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Good demos are conversations, not lectures

Have you ever had a demo where the presenter raced through his or her content for 45 minutes straight, wrapped up with a smile, and asked you if you had any questions? If you are like me, you were probably trying to catch up from that one thing 5 minutes into the presentation that you wanted to clarify. Ever since that point, the monologue was drifting in and out of focus. Eventually, you just gave up and started to run through the grocery list you had to pick up on your way home.

Make your demo a conversation

Your demo should be a conversation. It should be loose and fluid. Ensuring your audience is engaged is key! One great way to do that is by asking questions early, and often.

Ideally, if you’ve had time to do your research, you’ll know the important questions to ask. These will most likely be leading questions that you already know the answer to and will help you make your point. i.e., “Amy, would you share more about pain point x and what it cost you last year?” Having done your research, and probably already having asked Amy that question, you know exactly what she’s going to say. It’s the perfect segue to show how your product resolves pain point x and will save the company in the coming year. 

However, you may not have been lucky enough to have had the time to research this particular prospect. If so, then questions are even more important. I sometimes start with a few such as;

  • “Who can give me an example of a challenges/problems you want to address with this software?” 
  • “What are your biggest concerns about this software acquisition process?”
  • “What are you hoping to get out of the demo today?” (Although frequently, the answer is a generic one about “getting a good overview of your software.”)

If the group is impatient, I’ll point out that the software is very large and has many different features. I want to be sure I focus on the aspects of the product that best fits their needs.

Note that all of these are Open Ended Questions. I try to avoid closed-ended questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.” The goal is to get the audience sharing their goals, concerns, and issues that they want to be addressed.

Actively engaged people remember more

Just as important, once you get started, a great way to keep your audience engaged is by interacting with them directly and meaningfully. This does not mean giving them a pop quiz about what you just showed. Instead, try your best to interact with a more meaningful business, or even personal, level. Examples might be:

  • “Bob, how much time do you see this saving your team this year?”
  • “Peggy, based on your team’s need to up production by x percent next half, I’d like to walk you through…”

The phrase, “People support what they help create,” is often applied to organizational motivation and change. It is just as true in the demo world. If people are actively involved with the demo, they are in essence, helping to create the demo. They will be more inclined to internalize your messaging and be better positioned to consider your solution as the resolution to the issues that you and they discussed together.

By pausing and giving them opportunities to internalize the concepts you are sharing, you dramatically help their engagement and likelihood of visualizing themselves, and their teams, using your product.

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