Friday, April 9, 2010

What's in it for me?

As a presenter, that's the question you always have to be asking yourself. Imagine yourself in your audience's position - you are taking time out of your busy workday to view a demonstration. As such, you want to know how this new product or service will benefit you. When you first sit down to hear the presenter speak:
  • You do not care about the presenter's company history.
  • You do not care about the awards the presenter's company has won.
  • You do not care about the demonstrated product's history.

Yet it's amazing how many people start their presentations off with a bunch of slides that agonizingly detail those points. When I watch a demo, I want to know if a product is going to help me do my job effectively. Once I know that it will, then it might be nice to know more about the awards and company history. But that's not what's essential.

The essence of the demo should show the audience how your product will solve a problem they have. Before you present, make sure you understand the audience's pain. Are they performing a tedious task that is prone to errors? Are they trying to speed up their app's performance? Do they need a better way to communicate between mulitple departments?

Once you understand the problem, you can apply your product's features and show how those features turn into benefits for the audience. And that's the key - too many people will show a cool feature in their product, but not state how that feature benefits the audience. Always make sure you state the benefit - "Cool Feature X is important because it allows you to process your data 4x faster than before, which saves you a ton of time over the course of a release."

By tailoring your demos so you show how to solve your audience's problems, you'll be a much more effective presenter.

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