something that people are oblivious to, something we are now all aware of that is not yet detected by those who should know. (This is likely your villain to your audience’s aspirations, hopes, goals, dreams, something that your audience now wants to eliminate or overcome.)
- Save the day by offering “the weapon or superpower or device” that will overcome or eliminate the threat. But don’t rush it, let the “ignored solution” mount suspense, mounting tension between “inevitable doom” and “will we be saved?”
Use this checklist to build suspense and not merely present some little surprise that the amateur will do because they’re too much in a rush to get to the punchline.
Alfred Hitchcock built a legion of moviegoers who loved this building of suspense and craved it.
And Steve Jobs built a brand and a company that flocked to his presentations with the same allegiance and anticipation.
This is something you can achieve as well.