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Architecting a great demo

David Spark has a great piece up titled The worst product demonstration I’ve ever seen.  It’s full of good advice on fit and finish around demos.  I enjoyed his critique.  One of the things that I would add to his comments is that you have to focus on the architecture of your demo. If you treat your demo as an interactive product sheet, then you’ll have a good foundation for a truly effective pitch.

After winning a DEMOgod award in 2006, Howard and I built a slide presentation that we delivered at BarCamp Ottawa to describe that architecture.  Here’s how to knock your audience off their seats in 6 minutes or less (notes taken by Jay Goldman at BarCamp).

Architecture of a great demo


  • 0:00 to 0:20
  • State the problem (sometimes it feels like the whole world wants your attention)
  • Engage the audience (we can’t help you with the co-worker who wants to sit in your office and chat)


  • 0:20 to 0:30
  • My product is…


  • 0:30 to 5:15
  • Blow the crowd away with three big ideas
  • Awesome! (killer feature 1)
  • Awesome! (killer feature 2)
  • Doesn’t suck (it’s easy, it’s inexpensive, etc.  remove the one big objection people might have)
  • This has to be the main focus of the presentation – show the entire product in detail


  • 5:15 to 5:45
  • Synchronized blast to phones throughout the audience
  • Smart closing lines


  • Trying to be too funny
  • Some company did a terrorist sketch that wasn’t funny and no one remembers who they were – just the dreadful sketch
  • It’s not about you and it’s not about your company – it’s about the DEMO
    • One DEMO that could have been great was about an in-car entertainment centre but they spent the first three minutes on market position and on showing connectors on the back of the box
  • Timing is everything
    • 5:45 is only a :15 second
  • Listen to your advisors
    • Speed to cool is key – how quick can you get to the cool stuff?
  • Practice, Practice, Practice
    • iotum practiced about four times a day for two weeks before to get it totally slick

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • David Spark April 30, 2008, 10:58 am

    You know when you see something so bad and you literally need to bulldoze everything and start over, that's essentially what I saw. I felt bad for them because they were being so nice, but it was just a colossal disaster. They spent so much money for that suite and the booth on the trade show floor, I wonder if they got anything out of it.


  • Palonek May 1, 2008, 9:28 am

    There just can't be enough winners out there, there has to be some looser, but when you loose when everyone remembers you for what you did, that at least counts for something, when you loose and no one remembers you, hey you get a fresh start and do it again. Its amazing how many good products just could not close the deal due to a bad presentation. http://www.edward-palonek.com/

  • Randy Ksar May 1, 2008, 10:32 am

    Great tips on creating an engaging demo.

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