Show & tell

Loyal readers of my blog will know that I made it a habit to publish a post while attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. In case you missed some of these articles or would like to revisit one or more of them, here’s the list to date:

Unfortunately, there’s no MWC Barcelona this year, no crema catalana this week and no special blog post today.

The GSMA, who organizes this yearly mega event, has cancelled MWC 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The day before, my company had already announced that they pulled out for the same reason. A wise decision by both parties, since it would have been very difficult – if not impossible – to safeguard the health and well-being of me and my colleagues, as well as of the tens of thousands international visitors.

Image by 3dman_eu (pixabay.com, CC0 1.0)

So, today, I’m writing these words with mixed feelings. I really appreciate my employer’s concern for the health and well-being of its employees and customers. But… I also spent the past months defining and creating an exciting experiential demo, which I would have loved seeing go-live in Barcelona this morning.

Well, there’s also a light on the horizon: while communicating their withdrawal from MWC 2020, my company also announced series of “Nokia Live” events with which we will go directly to our customers and showcase them the industry-leading demos we prepared for the Mobile World Congress.

For obvious environmental, family and cost reasons, however, you can’t fly a hundred demo presenters around the globe for a few months. Live streaming, digital content and virtual presence will certainly provide alternatives to physical travel. But one can also educate local people to deliver the respective demonstrations.

That’s why I’ve already started creating a Show & Tell script for the demo I was supposed to give in Barcelona today. The Show & Tell concept is dead simple and implementation doesn’t need much more effort than doing a dress rehearsal of your demonstration. Run it for your colleagues and ask one of them to record it with his/her smartphone. Or just do it in front of a mirror and use a selfie stick.

The video will translate in a two-column document. One column is to be headed “show this” and the other “tell this”. In the first column you iterate the storyboard of your demo, while in the second one you just write down the corresponding transcript of your filmed narrative.

It’s easy as pie and, believe me, your distant colleagues will truly appreciate your effort. Send them the document together with the video source. They will be able to personalize the story, adapt the demo in function of time and audience, and translate the transcript to their local language.

Defy the demo devil

When it comes to product selling, a good demonstration may tell more than a thousand slides. But at the same time, an ill-prepared demo may also ruin your whole presentation – as well as your reputation.

People who have done (or participated to) live demonstrations before, know that Murphy’s law always applies and that the Demo Devil is never far away.

murphys_law

But if you stick to a few simple rules, your odds to beat this annoying creature will be bigger than ever. Some tips and tricks to prepare and deliver a successful live demonstration:

  • First of all, don’t try to boil the ocean in one single demo run. Keep it sweet, short and simple. As most of your spectators may not be very familiar with your product (yet), don’t go into the nitty-gritty technical details. Show only a few key features that really matter for your audience. Focus rather on the user experience and the value of your product than on individual features.
  • Prepare and deliver your demonstration the same way as you would do for a presentation. Tell a story. Build a message house. Structure your demo the AIDA way. Get into a dialogue with your audience. Make it a visually pleasant experience.
  • Compose a detailed demo script and freeze it. Never show an unplanned (and often untested) feature! A presentation can survive some last-minute changes, but a demonstration likely won’t. A good practice is to create a two-column “tell this – show this” cheat sheet, and not to deviate from it.
  • Arrive early, and (when possible) test and dry-run  the demo a few minutes – not a few hours! – in advance. Special caution is needed when the success of your demo is relying on an internet connection. Wi-Fi and cellular networks may start behaving badly when too many people are accessing the venue’s communication infrastructure simultaneously (watch this video to see what happened to Steve Jobs and the iPhone 4.)

  • Prepare a few slides to display with the demo, that explain e.g. the value proposition, the physical setup and the interactions you’re showing. Always keep in mind that people came to see something, so keep the narrative short – and the demo experience exciting.
  • Just like for an oral presentation, be ready to take questions from your audience – but don’t feel obliged to illustrate all your answers with an on-the-fly extension of your demo script (see my point above about not doing non-planned things). Don’t let the people leave without a product sheet to handout of your visuals.

 More tips and tricks for doing live demos can be found in these articles: