5 Tips for Delivering a Better Demonstration

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In this blog I thought I’d share a few tips to help you deliver a better demonstration to your clients and prospects. None of these are earth shattering, ground-breaking techniques. In fact, as you read them you’ll probably think they are just common sense. That being said, a little reminder on some basic techniques is always good. Professional athletes still practice fundamentals and so should you.

One – Show up Early

Rolling into the clients lobby 10 minutes before a meeting may seem early enough, but it’s not. At many clients you have to go through a secure sign in process, then they have to call your contact (or someone else) to escort you to the meeting room. On a large corporate campus it may be a long walk to a different building to get to the meeting room. That can easily burn up your preparation time. I hate walking into a full room of waiting people and having to setup. 

I try to set the expectation with a client we want to show up 30 minutes early to get into the building and set up prior to everyone showing up. 

Two – Test the Network

Once you’re in the meeting room, you need to start getting ready for the demonstration. That means the first question you ask is “What’s the wireless connection/password to use?”. Half the time it seems like IT needs to get involved, or there is a registration process to get on guest wifi. Or no one knows the guest wifi password and someone has to track it down.

If you need a VPN connection to your corporate network, do they allow outgoing VPN? More and more companies now block this due to security concerns, so you may be forced to use a hotspot for connectivity. Have you ever had to do a demonstration from a hotspot with one bar of connectivity? The latency is painful! Latency != better demonstration.

Three – Test the Display Device

Many conference rooms now have large screen high-definition displays. In a simple environment, the connection to these displays is just an HDMI cable laying on the floor. If you have an HDMI port on your laptop you can plug in, share your display and you’re good to go. But, if you don’t have an HDMI port, you’d better have the right adapter for your laptop so you can plug in. If you do have an HDMI port, I’d recommend also carrying the reverse, an HDMI to VGA adapter, for those occasions where HDMI isn’t an option or it’s not working. 

In the nicer conference rooms, many companies have elaborate touchpad multimedia controllers. Determining the right controls to select for audio, lights and screen inputs can take some time and a little trial and error. I’ve also run into situations where I had to plug a dongle into my laptop and/or download software to connect to a company’s display system. Again, this burns up your prep time.

Rarely do I run into projectors anymore, but if you do just hope it is a high definition projector. Ever demonstrated software designed for 1920×1080 resolution at 1024×768? Let’s just say it involves a lot of scrolling. 

And if worst comes to worst, always have a web meeting account you can use as a safety net. If your laptop just won’t work with the display, then set up a Zoom/WebEx/GotoMeeting. You can login from your laptop and share your screen. Then an employee’s PC (or the conference room PC) can login to the web meeting and project to the conference room screen. 

Four – Sit in the Front of the Room

If you are the one delivering the demonstration, sit towards the front of the room near the display. You want to be facing your audience while they are looking at you (and the screen). This way you can gauge reaction to your demonstration and make adjustments as you go. Plus, you’ll be heard more clearly by your audience. If the cable for the display is short, then you are limited to some extent, but always try to face your audience. You don’t want to be a voice in the back of a dark room. 

Five – Hands off the Mouse

Obviously you’re going to use the mouse to deliver your demonstration. But when you’re explaining something to the audience, or your Account Exec is making a point, take your hand off the mouse. Too many times I’ve seen nervous energy released as little movements of the mouse. It’s distracting and causes the audience to watch the mouse move around the screen and not listen to the point you’re trying to make. Another reason to sit in the front of the room? You can get up and point to areas of the screen to make your point. It breaks up the monotony of the demonstration, engages your audience and it gets your hands off the mouse. 

Conclusion

I told you these were all simple things to do. But if you make these a habit, you will lower the stress levels and deliver a better demonstration. Happy selling!

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If you are an experienced software professional (Sales Engineer, Account Exec, Consultant) and want to share your thoughts, then drop me a note!

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4 thoughts on “5 Tips for Delivering a Better Demonstration”

  1. Dean nice blog site! Good tips. I would add – practice, practice, practice. Do dry-runs with your team ensure that everyone participating understands goals and topics to be discussed. Open yourself and your team in providing suggestions for improvement. After all, isn’t the largest room in anyone’s house the room for improvement? 🙂

  2. Excellent Dean!
    I also agree with Neal’s advice on practicing. Not only will it go smoother but you will be more confident and not blunder through.
    I would add to listen to your sales lead and your audience. In this way you can tailor your delivery to not just the script but add color commentary that leans into the sale and meets the various needs that were virtually painstormed.

    Get to know your audience. Ask some questions and let the story come out. Then retell the story with education and empathy.

    Do not kick the competition, it will seem petty. Instead highlight your strengths and enunciate your role as a credible consultant advocating for a solution with fit not a product with features and widgets or worse dry facts.

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