Monday, April 14, 2008

Keys to a Great Software Demo

Last week I did a live demo of the software that I have developed at work to our technical group, engineering managers and application engineers. Instead of tooting myself, let me use my boss's words. I conveniently scheduled the demo in the morning before my quarterly review. wink
  • Your demo was outstanding.
  • You had to overcome a lot of obstacles, switching back and forth from the Powerpoint presentation to the software, handling the instrument, and jumping over the cord to reach inside.
  • Your mix of slides and demo was really good.
  • Bullet points on the slides were nice and short. (I applied the Guy Kawasaki 10/20/30 Rule of Powerpoint).
  • Your pace was really good, everyone remained interested.
  • You were very calm and collected and put everyone at ease.
  • Keep up the great work.
Whew! What seems like calm, collected and professional Angela is actually a nervous wreck for the few days before the demo, especially a few hours beforehand. Of course most of the work was in the preparation and here are key things that made it go smoothly.
  • Rehearse every move in the software so as not to fall into any unknown and potentially buggy areas.
  • Print out your Powerpoint presentation with the Notes view. Once you move away from the presentation and to the software demo, you can't refer to it on your screen any longer. Duh.
  • Use the bullet points in the Powerpoint as a checklist for all the things to demo in the software. This seems obvious, but when you are in the middle of clicking through several features of the software, it may hard to remember every thing that needs to be covered before moving to the next slide.
  • Use the Notes field in Powerpoint to signal when to go to demo. Sometimes I had two slides before a demo, so this was really helpful to maintain the correct order.
  • Test your logistics way ahead of time. You need to set the demo up and test at least one slide's worth, especially when it involves a piece of hardware. In my case, there was a meeting in the room directly before my demo, so I arranged with the other meeting holder to set up the instrument before and leave it in the room during his meeting. This allowed me to place the instrument in a spot that was not in the way of the pull down screen, get a video cable extension, and start right on time. (My video cable extension was not quite long enough as I still had to jump over it during the demo).
  • Watch your time. This is one area which I didn't have a good grasp of beforehand. When I rehearsed the demo, it took around three hours to determine everything to cover (I had a one hour time slot), but I knew it would go faster in the actual demo. There were a few things that I decided to compress as time grew short, but I managed to cover all the key elements. Having a mental list of everything that is essential to include is crucial.
So even though I was completely over-prepared, I was still nervous. Thankfully, all went well and the only glitch was a small hardware one and not in software. cool


Michele @ Frugal Granola said...

Great job! :) Thanks for sharing!
Michele :)

Melissa said...

Good job!

And way to schedule it before a review. Excellent timing!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome - congrats on a successful demo!

Sunshinelene said...

it sounds like you just did a great accomplishment, angela! I can relate when you said that no matter how prepared even over prepared you are for a presentation, still you can't help to feel nervous. i bet you feel weak afterwards - of happiness and too much tension. hehehe

happy TT!

Cromely said...

Those are great comments. Congratulations.

Deb said...

I've done my share of powerpoint presentations (never a 3-hour demo though - wow!) and have to say that these are great tips. Congrats on the great feedback from your boss! :)

Angela said...

OK, I failed to mention that the demo itself was one hour and only the practice was three!

Anonymous said...

Toot-toot! WTG Angela! Thanks for sharing your tips - they will come very handy.