Ways for software demo

If you are looking to close the sale, collect user feedback, display the progress of your product to customers or simply explain the way your product functions sooner or later, you will have to demonstrate your software product.

Through time I’ve had the chance to give hundreds of demonstrations for audiences of varying sizes. I’ve also had the chance to take part in demos organized by other individuals. These are the top 5 tips I’ve picked up over the last decade regarding demos.

Manage Your Audience’s Expectations

Have you been to see a movie everyone talked about and come out dissatisfied? Most of the time, moviegoers are disappointed, not because the film was scan to pay bad or not good, but because it was worse than what they had hoped for. It did not meet their expectations.

Also, if people go for a demo believing they’re about to see the finished product, they’ll expect that it’ll be flawlessly perfect, beautiful and easy to use. They won’t be impressed, by a web-based application that contains typos or JavaScript mistakes when they’re under the impression that the application will be live in just a week. But if they realize beforehand that you’re only presenting a flimsy prototype, the public will be more lenient. They will also be willing to provide valuable feedback that will help with your work in progress.

Managing your audience’s expectation is essential to ensure a successful demo. If you want them to walk away from the presentation happy it is important to establish expectations for them prior to the presentation. Be sincere with them. Don’t try to oversell your demo. Just sell it, and attempt to exceed expectations.

One Bad Apple Spoils The Whole Bunch

The most you need to do to screw the demo is one person. If someone starts snarkily critiquing each and every feature in your software or continually interrupts your presentation simply because they like to hear his or her own voice, then your presentation will turn into a disaster. It is your job to make sure that the bad apples don’t show up at your demonstration.

If you’re hosting a private demo, it’s very hard to determine who’s going to attend the event. By removing someone from your invite list isn’t a guarantee that they won’t hear about your demo through word-of-mouth or just show up.

Here are two ways to trick people who aren’t good at attending the demo

Set up a time-slot conflict for the bad apples. Make sure they’re busy or not in the office when your demo begins.

Book two separate demos. Invite the people whose comments you really value to the second demo and the negative ones to the next. More often than not, each group will show to the demo that they’re invited to. When it’s time for the second demonstration take the opportunity to give it your best effort, or if you don’t have time, just cancel the demo.

I’m aware the two tips appear to be an excerpt in Scott Adams’s Dilbert And The Way Of The Weasel, but unless you’re confident in confiding in your bosses, colleagues or customers not to attend your demonstration and these two tips are pretty much all you’re left with.

Do A Practice Run

I attended a demo last week which was hosted by a CEO of an established local startup. After having a conversation with him at a trade show he managed to convince me that his business had developed an innovative technology that could meet one of my clients’ problems. I agreed to grant him 30 minutes of my time so he could demonstrate his product’s capabilities.

I didn’t require 30 minutes to figure out that I don’t want to engage with him in business. All I needed was just 30 seconds.

This guy couldn’t even log into his own web-based application! He was for all of 10 minutes during the demo searching for the password.

Always practice running using the same system that you’re going to use during the actual demonstration. You may know the program as well as the palm of the palm of your hands, however if somebody has access to your demo system, it’s hard to tell what condition it’s in. They may have removed certain the services, updated components or like the CEO with this CEO, changed the user’s credentials without notifying you.

If you don’t mind appearing like a fool, conduct a practice session on your demonstration system prior to giving your presentation to the audience.

Pay Attention To Details

The hundreds of demonstrations I’ve done over the years are a reminder that the public pays greater pay attention to how an application appears rather than what it can do. You software might provide a solution to the world’s hunger but if anyone in your audience sees a typo in your GUI and points it out, they will make sure that you know!

People are particularly distracted by text that is easy to read – and that’s a fact. Take care when looking over the text on your web interface as well as in your graphics. If you’re not able or don’t have time to go through and edit the text, use Lorem Ipsum.

Lorem Ipsum has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters thereby making it look like readable English but not distracting your viewers. I’m currently creating new prototypes strictly with Lorem Ipsum. I add text when and only when I have time to write content I know will not be the subject of discussion at my next demo. I strongly recommend that you use the same method.

Point Out The (Obvious) Bugs

Software can be contaminated with bugs. It’s that easy. Anyone who isn’t in agreement with that statement clearly hasn’t been in the software industry for a long time. While we often strive to create free of defects, the truth is that complicated systems are always full of flaws, even when they’re widely available.

A practice run prior to your presentation will help you to identify and resolve the issues that cause the most trouble, and using Lorem Ipsum to deal with those small-scale details that could otherwise hinder your audience. But what about the other issues that can be attributed to Murphy’s Law?

If you notice a bug that is obvious does show it during your demo Make sure you be sure to point it out!

The majority of your readers will have noticed the bug. Any attempt to cover it up can give the impression that you’re not being honest. Consequently, they’ll start to consider what else you’re trying cover up.

Make sure to point out the issue Explain that you have a solution, and confidently announce you’ll have it put into place within a certain timeframe, and then move on. This sincere behavior will reassure your readers to know (a) it’s not attempting to sweep the issue under the rug and (b) the problem will be resolved in the near future, when they launch your system.

I’m not advocating that you go hunting for bugs during your demonstration. If you can circumvent them in any way then do it. If there is a problem that does surface during your presentation, don’t try to pretend it doesn’t exist. The only person you’re fooling is yourself.


That’s it. Five tips for a great software demo.

Control the expectations of your viewers

Check that bad apples do not ruin the bunch

Practice a run

Pay attention to specifics and use Lorem Ipsum

Make sure you spot the obvious bugs

Do these five tips reflect what I’ve learned in the hundreds of demonstrations I’ve hosted? Absolutely not! The toughest part of writing this article was probably condensing it to just 5 points. It would have been easy to throw in 5 more tips like (a) manage the circumstance or (b) always have a plan B. But the goal wasn’t to list all the ways to help you. Only the top five!

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