Live Demos DIE — How to Create a “Killer” Product Demo Without Going Live

A Live Demo can Die on Anyone — Even Technology Moguls!

The lights go down at a major Tech competition, electricity crackles in the air. People actually set down their phones for a rare moment to listen to the 10 most promising startups Du Jour. The first CEO gets up and starts presenting in the polished manner we’d been working so hard on. He flips the screen to start his live demo and -

“No internet connection” appears on the blank screen.

He looks mortified, the IT team starts to scramble, the audience starts to murmur and I bury my face in my hands. 3.5 minutes later which felt like an eternity he was up and running again — but the momentum was lost…

Let’s get something straight — YOU MUST HAVE A DEMO! Now that that’s clear here’s a fact: LIVE DEMOS DIE! I have seen it happen too many painful times. I even a blue screen instead of a demo at a live Steve Ballmer product launch! (Poetic Justice?) Most Entrepreneurs simply don’t know how to handle it so they fumble through their pitch… Granted, I’ve seen some great saves, like an Entrepreneur continuing without missing a beat when the screen wouldn’t flip to his Reflector app and he stood there waving his Smartphone to the audience showing the app. It was too far to see unfortunately, but kudos to him for trying.

And it’s not just at Conferences/Demo Days/Competitions — it happens at Investor meetings and it doesn’t reflect well on you or your product.

It is super important to be able to showcase your product. Human beings are very visual creatures and Investors, panelists or audience members need to see what you’re talking about. But not at the cost of fumbling and bumbling.

So how do you create a great Demo that looks (almost) live?

  1. Take a Piece of Your Product Film — If you’ve already invested in a product film (Which shouldn’t be more that 60 seconds) take the part that shows the demo of your product — 20–30 seconds and instead of the voice over talking, you talk it through
  2. DIY Demo — If you don’t have the resources to invest in a Product film, you can create a product demo by capturing your screen. A popular, free and fairly easy to use tool is Camtasia or if you have a Mac Screenflow. If you have an IOS app you can use Reflector to stream onto your screen and then record it. (Note — they recently released an Android version but I haven’t seen it in action yet — worth a try!) If you have an Android App, from Lollipop and up there’s a Cast screen feature that let’s you broadcast on any screen.
  3. Screenshots — If you are really in a pinch or don’t have a launched product or prototype yet, you can put together a series of screenshots to tell the story. You might want to point out and highlight the features that you discuss. Make sure they look good! Shoddy screenshots=shoddy product in the investors’ eyes. Try InVision — a great prototyping tool that let’s you create great looking screenshots to display as a demo.
  4. Tell a Story — Let your Demo tell the story of a first time user experience. Use a real customer story, an imagined one or just an overriding narrative that guides them through helping them imagine how easy and cool it would be to use your product.
  5. Be Unforgettable — I’ve seen it all — from human bar charts, to mini land-rovers on stage, to light up toilets, bikers and a Broadway worthy musical demo. Yes, all of the above were Demo Day Demos and if you ask anyone which start up they remembered, what do you think the answer is? So get creative — be irreverent but be memorable!

Of course if you’re at a networking event or just run into someone you want to pitch, have your product or demo cued up on your smartphone and then you can try going live. Just remember — your Demo is the first impression that they have of your product — make it a good one!

Have more questions? Need more guidance? Talk to me!

Donna Griffit — Corporate Storyteller

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