Recently I saw two product demos. Both were about 15 minutes long, but they were very different. One worked really well and one didn’t. Both products are innovative and exciting.

One demo was done by a professional pre-sales person. It told a simple story. Every field was filled in with realistic and relevant data, and the data told the story. I knew where the demo was headed and system almost explained itself. There was even audience participation. Afterwards I knew I’d learnt something, and I had a clear understanding of what the product does and why it is important. It was an affirming experience.

In the other demo, the CEO/founder was super passionate about his product. He has years of experience in the space and truly believes in the product. I saw a mass of features and explanation, but without a proper story to hold it together, after 15 minutes I felt confused, frustrated and a more than little stupid. I still couldn’t really grasp what the product could or couldn’t do or why you would use it.

Delia Smith has taught a generation of people in the UK and elsewhere how to cook. When I go to a house in the UK, and I look at the cookbook collection, the most used book is almost always the Delia one. Here is ours.

delia Smith cookbook battered

When cooking on TV, Delia would often show a completed version of the dish at the start of the programme, with the now famous catch phrase, “Here is something I prepared earlier.” By 2004, Delia had sold more than 17,000,000 books.

Over the last few months Nat has become a youtube sensation. He is a stand up comedian, and an excellent cook. He does swear a little bit, so if that isn’t your thing, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Link to Risotto video is here (WordPress embed doesn’t offer ALT text).

BTW the Bolognese video is brilliant too. His war on packet food and jar sauces is a thing to behold.

Nat and Delia’s approach works for demos too.

  1. Know the audience. Nat isn’t trying to teach wanna be masterchefs. He is aiming at those that warm packets up in the microwave.
  2. Say and show what it is you are going to make.
  3. Say and show what you will need to do it.
  4. Prepare stuff ahead of time to shorten things if needed.
  5. Show how to do it.
  6. Only explain what you need to explain.
  7. Stress what’s important
  8. Make people feel at ease. Remove complexity and the abstract.
  9. Avoid jargon
  10. Mistakes happen. Laugh and move on.
  11. Let your personality come through.

In 15 minutes you can’t explain everything you know about the product. Your goal is to make sure that the people watching the demo understand what your product does. Show usually beats tell. Less is more.