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Team members behind the scenes at a large keynote.

Sharpies behind the scenes at a large keynote.

You can often find a Sharpie behind the scenes of large event keynotes helping to ensure the live demonstrations go off without a hitch. We recently asked our team of demo wizards for their behind-the-curtain secrets to keep demos running smooth. Here are their top 5 tips:

1. Practice

This may seem like a given for anyone planning a keynote or live demo but we recommend taking your practice to the extreme. Just when you think you have practiced enough, run through your presentation three more times. Not only do you want to get familiar with the flow of your presentation and ensure you have the right ratio of demo and story, but you want to make sure you are familiar with the areas of the demo where there might be risk for something to go awry.

Typically, a demo ebbs and flows. There are WOW moments and there are times where clicks are required just to transition. Becoming uber-familiar with the flow of each demo ensures you are comfortable enough to get through any timing issues and keep your audience engaged.

2. Prepare and Plan

For any live demo (especially those at conferences or events), you must prepare and plan ahead. If you are showing at an event, engage the production crew early to address the specific needs of your demo.

Think about things like:

  • Do you have enough connections to support all the devices in your demo?
  • Is the internet connection broad enough for your needs?
  • Do you need to plan specifically for wired or wireless connections?
  • Are there any room layout changes needed?
  • Is there enough space on the podium for all of your devices?

Also, put together a full plan for your demo prep including rehearsal time, setup, and tech checks. We always try to have a dress-rehearsal on the days leading up to the demo to ensure we have accounted for any location-specific challenges. And don’t forget, on the day of your demo, you may be following a previous speaker who needed a different configuration. When planning ahead, you can make sure you are aware of exactly when you will have access to begin setting up your own configuration.

3. Double-triple Check

It is 100% ok to be paranoid and obsessed with your demo.

The devil is in the details when it comes to live demos and that one thing your forgot to check will definitely backfire once you are live. More often than not, you will be one piece of a very large effort to produce an event. When there are so many moving pieces you have a very good chance that something will be overlooked. Don’t be afraid to double check your connections (even if the A/V guys swear they already did it) and ensure you have what you need and it is operating as expected.

4. Fix it or Forget it

If you have ever given a live demo, you know that there are times when the demo gods are just not on your side. Technology can be a fickle thing and we often have to make the call in the heat of the moment to address an issue or just keep going.

In some scenarios, generally for smaller or tech-friendly crowds, if a demo doesn’t work it’s okay to troubleshoot and get it working. The audience can learn a lot from watching how you problem-solve within the technology. However, for less tech-friendly audiences or big crowds, this can distract from your overall message and you need to just move on swiftly.

In either case, don’t dwell on an issue that occurs, over apologize or say “well it worked earlier…”, your confidence in your demo drives your audience’s confidence in your product.

5. Expect the Unexpected

Be ready to solve problems.

We always come armed with our demo first-aid kits: back-up devices, every possible type of dongle for connecting devices, extra network cables, batteries, thumb drives, power banks, whatever we may need when we get to the venue and something is missing or just plain doesn’t work. For larger events, we also make sure we have our little black books loaded with the right contacts to quickly resolve issues on-site, including product engineers, backup resources for last minute environment changes, and anyone on the ground from A/V to IT.

Whether you are a seasoned presenter or embarking on your very first adventure, taking heed of these top 5 from our demo wizards will help make you more comfortable presenting live. Stick with us through this series to explore each recommendation in more detail, hear stories of sweeping successes and dreaded fumbles, and above all, learn from our experience. We are happy to share our expertise in the hopes of making your next demo presentation stand out from the crowd.

Our demo wizards have seen it all. Stay tuned for more in this series!

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