David makes a really good point about the value of the demo. I love demos as well, mostly because I have serious ADD and I’m a visual person so watching a demo tells me far more about the potential and vision of a concept than the spoken word would. David is also correct that a poorly prepared or ill-behaved demo can cause more damage than not having one at all, and I am continually surprised at how bad so many demos really are, here’s my top 3 demo sins (in no particular order because they are all equally grievous):
1) Feature/Function Poker: Don’t walk through every menu item and button like it means something, demos have to tell a story about how the target user is going to look like a rockstar by using it. I only care about the menu items, drop downs, dialog boxes, and buttons in the context of how the use scenario works, and even then I’m more interested in the elegance of the user experience than whether or not you used sweet rounded boxes in your UI.
2) The Flub: Every demo has the potential to go bad, the difference between the pros and the rookies is that the pro anticipates it and bunts for a base hit. In other words, if something goes bad, skip over it and move on and for God’s sake don’t draw attention to it. If your demo is a live over-the-air deal you should have a plan for dealing with network issues because blaming the network for your demo failing only serves to highlight one of the vulnerabilities that your potential investor is bound to highlight in their risks section.
3) Timing is Everything: The key to a great demo is that the duration is just right, leave them wanting more instead of looking for an excuse to call a “hard stop”. Run through your demo script until you can predict exactly how long it will take you to cover all of it with Q&A, the only thing worse than getting cutoff from completing your pitch is disrespecting your audience’s time.
I thought about including a 4th bullet for demo data because good demos feature well thought out demo data and demo scenarios. I decided against calling this out because it’s integral to the first point about telling a good story. Don’t be afraid to drop a few easter eggs in the demo data, it will help keep the attention of your audience.
And while we are on demos, the Duet team has a pretty good online demo that walks through the applications.
Rather than expending mental energy on translating a concept into how it could manifest itself, a demo (even if not fully baked) allows me to apply those mental resources on what it really means to have a full working product (whether thatâ€™s now or in the future). From there, I can more clearly see the potential of a business and the steps required to make it a reality.