Educating, Impressing, and Inspiring Demos

July 26, 2011

Chapter 11 – Remote Presentations

A software demo is a special type of presentation. Instead of slides, this presentation is organized around a piece of software. The first goal of a good software demo is to educate your audience. You have something they probably haven’t seen before and you need to let them know what it is and how it works. While you are educating them you also want to impress them with good-looking software. The final step is to inspire them. When you show executives a prototype the goal is to inspire them. Make them believe in the potential of your project. When you show the finished product to your customers you want to nurture the understanding that this software will solve their problems.

Inspiring your audience means more than just showing them functionality. If you are showing a dialog box, don’t just click through the dialog; talk about what it means and why they should care. You have to put everything into context. Talk about why you made the changes or added the features that you did. How will these features be used? Why will your customers care about them?

Create a demo script. You don’t have to map out every minute, but you should have at least a general understanding of what you want to say.

Stabilize your software. Don’t fix bugs or upgrade your system an hour before your demo. Create a stable working environment for your presentation, and then leave it alone.

Know your audience. Don’t show code to the head of marketing or APIs to a business manager. Make sure you show the right material to the right people.

Drive your own demo. As for any remote presentation, you need to be in control of your software when giving a remote software demonstration. Use a desktop sharing program so you can control the software while you are speaking.

Practice all presentations ahead of time. In many ways a presentation is like a play; all plays have rehearsals. Go through your entire presentation at least once before you give it. Look at every slide. Try every feature you are going to show. When you present in front of your audience make every movement with practiced ease.

Practice using the presentation software as well. If you are using a desktop sharing program then rehearse with it. Set up a small conference and present to a second computer. Using one computer to drive your presentation and one to watch it will let you know how your audience feels. It is a chance to sit in the audience of your presentation. This small conference is your opportunity to learn the software. Never use any tool for the first time in front of an audience.

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