6 Best Professional Software Demonstration Techniques

Cheyne Phillips
Senior Project Manager

You, the business owners have made it through the development of your software project. The product might still be in the alpha phase or perhaps you’re already in the beta phase. The next step is scheduling potential users to attend a soft launch. You are probably aware of the iconic product known as the iPhone. If not, I highly recommend you return to the rock you have been living under for the past decade. Back in 2007, Steve Jobs captivated the world with one of the most influential software demonstrations to date. He articulated how the product would change the world, why the features are cutting edge, what the product can do, who will use the device, and where the product will be used most. By the end of the demonstration, you felt you had to own this product. To garner a return on investment for your product, you must attract as many users as possible. I will share my demonstration expertise with you so your product will go viral.

Practice makes perfect

Have an exact plan of how to navigate the software you are demonstrating

Define the exact workflow you will use to tour the audience through the software. Some software features require multiple steps. These steps should be configured the night before if possible. This will help expedite the length of time needed to show a feature. Audiences tend to get restless if you are populating forms, inserting data, or fumbling through login failures. Preparation will give you the confidence needed to impress your audience.

Make sure all hardware is compatible

All hardware being shared should be compatible with the computer you plan on using

I typically bring my MacBook Air with me to an offsite meeting. If the meeting location is configured to use windows based operating system, I know to bring the compatibility dongle with me. If possible, ask if the meeting location has a projection based system, the size of the monitor, and the browsers installed. Your software might not be compatible with certain browsers or monitor sizes. Having this knowledge beforehand could save you from appearing unprofessional.

Have a fundamental understanding of the bugs in your software

Perfect software does not exist YET! Testing your software should uncover any bugs before your demonstration

All software should have a testing strategy in place. If you have a moment, please read a previously written blog that covers this topic in more detail: Proven testing strategies next software project. If you have scheduled a demo, there should not be any critical showstoppers with your software. The small bugs that exist should not affect the demonstration if you have a plan to navigate around them. If it is impossible to navigate around them, make sure to clearly point out the issue being resolved before entering the trouble area. This simple technique will validate your website development efforts.

Know your audience

Research who will attend the demonstration

The audience should reflect whom will ultimately use your software. Ideally, you would have had this understanding before developing your website. Point number three in the article 10 Tips To Build a Successful Software Project will highlight the importance of this. The audience should be, subject matter experts, influencers in the industry, and people that will provide actionable feedback. The goal is to impress the audience members and have them communicate with other potential end users.

The Demonstration should highlight a problem.The software should show the problem being solved. The solution should memorable and something the audience can easily articulate at the conclusion of the demonstration

A good way to start a demonstration is discussing the problem your software is solving. This can be any measurable metric. The common problems solved are operational improvements, centralized data, integration of systems, access to real-time information for different roles, and reporting systems. This problem should have been clearly defined in the beginning of the project and something the audience should be aware of. Next is the solution. The solution is your software. If you are familiar with an elevator pitch, the solution explained should follow a similar format. The problem and the solution explanation will provide a good introduction into the software demonstration.

Make sure to save time for feedback from the audience

Allow the audience to ask questions and provide feedback

The audience should be actual end users of your website. Allow them to be as critical as they would like. Negative feedback can influence changing a key feature that was not properly defined. I typically provide a few users with a computer and a link to the website. I navigate them to the login page and allow them to navigate the software without any help. If a pain point is determined to exist, I will document this for a development improvement. Resist the urge to guide the user through the platform. The user asking for help should indicate something is not intuitive and needs some user experience tweaks.

You should now feel extremely comfortable giving a software demonstration to all types of key end users. Be sure to add your own personal touch. This is your product and the enthusiasm you have for it will be uniquely your own. Try to be receptive to critical feedback. This type of critical feedback will inspire feature innovations that will make the software better for each type of end user. If you have yet to develop a software project, reverse engineer your potential idea from the point of view of a software demonstration. Imagine yourself sitting in a room with all of the potential end users. How would your idea inspire them to use your system?

- Cheyne PhillipsSenior Project Manager | 

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