Apple’s WWDC ’21: A Lesson In Storytelling

On June 7th over 4.8M people watched WWDC ’21. A spectacular two-hour, power-packed, insight-filled presentation into what’s coming up in the Apple ecosystem in 2021 and beyond.

Here are 6 storytelling techniques I picked up from WWDC ’21, sharing them here so you too can take a leaf from Apple’s storytelling techniques, and implement them in our lives to tell better stories.

Let’s learn together.

Technique #1: Hook, Engage, Enthrall

Opening your story is the most critical aspect of the entire piece. Open right and you have demanded your audience’s attention.

Apple did this by bringing in real human faces to open the biggest event of 2021. They shined a light on their developers whose task was to come up with their best ideas on ‘how to open’ this event.

It starts off with a cinematic approach suggestion, then moved into a comical version, then a thought-provoking snippet, and finally ending with a musical about bugs.

They’ve had us hooked. It was like a story in a story in a story. Which one was your favourite?

They had my attention as I was mentally picking out which story I liked better (even though my opinion did not matter)

Now, for the curtain-raiser:

Welcome to WWDC.

Technique #2: Build a two-way relationship with your audience

“Your creativity and groundbreaking apps continues to deliver new and meaningful ways to enrich people’s lifes”

“It was exciting to have so many people join us and see the impact it had on new Apple developers”

— Tim Cook

Notice the language here. Notice the sentence length.

Your audience and the story are at most 6 feet apart, how do you bring them 1 foot apart? — By using words such as you, your, us and backing it up with how you (the audience) played a role in the larger picture. Show them they belong.

Apple took us on a journey with them, without complicating it. Complicating this can come off as patronizing — which is exactly what you want to steer far away from.

The 4C’s — Clear, concise, compelling and credible.

When you use the 4C formula, you are putting your ideas forth, while also buying audience attention from their busy lives.

We all could have been doing something else with our time than watching WWDC, but we were hooked. Weren’t we?

Notice what I did there. I ended the sentence with a question. By asking you a question, I’m forcing you to think of an answer — thereby building a relationship with you.

Moving on

Technique #3: Build authority with powerful statements

“We’re committed to being a force for change, as we seek to make the world a better place full of opportunity for all of us” — Tim Cook

As a storyteller/narrator of the story — you need to demand attention, and the way to do it is by being assertive and powerful. Being powerful shows you have something worthwhile to say, and in this case, it’s Apple — of course they’re going to say something of value.

That one line caught my attention and sparked the idea for this entire impromptu article. Really. I was awe-struck.

When writing your own story, you need to pack a couple of punches right in the beginning to grab attention and make the reader keep reading.

Some ways that you can do this with ease are:

  1. Share a never-heard-before insight into a learning from your experience
  2. Share a scroll-stopping industry statistic
  3. Share a quote from a well-known person in the industry

Number 2 and 3 are Google-able and are sure to grasp your reader’s attention.

Keep packing those punches. Just like Apple did a few seconds later — “Over 200 in-depth sessions and 1:1 with Apple engineers and so much more”

They really do know how to glue you to your couch as they speak!

Technique #4: Start big

“For many of us, our iPhone has become indispensable, and at the heart of iPhone is iOS. iOS powers experiences we’ve come to rely on, and this year we were inspired to create even more meaningful ways for iPhone could help you. Our new feature is iOS 15.”

This piercing insight into how indispensable our phones have become over time harbours enough power to captivate the audience’s attention. Because we all agree, don’t we?

Is your phone 2 cms away from you as you’re reading this? — See.

Now, once you start with the big, provoking insight you need to jump into what the audience is holding their breath for. What are you going to do with this insight?

And Apple did this by diving into each feature with a relatable anecdote.

  • Stay connected with face to face interaction and video calls that bring joy — Facetime
  • The struggle of staying focused as our attention is being pulled in so many directions making it difficult to balance work : life — Notifications summary. (Watch this at 18:57)

Are you still here with me? — Good. Read on :)

Technique #5: The “exclusive” offers

  1. Set the stage
  2. Make the connections
  3. Offer the special item
  4. Be transparent about what the offer entails
  5. End the narrative to build anticipation

Exclusive offers are a great way to make your listener/reader feel special for investing their time in your webinar/article.

The role of exclusivity in storytelling is to sell you the desired dream, give you a special feeling, and leave you with a unique experience.

Did you feel the FOMO kicking in?

The best part is that in this segment, they gave out just enough information about what to expect so no one is left wondering.

Limited beta starting today

Expanding through summer and fall

Xcode Cloud will be available to all developers next year

More details on pricing and availability will be out this fall.

After hearing all this, if you’re a developer, I think you’ve buried yourself under a FOMO-mountain by now! Haven’t you?

That’s the power of exclusivity.

Technique #6: End strong

“I’m so excited for these new releases and how they will make our products even more powerful, and more capable.

They will provide users new ways to enrich their lives and developers new tools to change the world.” — Tim Cook

How you end is just as important as how you start. When you end strong, you leave the viewer/reader with something special to remember you by.

Making the end strong is usually a struggle for everyone, because when you’ve given out everything in the article, what could you say to wrap up?

You could potentially:

Summarize what happened (like Apple did)

Ask a question to spark a discussion

Tell watchers/readers what’s next

There are many ways, neither right, neither wrong.

In conclusion

Alrighty, this is stressful since this is right under an Apple example. Let me give it my best shot!

Thanks for reading till here, and I hope this article inspires you to write, narrate and share value-driven stories.

I would love to know which technique is your favourite amongst these? — Comment below and let’s start chatting!

Let’s geek out!

If you liked what you read, please do reach out and tell me on My Linkedin and if you want to work together, check out my website and let’s get chatting.

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