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CNBC Calls Google Presenter a Johnson. Was that fair?

How important is the launch of a new product? Important enough to plan, rehearse, and script something comprehensible?

On CNBC, the newscasters compare today’s Google Nexus One launch with the iPhone launch Steve Jobs hosted just two short years ago. Here’s the clip, scroll forward to 3:44.

Steve Jobs definitely plans and rehearses more than this guy did. This old article in the Guardian states that Steve Jobs spends weeks planning a presentation and almost two full days rehearsing it.

The newscaster comments the slides were so bad he thought they were done on an old overhead projector, which isn’t true. It was the delivery that was bad.

In defense of well designed slides, I thought the launch presentation was lovely. We didn’t create these slides but I sure wish we had. They’re beautiful. And the Boy Genius Report did a great job capturing images of the slides that were projected. Lovely.

Google15

So I can go on long rants about how spending time on attractive slides is a waste of time if you don’t have anything to good to say. The newscasters came across like the entire presentation was a disaster. Now, there are times when presenters try to camouflage their lack of content by creating attractive slides. They are trying to disguise their lack of preparation and inferior insights with making things look attractive. At times the audience is so thrilled to be given visual breathing room it lures them into thinking that the content was actually okay when it was either poor or non-existent.

However, I don’t think that is the case with this launch presentation. I think the poor guy just didn’t practice. It was a big day, with big stakes and well… he shoulda known better. The press picked up on his foible and I hope he catches a break.

My advice to the guy? Practice, practice, practice.

Nancy Duarte

AUTHOR |

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  • Nancy: I don’t think it was that one flub that earned the ridicule. I thought the presentation itself was boring and soulless. The presenters came across like the stereotype of consultants: highly polished and so full of jargon that they don’t actually say anything. What a terrible way to launch such an exciting new product.

    And I don’t think preparation was the only answer here. A good presenter with soul could have done a better job with no preparation at all. You just have to be comfortable as a person rather than as a business drone.

  • Nancy: I don’t think it was that one flub that earned the ridicule. I thought the presentation itself was boring and soulless. The presenters came across like the stereotype of consultants: highly polished and so full of jargon that they don’t actually say anything. What a terrible way to launch such an exciting new product.

    And I don’t think preparation was the only answer here. A good presenter with soul could have done a better job with no preparation at all. You just have to be comfortable as a person rather than as a business drone.

  • Ed

    I am surprised that Google of all companies would do such a mediocre job on a presentation. Let’s be honest the presentation didn’t seem awful, however it also didn’t seem like the sort of presentation that sets the tone for the launch of an iPhone beater.

    I also can’t believe they used such a lousy screen/projector, everything was far too washed out by the lights in the room. Maybe we have seen Google’s one weakness?

    (Lets not be too harsh though, Steve jobs has also presented at crappy venues when launching products http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20080418/Apple_iPhone_launch_event_UK_ZDnet.jpg – here at the UK launch of the iPhone)

    Love the blog, keep up the fantastic work!

  • Ed

    I am surprised that Google of all companies would do such a mediocre job on a presentation. Let’s be honest the presentation didn’t seem awful, however it also didn’t seem like the sort of presentation that sets the tone for the launch of an iPhone beater.

    I also can’t believe they used such a lousy screen/projector, everything was far too washed out by the lights in the room. Maybe we have seen Google’s one weakness?

    (Lets not be too harsh though, Steve jobs has also presented at crappy venues when launching products http://news.cnet.com/i/bto/20080418/Apple_iPhone_launch_event_UK_ZDnet.jpg – here at the UK launch of the iPhone)

    Love the blog, keep up the fantastic work!

  • @Ed. Nice pic. Shows Steve isnt always as slick as everyone makes him up to be.

    Side note: Does he always grow a mustache when he’s over there in the UK? Maybe that’s his European persona, or maybe a really sloppy body double 😉

  • @Ed. Nice pic. Shows Steve isnt always as slick as everyone makes him up to be.

    Side note: Does he always grow a mustache when he’s over there in the UK? Maybe that’s his European persona, or maybe a really sloppy body double 😉

  • Great find Nancy! This is wonderfully awful!

    My guess is that the amount/time of preparation wasn’t the problem…it was HOW he prepared! (Which, unfortunately, is WAY too common.)

    Likely spent all his time studying the market opportunity, adoption rates, features/benefits, competitive landscape, and perfecting the business abstractions.

    What he shoulda/coulda/woulda done:
    1. Get out of the weeds and focus on THE ONE thing, aka “The Lead of the Story.”

    2. Add something (actually, anything) compelling. You’ve got to get the listener emotionally and actively engaged. We advocate using SHARPs (Stories, Humor, Analogies, References, Pictures) to help make your message sticky. He “tried” to do this by quoting a dictionary, which conjures up ZERO emotional resonance.

    3. FOCUS on delivery. The falls by the wayside in so many business communications – not just the high stakes presentations. Without showing confidence and passion, he’s not motivating anyone to get that phone.

    Prepping a full analysis now for the Decker blog – stay tuned…

  • Great find Nancy! This is wonderfully awful!

    My guess is that the amount/time of preparation wasn’t the problem…it was HOW he prepared! (Which, unfortunately, is WAY too common.)

    Likely spent all his time studying the market opportunity, adoption rates, features/benefits, competitive landscape, and perfecting the business abstractions.

    What he shoulda/coulda/woulda done:
    1. Get out of the weeds and focus on THE ONE thing, aka “The Lead of the Story.”

    2. Add something (actually, anything) compelling. You’ve got to get the listener emotionally and actively engaged. We advocate using SHARPs (Stories, Humor, Analogies, References, Pictures) to help make your message sticky. He “tried” to do this by quoting a dictionary, which conjures up ZERO emotional resonance.

    3. FOCUS on delivery. The falls by the wayside in so many business communications – not just the high stakes presentations. Without showing confidence and passion, he’s not motivating anyone to get that phone.

    Prepping a full analysis now for the Decker blog – stay tuned…

  • Brian Wingerd

    Interesting question Nancy. Is it fair to call the presenter “a Johnson”? You can sense that they all appear to be Apple / iPhone fans. So naturally they are going to expect the same attention to detail when it comes to a product launch. Especially one that is supposed to rival the iPhone.

    With the stakes as high as they were, yes – I feel it was fair. (sophomoric, but fair)

    I find it fascinating that they spent an equal amount of time dissecting and criticizing the presentation as the product itself. (on a business and investment program)

  • Brian Wingerd

    Interesting question Nancy. Is it fair to call the presenter “a Johnson”? You can sense that they all appear to be Apple / iPhone fans. So naturally they are going to expect the same attention to detail when it comes to a product launch. Especially one that is supposed to rival the iPhone.

    With the stakes as high as they were, yes – I feel it was fair. (sophomoric, but fair)

    I find it fascinating that they spent an equal amount of time dissecting and criticizing the presentation as the product itself. (on a business and investment program)

  • Earl Gray

    That was so very painful to watch. I still feel bad for the guy.

    And about the product? If you don’t care enough to launch it with energy, its hard to imagine anyone expending the energy – and the money – to buy it.

    One word summary: ouch.

  • Earl Gray

    That was so very painful to watch. I still feel bad for the guy.

    And about the product? If you don’t care enough to launch it with energy, its hard to imagine anyone expending the energy – and the money – to buy it.

    One word summary: ouch.

  • James Collins

    Agreed about the weak presentation, but I think it’s just as dismaying that CNBC is so terrible. How can anyone stand the nonstop douchey snark from their talking heads? But apparently lots of people in business have it on all day long. No wonder America has taken its focus off on innovation and let a bloated and stupid financial sector drive the rest of us down.

  • James Collins

    Agreed about the weak presentation, but I think it’s just as dismaying that CNBC is so terrible. How can anyone stand the nonstop douchey snark from their talking heads? But apparently lots of people in business have it on all day long. No wonder America has taken its focus off on innovation and let a bloated and stupid financial sector drive the rest of us down.

  • Yep. Pretty painful both by the presenter and painful dialogue from CNBC.

  • Yep. Pretty painful both by the presenter and painful dialogue from CNBC.

  • Yep. Pretty painful both by the presenter and painful dialogue from CNBC.

  • Thanks for this post Nancy. While I agree with the other comments, I think another aspect needs to be pointed out. It is not an “overhead projector” that is on the table, it is a document camera. This can be a great way to do a live demonstration of a small object. Google just didn’t use it that well. I’ve discussed some suggestions for using document cameras on my blog at http://pptideas.blogspot.com/2010/01/lessons-from-googles-launch-of-nexus.html and some other lessons presenters can learn from this discussion.

  • Thanks for this post Nancy. While I agree with the other comments, I think another aspect needs to be pointed out. It is not an “overhead projector” that is on the table, it is a document camera. This can be a great way to do a live demonstration of a small object. Google just didn’t use it that well. I’ve discussed some suggestions for using document cameras on my blog at http://pptideas.blogspot.com/2010/01/lessons-from-googles-launch-of-nexus.html and some other lessons presenters can learn from this discussion.

  • Thanks for this post Nancy. While I agree with the other comments, I think another aspect needs to be pointed out. It is not an “overhead projector” that is on the table, it is a document camera. This can be a great way to do a live demonstration of a small object. Google just didn’t use it that well. I’ve discussed some suggestions for using document cameras on my blog at http://pptideas.blogspot.com/2010/01/lessons-from-googles-launch-of-nexus.html and some other lessons presenters can learn from this discussion.

  • And you did it again. I have just bought the book and it is going to my shelf near your Slide:ology and Presentation Zen.

    What’s strange with that?

    That I am a lawyer, in Italy, required to love boring documents full of time new roman 10pt text. So don’t tell my partners 😉

  • And you did it again. I have just bought the book and it is going to my shelf near your Slide:ology and Presentation Zen.

    What’s strange with that?

    That I am a lawyer, in Italy, required to love boring documents full of time new roman 10pt text. So don’t tell my partners 😉

  • And you did it again. I have just bought the book and it is going to my shelf near your Slide:ology and Presentation Zen.

    What’s strange with that?

    That I am a lawyer, in Italy, required to love boring documents full of time new roman 10pt text. So don’t tell my partners 😉

  • Russ

    The guy from Piper is a tool. He acts like the NexusOne has no future.

  • Russ

    The guy from Piper is a tool. He acts like the NexusOne has no future.

  • Russ

    The guy from Piper is a tool. He acts like the NexusOne has no future.

  • ben s

    lou is a tool!

  • ben s

    lou is a tool!

  • ben s

    lou is a tool!

  • I think that Google made a huge mistake hear. This was a high shot product launch. And Google’s first attempt in to the hardware market.

    In your Presentation Landscape document (which, by the way Nancy, is awesome – thank you) this was a high stakes product launch and it should have been rehearsed as such.

    The poor guy at the beginning of the presentation began as if it was an internal product launch to his own staff members and not a product launch to the world.

    I agree with Earl Gray – if you do not have enough passion about your own product, then the public are hardly likely to get excited about it either.

  • I think that Google made a huge mistake hear. This was a high shot product launch. And Google’s first attempt in to the hardware market.

    In your Presentation Landscape document (which, by the way Nancy, is awesome – thank you) this was a high stakes product launch and it should have been rehearsed as such.

    The poor guy at the beginning of the presentation began as if it was an internal product launch to his own staff members and not a product launch to the world.

    I agree with Earl Gray – if you do not have enough passion about your own product, then the public are hardly likely to get excited about it either.

  • I think that Google made a huge mistake hear. This was a high shot product launch. And Google’s first attempt in to the hardware market.

    In your Presentation Landscape document (which, by the way Nancy, is awesome – thank you) this was a high stakes product launch and it should have been rehearsed as such.

    The poor guy at the beginning of the presentation began as if it was an internal product launch to his own staff members and not a product launch to the world.

    I agree with Earl Gray – if you do not have enough passion about your own product, then the public are hardly likely to get excited about it either.

  • Of course we’d expect something really “wow” from Google in any event and specially with this launch.
    But the guys in CNBC really behave like moroons,
    showing their ignorance calling “overhead projector” to an obvious “document camera” and worse… mentioning Steve Jobs an his “slick looking POWERPOINT presentation” and finally crossing the line when that “Half Botox(ed) Face” called the presenter a “johnson”… or maybe who knows, he was just recalling his own needs…

  • Of course we’d expect something really “wow” from Google in any event and specially with this launch.
    But the guys in CNBC really behave like moroons,
    showing their ignorance calling “overhead projector” to an obvious “document camera” and worse… mentioning Steve Jobs an his “slick looking POWERPOINT presentation” and finally crossing the line when that “Half Botox(ed) Face” called the presenter a “johnson”… or maybe who knows, he was just recalling his own needs…

  • Of course we’d expect something really “wow” from Google in any event and specially with this launch.
    But the guys in CNBC really behave like moroons,
    showing their ignorance calling “overhead projector” to an obvious “document camera” and worse… mentioning Steve Jobs an his “slick looking POWERPOINT presentation” and finally crossing the line when that “Half Botox(ed) Face” called the presenter a “johnson”… or maybe who knows, he was just recalling his own needs…

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