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How to Best Prepare for a Keynote Demo

How to Best Prepare for a Keynote Demo

Imagine, in three weeks, the VP of your product group will be standing in front of hundreds, maybe thousands of people to present a keynote demo of your latest technology. A successful keynote demo means that the world is buzzing about your product, while failure means the audience is snickering at how a screen froze or your VP got lost on what to click next.

Deep breath.  You’re going to enable an amazing keynote demo. Here’s how.


Write a Great Story

Showing off your product should be like telling a good story. Any sales demos will follow a basic three-act structure:

  • What is a problem your customers can relate to?
  • How could this problem be solved?
  • Here’s a product that can solve it and how.

Getting to the great story is not about forcing all your favorite bells and whistles into your demo. The story should flow easily, naturally, as though the end conclusion is the most obvious—yet delightfully surprising—point in the world. OF COURSE your product solves this key need—isn’t that amazing??

Before you touch anything technical, make sure your story will wow your customers, including at least one moment where your audience will applaud: not for you, but for the problem you are solving for them.

Prepping Your Devices and Environment for Your Keynote Demo 

However you choose to show off your product, be prepared for unique technical challenges. Technology works great when we are just sitting at our desks, but the most creatively frustrating hiccups can occur when giving a keynote demo.

Start by mapping out all the devices that you need to give the keynote demo. Then get two more of these for backup. Make sure you have not only the right power cords for each, but that you have the right connector cords for whatever they will plug into for the demo. Don’t know exactly what you need? Bring all of them.

Walk through the demo on the devices to ensure that all necessary configurations have been made. Then do it again. Once you’re able to go through it flawlessly, give it to someone else. If they can do it flawlessly, you’re in good shape.

Trust us: investing a lot of time in prep is infinitely better than waiting for things to go wrong during your keynote demo.

Allow Your Keynote Presenter to be Comfortable

The person giving the keynote address has a fun job, but it can also be terrifying. Often, they need to tweak the keynote demo for it to flow well for them, so that they can connect better with the audience. Don’t be afraid to make those changes, but also push back when it puts the technical stability of the demo at risk. Good communication both ways will allow your presenter to feel like they have the right story to tell.

Be ready with cue cards (preferably on a hidden video screen) that your presenter can go to if they get in a jam. Knowing that they are there, even if never used, is a wonderful security blanket. These cards can also be used to prompt your presenter on time remaining, or to get them to slow down/speed up, or just a friendly, “You’re doing awesome.”

Lastly, make the presenter run through the keynote demo with the devices. Ideally, they would practice a few times, but if they are winging it, watch them walk through the whole demo once so that the screens and steps are familiar.


Be Ready for What Can Go Wrong

Wherever your event is, get those brilliantly prepared devices there safely. Keep them in your possession always, unless someone dedicated is willing to take on that risk. Having all your devices, cords and other accessories there and ready is half the battle. Trust us: batteries die, cords get lost, WIFI goes down. Be ready.

Some events have a sophisticated backstage setup where you can plug in a backup device, follow along with your presenter, and switch immediately in the event of something going wrong with the primary device. If that’s available, use it! We have saved so many keynote demos by being attentive and ready to switch, and it has been very rare that the audience (and even the presenter) have even noticed.

If such a setup is not available, then make sure your presenter has the backup device and can switch over. This may mean you waiting in the front row following along.  Or it could mean the presenter needs to do it themselves and make a few clicks to resume. While this may be an unfortunate interruption, you’ll still look good for coolly and calmly navigating around the Blue Screen of Death, or whatever technical glitch that comes your way.

With that, we wish you good luck at your next keynote demo! You’re going to be amazing.

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