Demos – And Grocery Lists


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I am constantly amazed at how vendors, in their demos, expect audiences to retain and remember the (often) enormous number of features and functions presented – particularly when human brains are rather poor at remembering undifferentiated lists of information. For example: Have you ever had the following happen to you?
You drive to the grocery/supermarket with a mental list of 5 items in your head. Everything is fine until the moment you step through the door into the store, when you suddenly can’t recall 2 (or more) of the items on your mental list. You can remember the first item or two, and perhaps the last one, but – darn it! – what were those other items? Being presented with the hundreds of items (and advertising) seems to have knocked those middle items off of your mental list – and you often don’t recall what they were until you exit the store…

What can we do to combat this when WE are presenting demos? Here’s a short list (additions welcome):

– Do the Last Thing First
– Organize your content in “chunks”
– Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them…
– Repeat (adults learn by repetition; adults learn by repetition; adults learn by repetition…)
– Summarize (an elegant way of repeating)
– Find ways to make your delivery more interesting and remarkable (see my articles “What Makes a Demo Truly Remarkable” and “We Are Programmed To Forget” on my website – or email me for copies at [email protected])
– Other ideas?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


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