How to Rock your next software demonstration!!!
If you’re an IT professional or are responsible for demonstrating software to end users, team members or top level executives, your demonstration is your time to shine! After 20+ years of demonstrating and coaching people to demo software, I’ve learned a secret. It’s not the software that makes your solution look good; it’s your presentation skills. I’m guessing you have not had direct coaching so here a few simple software demonstration tips that will help you rock it.
- Know Your Audience – Prior to the demonstration, find out who will be in the room and try to discover where they stand. Many people feel threatened by a new solution, thinking it will replace them. Or, maybe you have executives in the room and they want to focus on how this will make or save the company money. You may have to go ask around to get an understanding of the audience’s preconceived notions. The next step is to review the personality types and their knowledge of technology. If you have a CFO attending who appears to have ADD, you need to present and talk at their speed, which means superfast. If you drone on, you will lose them in the first 5 minutes.
- Tell a Story – Your job as the presenter is to entertain and educate. Think of yourself as a tour guide; you want to tell the story, “A day in the life”. I recommend you set the stage by briefly reviewing the current process and how much time is spent on it. Also, mention the risk of having inaccurate information due to the manual nature of the process. Then, walk them through the solution. Make sure you keep it simple. You mother should be able to understand it. When explaining complex topics, leverage memorable analogies.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – You wouldn’t wear a t-shirt and shorts to a demonstration with the CFO would you? No, you want to look good. The best way to look good is to practice, a lot. I suggest you record your practice sessions and listen to yourself. I know this can be painful, but you will improve drastically when you hear how much you “UM”. You should also think about what questions will be asked and practice answering the tough questions.
- Have a Backup Plan – I am shocked that even seasoned presales people often fail to have a backup plan to deal with last minute disasters, such as the server goes down, the laptop crashes, or your plane is stuck on the tarmac. When disaster strikes, people will be closely observing how you handle it. My recommendation is that, prior to the demo, take screen shots of your presentation and put them in a PowerPoint deck. Send the deck to a team member who will be present and ask them to bring their laptop to the meeting, just in case. This will allow you to quickly recover by demoing off the deck and not wasting people’s precious time. In the event you don’t need the deck, you will want to send the deck to the attendees with notes as a reminder of the solution you presented.
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