The demo is what you show

We had this wildly ambitious plan for our demo in Vancouver. So many features that were nearly working. Then at the last minute, about 70% of those features fell apart.

But we stil had 30% of the features working. And here’s the cool thing: The people who came to see the demo didn’t know about that other 70%. All they knew was what we showed them.

So we built an entire presentation around the 30% that worked, and scaffolded that demo with interesting and relevant context. It was all very entertaining and fun, and everybody had a great time.

I’m sure there is a moral here somewhere. :-)

4 Responses to “The demo is what you show”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    I recall the advice of just starting your demos by telling your audience “Watch this!”, rather than describing what you expect them to see. Which may be different than what they _actually_ see if things go awry.

    Even better: During a demo of a complicated publishing app, the product manager knew one of the features he was showing was likely to crash the Mac the demo was running on. Sure enough, it died. He quickly hit the reboot button, and started telling a joke. By the time he got to the joke’s punchline, the Mac had rebooted and the app was loaded up again, with perfect timing. The failure was more entertaining than success.

  2. admin says:

    Yes, that’s the key: It’s not how much works, it’s how much you know what will happen.

    I was telling somebody right after the demo that as long as you know what will work and what won’t work, you can build your story around that– even if what is going to happen is that something is not going to happen. If you know for certain that something will not work, it’s easy to build a story around that.

    The problem is when you don’t know whether something will work. What you don’t want is to put a lot of psychological weight on some aspect of the demo, and then that part doesn’t work in a way that obviously surprised you.

  3. Denise says:

    Hi Ken you keep mentioning your blog so I thought I’d catch up on it!

    Several lessons indeed, and if the excitement and messages today are to be trusted, everyone had a really amazing time. At the end of the day, people came to see you tell them about your vision for immersive realities and collaboration/communication, and they were really happy with the evening. I’ve learned as the years go on that sometimes it pays to be deliberately vague when it comes to complex situations with moving parts, yet it goes against my own nature to be like that and I think the very nature also of anyone working in this area since we are so detail oriented and technical. But at the end of the day no one outside knows that stuff went wrong nor do they care. As you say they care about the story you create opposed to the result. The story and experience is what sticks with people.

  4. admin says:

    Thanks Denise! I’m glad everyone had a great time!!

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