How To Do An Amazing Software Demo


How To Do An Amazing Software Demo

Have you ever felt like you are presenting a really cool solution in your software demo yet your audience just doesn’t get it?

Even worse, you look out to the crowd to see everyone checking their email. Well, you’re not alone. To be good at presenting a software demo, you need to learn to engage the audience.

The power of your presentation skills makes the difference between success and failure when giving a software demo.

The power of your presentation skills makes the difference between success and failure. Whether you are persuading end users to use your dashboards, pitching to the executive team requesting funding for a BI or Analytics project, or training new users, it's all about having effective presentation skills.

Imagine standing in a conference room full of executives. You know you’re going crush it because you’ve learned the methods and have practiced the presentation techniques/skills of the masters.

Tips To Get You Started Today

As a business analytics professional, your job is designing and developing business intelligence solutions such as dashboards that executives love. However, designing and developing is not enough! Isn’t your goal to have a high rate of end user adoption especially from the executives? The secret is to wow them with your presentation skills. After 25 years of presenting and coaching people how to do an amazing software demo, I’ve learned some tips you can use

4 Tips to Rock your Software Demo:

1. Practice - To be candid, most people are not born with great presentation skills. I often hear stories regarding clients planning for a software demo for their new dashboards or other business intelligence solution. They are giving it to the executive team so I contact them to see if they are prepared. Their response is, “Yes the dashboards look really good and they are completely tested.” When I ask if they have created a plan and practiced the presentation, they are like a deer in headlights. They continue to explain that they had no plan to practice. They were just going to show up and demonstrate the features and functionality.

Remember...Proper Practice Makes Perfect

Not planning and practicing your presentation is arguably the biggest mistake you can make, not just for your project, but for you professionally. If you are doing a software demonstration for the executives, this is your time to shine! Time to get noticed! Without practicing your presentation, you might get noticed in a negative way. Working in presales and giving software demonstrations for over 25 years, I know that I still need to take the time and practice!

One of the best ways to practice is to record yourself then play it back. Watch it as if you were in the audience. Note areas that need to be tweaked then work on them. I believe strongly that a good presentation helps increase end user adoption because it gets them excited. If it’s a really important presentation, you may want to engage a business analytics coach that has a presales background for coaching. (For information on this email us at

Sit Down And Let Me Tell You A Story...

2. Storytelling (Don't show feature functionalities) - The most common mistake I see in giving software demonstrations is what I call “Show Up & Throw Up”. Even professional presales people at large software companies are guilty of this. They want to show every bell and whistle in the software. Have you ever witnessed a “Show Up & Throw Up” software demo? It’s very painful to watch. Typically, the audience will start checking their smart phones 5 minutes into it.

The secret to giving an amazing software demonstration is to tell an engaging story. Identify the pain of your audience. What can’t they do today? Is there information they find challenging to get rapidly? Your job is to tell the story of where they are today and how your solution solves their problem. You want to show them how easy it is to use the dashboards or BI reports. Showing every field of feature will not add value. It will make it look complex. The less mouse clicks you have in your demo the better. I am also a big fan of analogies to communicate complex points. Therefore, create a storyline around the pain, data, and solution all the while engaging them in the story.

"Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady" - The Three Times Method

3. The Three Times Method - I believe, as a presenter, you are the tour guide. To do an amazing software demonstration, you will need to engage, educate, and entertain your audience. The challenge is that your audience, especially the executive team, often has a very short attention span. Chances are you will lose them at some point in the presentation. They will begin thinking about something on their appointment calendar which needs to get done.

Your job as the tour guide is to bring them back into the present when their brains wander. To improve your presentation skills, you want to follow a proven method that I call the "Three Times Method". It’s easy but rarely followed unless you have been coached. You are going to explain in a summary format what you are demonstrating three times.

a. Tell them what you are going to show them - This should be in a story format. What pain are you solving, what are the benefits to the organization, and what are the benefits to them personally?
b. Show them - Demonstrate the solution reiterating the pain you just solved as you go through the story. Remember less is more! There’s a saying in software sales. When they say “Yes we love it”, you wrap it up and shut up! The more you show after that point, the more confusion you can create. You may have prepared a lot more but please remember that time is a valuable commodity. If you give them time back in their schedule, they will have a positive impression of you. Let us give you one more bonus tip for the presentation. When you screw up or if the system crashes, don't highlight the error! Most of the people will not notice the situation unless you, yourself, start highlighting it. I hate when people giving that are giving a software demo stop and highlight errors saying, "it worked yesterday...".
c. Tell them what you showed them - This is your summary wrap up to reiterate how easy and effective your solution is to solve their pain.

Be Prepared Just Like The Boy Scouts Said!

4. Prepare the environment - Don’t just assume the room is set and everything will work! You have a set amount of time to engage your audience. You don’t want to waste any time if the project doesn’t work, the markers are dried up, or the internet ports are blocked without help getting to your system. Take some time the day before to double check that you can connect from the room in which you will be presenting. Make sure it has a good speaker phone if people will be remote. This is your party! Your time to shine! Make sure the environment is set.

I know you don’t think you are a sales person, but you are! You are selling your work and yourself. Studying how to do an amazing software demonstration, practicing, and getting a business analytics coach will absolutely help your career. But more than that, it will increase the end user adoption of business intelligence and analytics in your organization. So what are you waiting for? Here are a couple of other great blogs you may want to check out on giving a software demo:

5 Tips to Make your Next Software Demo More Interesting

Give a Great Product Demo: 5 Rules

Software Presentations to Promote: Increase Your Software Demonstration Skills

How to Rock Your Next Software Demonstration!!!

This Should Be Your Next Step...

There are so many other tips we would like to share with you! We have created a video that will give you these proven tips and more on how to do an amazing software demonstration. Using these additional tips can not only increase end user adoption but make you look like a rock star within your organization with your presentation skills.

To get access to this video which teaches valuable presentation skills, you just need to join our NO COST Cognos Analytics Club. Click THIS LINK now to join.

Provide your name, email and create a password. Once you join the club you will get immediate access to our library of education videos. You will find my “How to do a Great Software Demo” video under Professional High Performance Techniques. As a member, you can return to the Analytics Coaching Club library at any time to see other videos by just visiting our website Click the login button in the top right corner and you are back in.

If you are looking for other high performance techniques, our business analytics coaches provide one on one or group coaching session to help increase your productivity. For more information, email