Home > Marketing, sales > How (Not) to Demo

How (Not) to Demo

Last week I attended a conference, where during the keynote, a cool new product was introduced and someone asked to show a demo of the product.

The presenter lost the audience in two minutes flat, not due to the product not being cool, but due to the way the demo was run. I learnt the following from the demo about the art of running demos.

I learnt that

  • Talking and showing features and functions does not work anymore. Context is the key ingredient.
  • Ensure that the demo is visible to everyone in the audience. In this case, the people sitting in the back seats were unable to read anything on the screen as the text font size was too small and incomprehensible. Which also means that while conducting the dry run, one should also go the different corners of the seating arrangement and check if the screen size is sufficient and to adjust if necessary.

From some of the best product demo’s that i have seen, I have learnt the following:

  • Create personas and weave a story around the persona and how the product will affect the persona.
  • Bring in an element of surprise. Infuse theatrics in the demo. Running a demo is nothing short of a performance. Treat it as one.
  • Use the power of silence. When someone is presenting or running a demo and everything goes quiet, it piques the interest of the people and they would want to know what happened. This will get you the interest of the few people whom you would have lost earlier.
  • Infuse humor. Everyone likes to have a laugh. Create moments of laughter for your audience.

As sales and marketing professionals, we face multiple situations where we are called upon to either run a demo of one of our products or present an idea to an audience (customers/prospects/colleagues or our bosses).

We would do very well if we remember to use some (if not all) of these insights during our presentation.

What other tips do you have or have come across that can help us get better at giving a demo or sell our ideas. Do share them by commenting on the blog or by sharing your thoughts via twitter to me at @rmukeshgupta.

PS: Some of the best product demo’s that i have seen:

Apple Macbook Air Introduced by Steve Jobs:


Sony Xperia Soda Stunt to demo the Water-Proof nature of the phone:


  1. September 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Good points. I’d like to share one tip that I’ve found helpful to address the feature/function topic. During the ‘dry run’ (every demo should have a dry run), someone senior sits in the back of the room with a card that has two simple words on it: “So What?”. During the practice run, whenever the presenter describes a feature/function without including the value/benefit to the audience, the person in the back holds up the card to remind the presenter to also indicate the value/benefit for the audience…

    • September 25, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks for sharing a great tip Rohit. “So what” is a powerful question that every sales man should answer before being asked in every sales presentation..

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