Delivering Great Online Demos

How many of you have sat through a boring online demo? How many have given a boring demo? OK, you don’t have to answere that last question. Last week I attended the “How to Deliever a Great Demo Via Web Confernce” online event by Ken Molay and Peter Cohan. The webinar was part of Adobe’s Online events series.

If you include demos in your eLearning, use them in webinars (or other live online events), or even in classroom training, then you owe it to your audience to check out this presentation. There is a recording of the event on Adobe’s web site. You have to register with Adobe to view it, but once you do you’ll have access to all the other recordings as well. It’s worth the effort, and they don’t spam you if you opt out.

The central learning point for me was “do the last thing first”. Show people the end result of what you intend to demo, and ask them if that is the result they want.  It makes complete sense, and really is a basic part of good instructional design (state the objectives at the beginning). Right away you hook the audience because they know you are going to show them something they need to see.  It seems obvious now, but is so crucial to good demos that I need to be reminded, often.  In the work I do I can’t think of a single situation where I wouldn’t want to show the end result first, then lead learners through the process of achieving that result.

The other major learning point I got from the webinar was show them the easiest, quickest way to achieve the result. You don’t need to show people how flexible and robust your sofware is, you need to show them how it can help them be more productive. The more features and variations on a process you demo, the more confusing and overwhelming the demo (and your product) becomes. Keep it short and simple, then let them ask questions. Stick to the point and don’t try to show everything.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen presenteters ramble on and on and on about a product, seemingly with no point or purpose.  Stay focused and stay on task.

Demos are the primary way people see how great your product is and how it can help them. Demos are also the least expensive way to show people how cool your product is.  Shouldn’t you make every effort to do them right?

The presentation by Ken and Peter has many other insightful and helpful tips that can help you or your co-workers improve the quality and effectiveness of software demos. The presentation was an hour, and is time well spent.

You can find more information about the presenters and giving effective demos at their web sites:

Peter has a lot of great articles, like Stunningly Awful Remote Demos – The Top Ten List of Inflicting Pain at a Distance that are worth reading.

Also, Adobe has a lot of free online eSeminars, both live and recorded that you should check out. They use the events to showcase Acrobat Connect, but also provide some great free resources.  It’s a great way to stay informed and learn.