How to give great demos – with @TriMyData & @VizWizBI [Video]

Close-up headshot of Andy Kriebel and Eva MurrayIf you do demos at work or online, check out this fantastic video (below) from Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray.

In it, Eva shares lots of excellent tips for giving better demos, and Andy shows how clear and helpful a good demo can be.

Andy happens to be demoing software. But many of these tips apply to other demo types too. For instance, Eva shares a story (at 5:57) about learning ballroom dancing by seeing someone demonstrate the steps.

In this clip, you’ll find what I think are the best 8 minutes of advice on how you can give great demos. (Or, watch the 1-hour video this clip comes from.)

You can also scroll down to see a list of the tips

Here are Eva’s tips, plus some discussion points (in italics). After you go to any of these sections of this post, you can click a time (mm:ss) to watch the relevant bit of the clip:

  1. Show the end result first
  2. Go slower than you think
  3. Not using your mouse? Hands off it!
  4. Take the “golden path”
  5. Show the workings
  6. Describe the screen location
  7. Start from scratch – or where your audience is at
  8. Discussion: What about a backup plan?
  9. Rehearse and practise
  10. Discussion: Live or recorded demos?
  11. Build rapport and be authentic

 

1. Show the end result first (at 5:37)Scroll to Contents ↑

Your audience is most interested in what they can achieve

I strongly agree with Eva here. The steps involved might be important, but your audience is most interested in what they can achieve – so first focus on that.

To find out more, see my “ASPECT” model for giving great demos, where the E stands for the end result.

 

2. Go slower than you think (6:25)Scroll to Contents ↑

Going slower’s great advice! If you’ve ever had an expert quickly show you how to do steps you’ve never done before, you can probably relate.

Match your speed to your audience’s skill level

Even if the audience knows the subject quite well, they mightn’t have done this specific task, or they might’ve used different steps to reach the same end result.

Match your speed to your audience’s skill level, and don’t race.

 

3. Not using your mouse? Hands off it! (7:00)Scroll to Contents ↑

This is an important tip that too few do

For demo presenters, this is an important tip that too few do.

If you’re not using your mouse for a moment, let go to keep it dead still. Any movement would pull people’s focus away from what you’re saying.

 

4. Take the “golden path” (7:24)Scroll to Contents ↑

This is about using a short, simple path to the end result, which makes your demo:

  • More useful
  • Easier to follow

Eva mentions moving your mouse in straight lines, and using the fewest clicks you can. Or as I like to say:

Minimise mouse miles
and
Cut the click count 🙂

I’d say this also relates to not dwelling on things your audience already knows.

For instance, often people who demo a computer system start by showing how to log in. But unless there’s anything unusual about those steps, that just wastes people’s time. After all, it’s almost certain the audience knows how to type a username and password!

 

5. Show the workings (7:57)Scroll to Contents ↑

Mention (or avoid) keyboard shortcuts, and let people know when you double-click or right-click

You should mention (or avoid) keyboard shortcuts, and let people know when you double-click or right-click, or hold down a key while you drag, and so on – none of which are clear to your audience.

In the ASPECT model mentioned above, this relates to the C, which stands for clarity.

 

6. Describe the screen location (8:32)Scroll to Contents ↑

As Eva puts it:

Describe your actions so they make sense to people who aren’t looking

“Don’t say here/there, this/that
Eva Murray (8:51)

Instead, describe your actions so they make sense to people who aren’t looking at your mouse pointer at that moment, like by saying:

“At the top-left, click the red button

 

7. Start from scratch – or where your audience is at (9:46)Scroll to Contents ↑

I agree with showing the end result, and then (for example) going to a new worksheet and showing how to build that same chart.

“From scratch” is relative and depends on your audience

Still, in a way, “from scratch” is relative and depends on your audience.

For instance, if you’re demoing Tableau to people who’ve never used it, consider whether they know data-related terms like dimensions and measures, or if you should explain those too.

If your audience has already had some time with Tableau, do they know how to connect to the required data source?

All those factors can affect where you start.

 

8. Discussion: What about a backup plan? (10:03)Scroll to Contents ↑

For this, you might consider two issues:

  • Technical problems beyond your control, like crashes
  • Mistakes you make during the demo

Here, Eva and Andy focused on mistakes. If you can, it’s certainly good to keep calm (even if there’s a crash or similar).

In advance, think of a light-hearted line you can say, to show you’re unfazed

One thing you can do in advance – for either type of issue – is think of a light-hearted line you can say, to show you’re unfazed. Making light of the situation helps people (including you!) feel more at ease, and greatly reduces the impact of the problem.

Recently, a brilliant example I saw was when an online presenter’s computer froze. To smooth over the problem, the moderator on the call asked the audience what jokes they knew, and to type them in the chat.

That totally transformed a tricky issue into a fun few minutes. And as a result, the presenter also had enough time to recover from the glitch.

For more on preparing 1 or 2 lines you can say in case of problems during your demo, see 10 tech tips for webinars and online meetings.

Later in the video, Eva also answered a question about handling a major issue, like not being able to connect to wi-fi, or your laptop crashing. So check out this 90-second clip:

For related advice, see the post called How to give a perfect demo by Scott Berkun, author of Confessions of a Public Speaker.

 

9. Rehearse and practise (10:33)Scroll to Contents ↑

Simulate the big day as closely as you can

By setting aside time to properly prepare for your demo, you maximise your chance of a great outcome. For best results, simulate the big day as closely as you can, in terms of technical setup, running order, etc.

For example, recently I created some slides for someone else to present, and the deck evolved as we both worked virtually on it. For one of the slides I edited, I also kept the original as a hidden slide – in case he preferred it.

However, he practised by just scrolling through the slides, rather than running Slide Show mode. So he thought both slides would appear in his talk, and wrote his speaking notes accordingly.

Luckily, I mentioned the slide was hidden and wouldn’t appear in the slideshow. Otherwise, he might well’ve got rattled when it didn’t show up.

For more on preparing, see the P in the ASPECT model, which stands for preparation, as well as 10 tech tips for webinars and online meetings.

 

10. Discussion: Live or recorded demos? (11:25)Scroll to Contents ↑

As YouTube channels are so common, you could say recorded demos are the norm. But if you’re doing a demo for a specific event, then doing it live’s usually preferred.

Having a pre-recorded version could save the day

Still, having a pre-recorded version could save the day. That’d be the case if a major issue happens – as they often seem to in demos! It really depends on how important the event is to you, and how “bulletproof” a demo you want.

In the live chat on YouTube, you might also notice there was a neat comment about live versus recorded demos. Namely, ThinkOutsideTheSlide.com suggested using silent pre-recorded demos of less than 1 minute each, which you can narrate live. Great idea to guard against technical issues!

For more on this (like whether you can just show screenshots instead of doing a demo), also see my tips on how to do dynamic demos.

 

11. Build rapport and be authentic (12:32)Scroll to Contents ↑

I agree with Eva when she says:

“If you can be a very authentic person and
you’ve built a relationship with your audience,

you can charm your way out of anything!”
Eva Murray (12:36)

She and Andy used a great approach to help with that. Namely, near the start (0:45), they asked people to type in the chat where they were. Then, Andy remarked on some places people mentioned, saying he’s lived in Atlanta, and his son’s studying in Delft.

Usually I dislike chit-chat during events. But then thinking about it, I realised Andy had:

  • Bonded with people by saying what he had in common with them
  • Revealed things about himself, so people can relate to him as a person

Currently in my own demos, I focus heavily on the technical and content sides of things, and go to great lengths to keep things clear and uncluttered.

For instance, to reduce distractions, I make the browser (or slides) full-screen, and often even hide the toolbar in Tableau or Excel etc.

There’s a lot I can learn from Eva and Andy here!

So at the moment, I don’t leave myself much “mental bandwidth” for connecting with the audience. As a result, there’s a lot I can learn from Eva and Andy here!

Note that Andy’s Tableau demo resumes at 13:10, so this tip’s about 40 seconds long.

 

Over to youScroll to Contents ↑

Eva and Andy are experts in Tableau and data visualisation – and at giving demos. Whatever stage you’re at, you too can begin to apply their tips when you present.

I hope some of their tips resonated with you:

  1. Show the end result first
  2. Go slower than you think
  3. Not using your mouse? Hands off it!
  4. Take the “golden path”
  5. Show the workings
  6. Describe the screen location
  7. Start from scratch – or where your audience is at
  8. Discussion: What about a backup plan?
  9. Rehearse and practise
  10. Discussion: Live or recorded demos?
  11. Build rapport and be authentic

If you’ve any comments, queries, or questions, feel free to drop a message below

 

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