The thin red line

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised the United Nations General Assembly by drawing a red line on a sheet of paper, to make a statement about Iran’s nuclear program (watch the video on YouTube). Some bad tongues even say he needed this “special effect” to re-catch the audience’s attention after a rather boring speech by his Slovenian colleague.

This reminds me of another memorable example of a public speaker who conjured office stationery to make a point during a presentation.

In his MacWorld 2008 keynote, the late Steve Jobs presented the world’s thinnest notebook, the MacBook Air.  The Apple CEO introduced the new product with a photo of an envelope, told the audience that the MacBook was “so thin that it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office,” and then pulled up and opened a real envelope that contained the new, ultra-thin laptop computer. (watch the video on YouTube).

Sometimes there’s a thin line between a good and a great presenter. Steve Jobs has always been on the right side of it. I don’t want to make any (politically correct or incorrect) statement here about the content of Mr. Netanyahu’s UN address or about his overall capabilities as a public speaker (he is neither on my list of favorite foreign politicians nor on my list of favorite speakers), but yesterday’s performance made him cross that line too.