TECH TALK: DEMO 2006: Demo Tips

Alec Saunders of Iotum offers advice for companies presenting at DEMO:

Three things:

1. Treat it as a focusing event for the company. It IS your launch. Drop everything else and focus on this exclusively.
2. Get someone to quarterback the marketing details. Things like matching logos, shirts, quality collateral, etc, all matter. Pre-briefing press and analysts matters. The product matters. You cant focus on it all, and on having a great DEMO.
3. Get professional help on the presentation. We had Shel Israel (veteran of 15 DEMOs) and Bill Ryan (public speaking coach to Steve Jobs). Neither was outrageously expensive. Both improved our presentation immeasurably. I think its no coincidence that all three of the companies that Shel coached for DEMO won DEMOgod awards.

From a structure point of view we treated our presentation as if it was a living, breathing brochure. It had to conform to our positioning. It had to be structured with an opening problem statement to establish need, a claim that we could solve that problem, and proof points to back up the claim. And, it had to follow the Tong/Zagula “Awesome, Awesome, Doesnt SUCK” formula > two positioning elements to wow the audience with capability, and one to assure that it would be painless to use. We showed people how iotum filters and routes calls, how easy it was to set up, and how it makes conference calling dead simple.

Techdirt offers more advice to presenting companies:

  • We get the problem, show us the solution: It’s pretty common in creating a business plan to start out with a detailed description of the problem you’re trying to solve. This makes sense in a business plan or when presenting to an audience who is completely unfamiliar with what you’re doing — but not so much in a demo at DEMO. Too many presenters wasted the first couple minutes detailing a “problem” that was probably widely understood already. Most people either understood the problem after a simple sentence — or if they didn’t, then your problem probably wasn’t big enough to be interesting.

  • Stuff happens, be able to adjust: If, say, your demo is based on a spoof of the TV show 24, and a couple demos before your demo another company also spoofs the show 24… at least figure out a way to throw in a joke about the coincidence.

  • Just ’cause you say your product is great, that doesn’t mean it is great: Dave Hornik has made this point a few times, but it’s worth repeating. Saying your product is great is a poor substitute for showing a great product.

  • Patents, schmatents — show us products: My views on the problems with the patent system have been discussed at length, but no matter how I feel, discussing patents is a waste of time at DEMO. Everyone is here to see products, not to hear about how you’re going to be in litigation with others because you think it’s a wonderfully unique idea to hook up a USB cable to a musical instrument.

  • Don’t pretend what isn’t new is new: Too many companies had what appeared to be “me too” products — and demonstrated them as if they were the first and only ones to have such an offering. If your product is going to be compared to something else, show why it’s different.

  • Stand out: This is perhaps the toughest one, but you’re competing against 70 or so other companies, and they do start to blend together. You have to have something to differentiate yourself. At DEMO you’re not competing with your usual competition, but with the other presenters for the attention of the press and VCs. Have something in the demo that’s memorable which attendees can point to (“oh, the one where the guy had the funky shoes…”) to help people remember.

  • To sum up, I think DEMO is a great concept. Id love to see something similar being done in India to showcase new technologies and innovations developed locally.


    Published by

    Rajesh Jain

    An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.