Would you dare to put your product where your mouth is?
This is not the first time I’m writing about demoing our product. It’s not even the first time I’ve used this title but I wanted to give it another shot. I wanted to share a bit more about the process and in a different fashion than before.
The more I participate in these types of events — demo nights — the more I convince myself that there’s an endemic fear at taking the risks of really showing what you’ve built. So many times, at InsightMedi we are the only ones on stage doing a real live demo of our product. Out of five or six other great companies we tend to be the ones playing Russian roulette in front of a live audience.
Many entrepreneurs decide to go the safer path of a PPT/PDF presentation or a canned video, and believe me I get it, it’s really stressful, risky, and some times even counter intuitive to put yourself in such position where you can be ridiculed in front of a bunch of strangers — let alone potential investors like the ones we invite to our demos. After all they are ready to judge in a heart beat all of your hard work. They are ready to have a quick conclusion as soon as things go sour, even without considering all the factors involved in what happened. It’s all but nice to realize how many things can go wrong and how quickly it could all change on stage.
Nevertheless I always wonder, what could be so frightening that would prevent us from showing off what we’ve work so hard for? Isn’t days like this what we live for as builders of technology products? Aren’t we asking users and investors to trust in what we’ve done? How can we expect others to trust what we ourselves can’t?
Pretty much all of us have grown admiring big keynote presenters like Steve Jobs, who was always ready to show what they have been working on at Apple, and who was not exempt from demo glitches here and there. Then why don’t we look forward to do the same? Why don’t we thrive at the thought of proving that what we’ve done actually works as we say it does?
As someone who’s in constant process of “selling” to everyone else the product we’ve spent so many hours developing, I can’t wait to have an opportunity to show people everywhere the latest version of what we have. It is not that I’m worry free. The opposite is true. I’m constantly freaking out about everything that could go wrong: we don’t have control of the environment in which we’ll be presenting (video feed, WiFi, etc.), our app crashes like any other (especially when I use an old iPod Touch with little main memory) and so on.
In my case I tend to prepare as much as possible the days before the event. I don’t take demos lightly. I keep in touch with the organizers to make sure they have the latest version possible of the software we’ll be using to demo (e.g. Reflector for WiFi connections) and that we have at least two backup plans based on cables, adaptors (which I usually provide), and alternative software to display the device on the screen.
Then I just practice for many hours each day until I get to a place where it is at least a decent demo in terms of timing, content, and communication (which tends to have an extra layer of challenge when it’s not in Spanish).
One thing that usually complicates everything a lot is the stress of presenting itself. Practicing at home is so easy that an inexperienced presenter can be fooled into believing that because everything goes well at home/office rehearsals, it’ll go well once you’re under the heavy breathing caused by the normal anxiety of the live demo.
Only making the demo script, gestures, and body movements second nature to you will give you a real fighting chance when the time to stand in front of people comes. Keep in mind that your brain under stress works in a different way and accesses the information stored in your head (the script, clicks, and taps) in a very different manner as well. My advice is to always practice until you’re sick of it and then practice some more.
After you’ve done the work there’s nothing else but to trust those many hours of development and testing, your team, the product you’ve created, and enjoy the experience.
Statistics predict that most of our companies are going to die trying to succeed. We’re probably going to disappear. Why would you want to waste any time showing aversion to risk and fear to shine? Aren’t opportunities like these the ones we live for?
I say let’s go for it. Let’s take the risk. Just show the world what you’re made of and actually demo your fucking product!
Thanks for reading,