Apple’s Victorious Presentation Strategy

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Late last month, a U.S. jury handed down a verdict in the Apple vs. Samsung trial; they found Samsung guilty of infringing on six of seven patents and awarded over $1.05B to Apple. (This is one of seven cases being heard in the US and other countries, and each may lead to different jury or judge decisions.)

From a presentation perspective, understanding what Apple did correctly in presenting its case and what Samsung didn’t do effectively, is useful to anyone who wants to win more often and more easily in a competitive situation. This is especially true when issues are complex and difficult for laymen to understand, as is the case with intellectual-property cases as well as buying decisions concerning science, technology, construction and other feature rich areas.*

Apple told a story that was easy to follow and understand; Samsung did not. Apple’s goal was to convince the jury that Samsung intentionally copied the iconic iPhone and iPad by focusing their attention of how the devices looked – something easy to understand. Apple introduced an internal Samsung report dissecting the iPhone’s “beautiful†design and “easy to copy†hardware – making it clear that Samsung set out to imitate the Apple products. The lawyers used easy-to-understand concepts. They also had credible witnesses who used â€power-words†which trigger emotions and longer recall. For instance, one veteran designer for the company said that Samsung had “ripped off†Apple.

Samsung’s challenge was to demonstrate that Apple wasn’t as innovative as it claimed to be, since it infringed on wireless technology needed to make the iPhone work in the first place. This meant focusing on technical details and fine points of patent law – areas the average layman would not easily grasp. Samsung’s witnesses also were less credible.

Timing always is a challenge in competitive presentations, and this was no different. Apple focused its time on “telling the storyâ€; Samsung used too much of its time cross-examining Apple’s witnesses and arguing over damages; as a result they ran out of time to present the affirmative side of its own case. As one Stanford law professor observed, “Samsung’s patents looked like an afterthought.†With so little time spent on its affirmative patent case, “it left the impression in the mind of the jurors that Samsung was on the defense.â€

In sum, it’s not just what you want say but how you say it, Compelling presentations use our ADAP approach and focus on both. Presentations are Audience-Driven (focusing on what information they need to know now and how it will resonate with them) and Authentic Presentations (credible and trusted). In a competitive situation, what you don’t say can also be damaging, especially if it’s an important part of your competitor’s pitch. Consider all the information the decision-maker will get and contrast your product/service/idea to others to demonstrate that it is the best solution. And when possible, counterpunch your competitors’ weaknesses: if you know that the competition is going to present an inferior proposition, make sure the decision-maker understands the difference between your solution and theirs. This inoculates the buyer from “falling†for the inferior solution, and the competition won’t know what hit them.

*Full Disclosure: I’m especially interested in judicial presentations, and cut my teeth in this setting. While earning my doctorate in psychology, I also attended law school. One of my areas of specialty for both programs was the psychology of attorney presentations and the effectiveness of laws. I later adapted this interest to help other professionals. For the past 25 years, I’ve worked with clients in all sectors of the economy teaching the same issue: how to communicate a complex set of information in a compelling and persuasive manner so the decision-maker will “buy†the solution the client champions.

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