The “Golden Rules” for a “Golden Demo” (Virtual)

I recently asked a wine maker friend of mine “What is it that makes a great wine?    After all isn’t is all pretty formulaic?”  His response was “It is 1,000 small decisions at the right time that add up to an amazing wine”.  I realized that that can also apply to demonstrations.  (…and wine, go buy some at

635795918746083754-1755269739_the-golden-ruleRecently our mid market SE team shared their Standard Demo with me.  The demo is a semi scripted approach to show off the capabilities of our platform tied to the customers needs.  While reviewing it there was a tab called “Golden Rules for a Golden Demo” and while many of these may seem common sense they are all things what we have done wrong in the past.

All credit for the below should be attributed to Greg Bass and Huxley Dunsany who were the genesis of this approach.  In fact, I have seen Huxley demonstrate these behaviors even outside of a demo.  The other day we were having a skip level over google hangouts video and every time he had to cough he would quickly reach up and mute the audio and unmet after.  Now that is attention to detail!  Another favorite quote of mine “Remember: you don’t need to be the smartest person on the call – you just need to be the most focused person on the call”

Thou Shalt Only Share Your Browser Window, Not Your Entire Screen

Remember: your demo must be a controlled experience, and selectively sharing only the browser window helps maintain this essential control

Thou Shalt Always Use A Multi-Monitor Setup For Demos

It’s important to demo from a workstation with two (or more) monitors – it allows you to share your demo browser on one screen while keeping this guide or other essential / helpful documents on your secondary display. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re interrupting your prospect’s view of the Portal with floating grey boxes

Thou Shalt Never Allow Your Instant Messages To Be Visible To Your Customer

If a customer can view your IM’s, your demo has already failed. Don’t use a browser that includes Google Hangouts or anything similar

Thou Shalt Use A Secondary Browser For All Demos (Firefox), With Important Resources Bookmarked And Open In Tabs Ahead Of Time

Your “demo browser” should be dedicated to this task – only relevant tabs and bookmaks (our Portals, the Simple Deployment Diagrams, a few common test sites like and, etc.). Don’t use the same browser you use for your day-to-day work

Thou Shalt Always Demo From A Scripted Portal Which Has Pre-Populated User Traffic. Thou Shalt Never Use A Personal Account For General Service Demos

The only exception to this rule is in specific limited circumstances where you need to demonstrate the effect that a change in the Portal has for an end-user (don’t make changes in the demo accounts!) – if needed, you may switch to a personal account to show a specific change, and then switch back to a controlled Portal to continue your demo

Thou Shalt Use Your Demo As A Showcase Of Our Amazing Service, But Not As A Showcase For How Smart You Are. Thou Shalt Be Comfortable Saying, “I Don’t Know, Let’s Follow Up On That Later.”

Channel your enthusiasm into giving the most controlled, compelling demo you can, and don’t be drawn into lengthy technical tangents or games of “Stump The SE.” Never be shy about responding to an overly-complex (or off-topic) question with a simple / friendly “I’d be happy to discuss that at a later date, but it’s a little outside the scope of this call. Can we follow up on that via email?” Remember: you don’t need to be the smartest person on the call – you just need to be the most focused person on the call

Thou Shalt Remember To Pause For Carefully-Selected Questions

At certain points during your demo, a carefully-chosen question can both help you tweak your demo to suit your prospect’s interests, while also helping your overall flow. Questions like “what security system are you currently using?” or “Are you currently decrypting and analyzing SSL traffic?” directly support the demo and suggestions you will be making, while also helping your prospect feel invested in the conversation you’re having, rather than feeling trapped in a demo that may or may not relate to their needs

Thou Shalt Use The WebEx ‘Pause’ Button When Doing Something That Breaks The Customer Experience Or Demo Flow

The Pause button in the WebEx controls is very helpful, and must be used if you need to switch windows, look something up, quickly test or investigate something, reply to an urgent IM, etc. – by pausing the screen-share on a neutral view of the Portal, you can complete your momentary task without your customer even realizing that you’ve switched gears briefly

Thou Shalt Always Move Your Mouse Slowly and Deliberately

Often times presenters move their mouse in a quick, jerky manner. Sometimes it may look like the presenter is scribbling with their mouse. This is distracting to the audience and takes focus away from both what the presenter is saying and the product being demonstrated.

One thought on “The “Golden Rules” for a “Golden Demo” (Virtual)

  1. good stuff! We came up of a list of good and things to avoid with respect to demo’s:


    1. Show an understanding of the customer’s technical AND business challenges.
    2. Demo’s are short, targeted to specific needs, and tells a story that improves the customer goals.
    3. Focuses on Unique Differentiation (what only “your company” can offer).
    4. The best demos are unique to that customer.

    Things to avoid

    1. Demos are not product feature tours. Usually, too much detail on product elements moves the conversation away from it’s overall value.
    2. Do not assume your customer ’thinks’ or ‘understands’ problems as you do.
    3. Do not assume the customer will see a feature and understand how it will add value.


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