Dan Newcome on technology

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10 Reactions to DEMO 09 presentations

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LaunchBox demo days are coming up, and to get into the demo spirit, what better way to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t than to watch other demos?  I took some time to watch some of the demos given at the DEMO 2009 conference.

I came up with a list of 10 takeaways that I got from watching the videos:

1. Prepare the script ahead of time. The risk of repeating yourself is too high.  When describing the Vue wireless camera, the woman in the video freewheeled by repeating the same features several times.  Not only is this distracting, it wastes valuable time in a short demo like this.

2. Don’t vamp too much. The message needs to be crystal clear.  This is somewhat related to the first point in that preparing the script well should allow you to clearly articulate all of the points that you are trying to make in the presentation without filling time with chatter that conveys little meaningful information.

3. Don’t go into too many details. In such a short demo, listing every detail about the product serves only to distract the audience from the main product and market focus points that you need to get across to make an impact.

4. Come up with some meaningful examples to use in your demo. One of the presentations sent messages like ”DEMO is the greatest” during their demo.  You miss out on the opportunity to make a better connection with the audience by making the examples align with the story that you are telling.

5. Contrived acting scenes can go badly. Good ones can help tell your story.  During the demo for Touchbook, the touchscreen netbook, the two presenters engaged in a mock question-and-answer routine that belabored some trivial points about netbook computers.  This did very little for me in terms of feeling a connection to what they were trying to achieve.  This contrasted sharply with the 7 Billion People presentation where the presenters set the stage for their product demo by introducing their personal similarities and differences before demonstrating that the product could tailor their shopping experiences accordingly.

6. Your product needs an identity. If it does too many things you lose the audience focus.  I almost didn’t include this because it follows from point number 3 that too many extraneous details detracts from your message, but I think that it deserves special note since establishing an identity with the product made me gloss over some other shortcomings in the presentation.

7. Spend enough time at the beginning of the presentation to frame the problem before getting to the demo. The demos that I felt flowed the best usually spend 1:30 to 1:45 setting the stage and introducing the problem.  Getting to the demo too quickly felt a bit disorienting without enough supporting context.

8. Be careful about playing videos during the presentation. Qualcomm played a technical description video that really broke the feel of the presentation.  The presenter was just starting to connect with the audience and playing the video seemed to break that connection.

9. Spend time on what makes the product different. Don’t waste too much time on demonstrating feature parity.  This goes along with the third point about too many details.  The best demos went into laser focus on the most relevant product details to cement their identity with the audience.

10.  Make sure the demo is ready to go. The transition time here is critical to keeping the flow of the presentation.  10 seconds spent walking over to the demo station and getting the first page up seems like an eternity.

Reading back through these points, it looks like I focused on the negative more than I had planned for this post.  Maybe in a follow-up post I will try to give things a different spin.

Written by newcome

July 17, 2009 at 9:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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