A few weeks ago I was in California helping Apple sell its iPad 2 to SMBs. That’s right, a storage guy was chosen by Apple to shoot a few video promos for their new, smaller, faster tablet. I was even used as a hand model to demonstrate the apps we use in business (probably my first and last shot at modeling).
I didn’t get paid to do it, although the company did fly me out to the Bay Area (which I took advantage of by scheduling meetings with my venture partners) and put me up in Union Square.
Why would I spend the time pitching some other company’s product? Well, as we all know iPads are cool. My kids love them, my department can’t get enough of them and my entire sales team uses them to help sell our storage solutions.
The iPad is what I call a social presentation tool. It’s not formal like a laptop and not awkward like a carry-on white board. While in London this week, I sat down over a pint with some analysts and used the iPad to show a video, product collateral and our standard presentation–all while sitting in a casual setting with the device in my right hand and pointing to things with my left.
The audience really paid attention. I even waved the presentation in the air for extra effect, and handed it around to the folks sitting on the couch for a better look. One of them pinched the screen intuitively to expand an image he was having a hard time seeing.
The other looked on, nodding. The point is, he was looking. If I had used a laptop, the two of them would have wandered around the building with their eyes and imagination; the presentation gaining about as much interest as the unlighted candle on the table.
Sociologists will one day study the iPad’s effect on meetings. I think it’s significant, but I don’t know why. People simply pay attention more when I use it. It’s as if data storage suddenly looks dead sexy when viewed on the awesome display.
I also think that the human element is re-introduced to presentations. Because you can sit in a casual, open body position, the presenter seems more approachable than if a laptop sat on a table for all to hover around.
The elegance of the product also plays a part. It has no keyboard and the screen is incredibly clear. When Keynote is presenting on the iPad, no other distractions exist. There are no dirty keys with Cheetos crumbs stuffed between the “f” and the “g” characters. Typical Windows distractions (like the numerous anti-virus notices that pop-up) are gone.
It’s just you and your message. It’s so elegant, it’s almost primitive and takes us back to the basic, sophisticated nuances of interpersonal communication that PowerPoint and laptops couldn’t afford.