This is the 1st of 5 blog posts in a series about giving a great software demo.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve given So Many Demos. Seriously. I demoed social media monitoring to a secret government agency once – and I have (classified!) photos to prove it. I demoed for Parker Harris. I demoed for 200, 500, 1000, 3000+ people at Salesforce events.
I had demos that went unexpectedly well (“Let’s see if this works….” … “oh hey, it does!”) and demos that-I-swear-worked-2-minutes-ago that totally bombed. In front of my new manager. I did impromptu demos, in-person demos, video demos, and online demos where halfway through it turned out no one else could see my screen.
… I’ve learned a few things about demoing — sadly, most of them the hard way ;)
SO: you’ve got an amazing demo! (ok, maybe not SO amazing ;) You have an audience! You have a time! You know the product!!
…. and you want to look like an expert when you give it, so people will buy what you’re selling.
- GO SLOWLY. Speed is the #1 demo killer. It’s much better to give a fantastic 2/3 of a demo (and leave them wantingmore!), then to whip through it with time to spare, and look up to a lost audience checking their smartphones instead.
- Keep clicks & scrolls to a minimum: Remember: You’ve seen this page a million times. This is the first time your audience is looking at it. The more you click, the more mental effort they spend understanding where you’re going, instead of what they’re looking at. Scroll and stop. Click and talk.
- Ask for feedback: “Any thoughts on this page?” – keeps people engaged & if they’re lost, you find out early and can fix it.
- Give a guided tour of the page: If there’s a lot of text on the page (standard Salesforce!), or if this is new to the audience, giving a quick tour helps anchor them for the rest of the demo.
IE: “These tabs at the top tell you what kind of information you’re looking at. Here on the left are your recent items…”
- DO explain your users: If you’re telling a story (see my next post!), DO take the time to introduce your users & their motives (as related to the demo), before you do any clicking.
- If something goes wrong: DON’T PANIC – if the feature doesn’t load, say “here’s what’s supposed to happen here…” – just describe it, and keep on going.
- See something wrong? Don’t say anything! Do remember it so you can fix it later (if necessary) – but odds are, if you don’t call it out (“We were supposed to fix the font on this page…”), most people won’t notice the issue anyway.
- Leave some wiggle room: If you have an engaged audience & they ask questions (good!), your demo can take 50% – or more – longer than the practice runthrough. Make sure you book no more than 15 minutes of demo for a half hour session.
… Good Luck!