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111 Key Principles for Success

Principle 67 - Demos

I learned how to give demos many years ago. Three rules to follow are:
  1. Preplan exactly what you will demo
  2. Make sure it's repeatable
  3. Don't go off script no matter what

In the 80's I worked on a system called FileNet which was an imaging system.

I gave many demos and they failed often as the software was very buggy.

I gave so many demos that I needed a process that wouldn't embarrass me. I developed a program that initialized my demo before I started. This way, each time I gave the demo, it would be from the same starting point.

As long as I didn't try anything new the demo went okay. As soon as I tried to show off a new feature I was working on the demo failed.

So that's where I came up with these rules. I recently had a failed demo with my new boss. This is a valuable lesson as I'll be more careful to follow my method.

One mistake I made was to try to fix up the software instead of getting the demo ready first. Once I had a repeatable demo then I could have enhanced the software to make it better. But I did this in reverse as I tried to clean up the software before creating a version I could always demo that wasn't dependant on changes I made to the software.

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