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Lessons learned from Steve Jobs' way of presenting

Steve Jobs has undoubtedly been a genius in successful product presentations. His charismatic style is a great example for speakers in any setting.

How did he manage to convince his audience of the superior properties of the Apple products even when competitors offered comparable products and services? In establishing a first-ever acoustic profile of Steve Jobs, Oliver Niebuhr and Alexander Brem of SDU Innovation and Design Engineering together with Jana Voße have published an acoustic-prosodic analysis of Steve Jobs tone of voice. The increasingly close interrelation of computers and behavioral characteristics like human speech builds the basis for this unique piece of research. Their article gives specific advice how speakers can improve their charismatic impact, which has direct implications for practice and research alike.

In analyzing about 4000 syllables and 12,000 individual speech sounds from two product presentations, the authors investigate voice pitch, loudness, duration, accents and rhythm and derive that variability is essential for charismatic speech. Short utterances, short pauses, variable and audience-tailored pitch and accent patterns, and the lack of disfluencies lead to a more charismatic tone of voice. Although this study does not take cultural and social dimensions or melodic systems of other languages into account, it builds a solid basis for future research where progress and diversification in the computer-based analysis of human speech behavior will move computers even further to the centre of the speech sciences.

This paper was developed against the background of the PERCY (persuasiveness and creativity) project of the Innovation Research Cluster Alsion (IRCA). More information is available at

The full article titled “What makes a charismatic speaker? A computer-based acoustic-prosodic analysis of Steve Jobs tone of voice” will be published in Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 64, pages 366-382 in November 2016. The paper is available as free full text download until September 6th, 2016 at


Editing was completed: 24.08.2016