Watched an online demo today. Perhaps few things are tougher than trying to conduct a live (it was live when recorded) demo when you can’t see the audience. No feedback, just talk into the black hole. Still, the principles still apply. I heard such beauts as, “Hopefully this gives you an idea…” (you’re just hoping?) and “I know there’s a way to do this…” (I’m glad you do, ’cause the demo is headed downhill fast, and I know I don’t know). Then there was this particular presenter’s nervous tick where he took the mouse, clicked on the window title, and proceeded to move the windows around. When streamed over the net, the refresh wasn’t fast enough to keep up, and you ended up with a partially rendered window wandering all over the screen. Hardly compelling stuff.The other mistake I see most demo-ers make is to try to demo too much — focusing on content and wanting to show all the features rather than remembering their audience and their needs (RULE #1!). Time and a place for everything — get them in and out, show them the basics and motivate them for more. Leave them wanting more, not sorry they sat through every joy, tittle, and mouse click.And lastly, there is no excuse for a canned demo not to at least be scripted and smooth enough to work. I can handle computer glitches and bugs and crashes, but even Steve Jobs has a script for what he’s going to cover. And he follows it. To the i’T’. For a demo-er to hunt around for the right button and menu is just plain not being prepared and it doesn’t impress your audience. If it’s a question and you don’t know, say so and move on — you’ve a whole audience waiting.

Remember your audience, and demo their needs smoothly and clearly without distraction.

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