Worktank’s Executive Producer and “demo whisperer” Chris Powell shares best practices for delivering a successful product demo, whether in front of a live audience or a video camera.
Pre-Record Your Demo
Let me lead with my best advice: don’t do a demo live if you can help it.
For most live demos, there’s too much at stake. Whether it’s a make-or-break product demo to woo customers or a new business strategy to ignite your sales force, the pressure is real. Nothing is as painful as watching a demo bomb. And trust me, a pre-recorded demo will never fail. A pre-recorded demo allows you to follow a script with as many takes as you need. Even with mishaps, you can edit your way out of gaffes or a not-ready-for-primetime presentation.
Here are pro tips on how to pre-record your demo, while still giving your audience the look and feel of a live experience.
- Select a screen capture software that works best for your product or setup. We recommend Microsoft Teams, Camtasia or Bandicam, all of which are available as a trial so you can immediately see what works best for you.
- Set up your screen area and record with the same gear that you will use on show day.
- Wear the same wardrobe and record at the same time of day as your live session to match the light in your office environment and sell the as-live effect.
- Rehearse your presentation with the pre-recorded demo segment so that it’s a seamless shift from live to recorded then back to live.
If You Must Do a Live Demo
As the demo driver, you’re often unable to set the timing around software or product readiness, so if there are delays that prohibit your ability to pre-record, follow these pro tips to keep your demo smooth and professional.
- Be a clear and firm leader with the IT and product team. Make sure key stakeholders understand that they are as responsible for creating a strong and stable demo as you are. It’s a team effort.
- Clearly and broadly communicate your workback schedule and hard deadlines. Get commitments from stakeholders that the demo environment will be ready and locked ahead of your demo day.
- Make sure you understand what data is being shown in the demo, and always use legal-safe “demo data.” For example, you don’t want a demo – that took a large team days to build and rehearse – immediately rendered useless for future events and viewings because it features live customer data. Invest in creating fictitious scenarios so your demo has a life after your presentation.
- Get an “all clear” from your IT and product team ahead of the live demo to ensure the environment is stable without updates or changes being pushed while you’re presenting.
- Celebrate the product team and emphasize that your demo reflects months or even years of hard work and development. Your demo is a banner achievement and a proud moment for all.
- Finally, never “wing it.” Be scripted, rehearsed and ready-ready. Knowing the demo inside and out will boost your confidence and, in turn, convey confidence behind the product and company you represent.
Prepare for the Worst-Case Scenario
Skydivers jump out of a plane with multiple redundancies in the event their parachute doesn’t deploy. So, what cord will you pull in the event your demo fails? Worktank recommends three backup options, so if the demo falls apart, you’re not stammering excuses and sweating on stage. Ninety percent of the time, you won’t need your backup, but having options will ease your anxiety before going in front of an audience.
- Create a click-through demo in PowerPoint as your chief backup. If the live demo fails, simply acknowledge you’re working in a live environment and seamlessly shift to the slide show to highlight the demo’s key points.
- Prepare a backup computer that you can quickly log into, and switch inputs with the help of your event producer in case of a demo freeze.
- Promise a follow-up video demo to your audience, and be prepared to deliver it ASAP.
Remember, getting real-time feedback and feeling the buzz and excitement of your demo is one of the most rewarding experiences for presenters (and the team behind the product). Your audience arrives with a lot of goodwill – they want to see you succeed. They are in their seats because they genuinely want to understand the product and get your expert insights.
Winning Product Demos Start with Worktank
Presenting, especially in front of a camera, is not something that comes easily for most people. Even the best, most high-profile leaders and presenters need preparation, practice, and a little help from the professionals. In fact, our producers have worked with everyone from U.S. Army Generals to executives from Fortune 100 companies.