Present to Promote: Software Demonstration Skills

Software Presentations to Promote: Increase Your Software Demonstration Skills 

It was the mid-1980’s and I was a teenage girl, working for my father’s software company. He created one of the first software solutions to track the futures market on a real time basis. I knew the basics of the software, but my job was to just build computers and install the software.

It was early morning one summer day and I was returning from my workout when my dad asked me what I was doing that day. This was odd, because he never asked me that before, so I knew something was up.

My response was, “Working…why?”

That’s when, with a funny grin, he said, “I have something else for you to do today. I need you to go downtown and help me out at a tradeshow.  So, go put on a skirt or a dress and we’ll leave in an hour.” 

I  had never been to a tradeshow before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I really didn’t have a choice. A few hours later, I realized I was being thrown to the wolves. I had never demonstrated software and here I was, standing in a very busy booth, showing aggressive future traders what a computer and data could do for them.

Remember, this was the 80’s and this was game changing for the traders. In hindsight, it was game changing for me as well.

I realized that I SUCKED!

That was the beginning of my journey to help empower anyone working with software to give a killer presentation.

Whether you are doing end user training, or demoing to executives, a demonstration is your time to shine. But most of us were never trained in demoing software.

Here are a few pointers:

Your presentation should be a story.

A day in the life of… You are taking your audience on a journey. Before you leave for your journey, you need to assess your skills and assess the needs of your audience.

Know who you are presenting to (their  pain,  journey,  and desired solutions)

Next, you need to design your journey by doing discovery of how they are handling situations today, and what their requirements are. Remember, you want your journey to focus on only the highlights; not everything!

Practice,  practice, practice.

And finally, you need to practice. The more comfortable you are with your story, the more you have it in your muscle memory, and the more natural you will become.

By working hard to prepare and practice for your demonstration skills, you will be successful at promoting your cause and maybe yourself. In a recent survey by Lodestar Solutions, respondents ranked their desire to learn demonstration skills as a 7.29 out of 10. They scored the desire to be a Business Analytics Ambassador at a 7.8 I found this information interesting because I do not believe you will be a successful Business Analytics Ambassador without having top demonstration talent.

The next time you have a presentation, schedule in plenty of time to prepare and tell the story, not the features and functionality.

(I am actually in Colorado working on a book on this topic. I’ll keep you posted. Heather Cole)