Here’s how to do a perfect product demo for your startup

Here’s how to do a perfect product demo for your startup

This article will take you 7 minute(s) to read

Doing a demo of your product in an investor pitch (or any pitch for that matter) is a powerful tool, if done right. After all, having a convincing product proves to investors that you have a strong team that can turn ideas into reality. These are tips Ozz Häkkinen and I discussed in Episodes #012 of Startup Milestones (available on iTunesAndroid or YouTube). Ozz raised €2.700.000 for his startup Futurefly using these methods.

Use the right device

“When you present a mobile app, never ever demo it on a TV. You want to show your application natively off the device that it is intended to be on, with a touch screen, on the phone or tablet – and give it to people to try”, says Ozz, who has done demos of his mobile app Rawr Messanger hundreds of times. In his previous job working for game company Remedy Entertainment he did demos of console computer games – in which situation he would of course use a TV to demo. But again, he would make sure to give the demo the perfect appearance: for instance, he and his team would create a list which would list the perfect color settings for every TV set imaginable. So wherever he went to do a demo, he could set it up for maximum effect. Wham!

Think about this for your own type of product. A mobile app? Bring a device. Hell, bring 5 devices if you want everyone to have a go at trying the app out in a meeting. If its a web solution, make damn sure to know how to set the screen or TV up for your demo in a way that enables you to deliver the highest impact. (also see point “Got your cables?”)

Got your cables?

Make sure you have all cables, adapters, dongles, chargers, etc with you. Demoing on a device provided by the meeting host? Be damn sure you can connect to it. Ozz and his team at Remedy would have a whole suitcase full of cables, adapters, spare batteries for console controllers, etc. Demoing abroad – will your power cable fit the socket? Bring 2 pieces of everything you actually only need once – the devil never sleeps! Don’t let something as silly as a missing or broken piece of insulated twisted wire (aka “cable”) ruin your presentation or steal valuable minutes off your clock. It is show time – you have to shine!

Script your presentation

“Real sales guys don’t need to practice” – that’s pure bullsh*#! “Winging it” is not the way to go. Look at it like this: don’t put yourself in a position where you need to use energy and attention in every presentation to find the right words and avoid forgetting a key point. Instead: write a script, Ozz calls is a “speak”. Really write down your whole presentation word by word, and then learn it by hears (see next point).

Once you have written it down, revise and optimize it to make it sound fluid and natural. Make sure that the key points are understandable, even by an audience that is not that deep of an expert as you are in your field.

Ozz revises his speaks 10-15 times before it is good enough to actually be used in a pitch. That is a lot, and shows you, how much room for improvement there is, and the amount of time you must be willing to invest. But invest you should: because each and every one of those initial investor meetings are make or break. You have to bring your A game!

Learn it by heart

Learn your script – know it word for word. The exact words. This makes sense for two reasons:

  1. Your revised script will be optimized for maximum impact. Every word was selected and refined carefully. It would be a shame if you cannot deliver it exactly like that.
  2. Knowing your script by heart, or “having it stored in your back bone”, as Ozz calls it, frees up your mind to focus on other important things during your presentation (see next point).

Here are some methods Ozz uses to memorize his speaks – and it takes him about 2 days to get it memorized, so don’t get inpatient if you don’t have it down after a couple of hours:

  • record the speak into your mobile phone, then play it back and listen to it on your commute to the office (listening re-enforces the learning; it is an additional channel to writing, reading and recalling that helps you memorize faster and deeper)
  • recite your speak to your partner or a friend – have him/her correct you on every single word you deviate from the script
  • at first, focus on memorizing the words; once you have that down, focus on intonation, speed, voice, etc. to optimize for impact of your presentation.

Use you spare attention

Once you can deliver your presentation “from your back bone”, you have freed up a lot of your attention that you can now use to really nail it. Real presentation pros don’t only deliver “the perfect pitch”, they are very good at reading the audience: picking up their reactions and mood. You will be surprised how much you will be able to pick up, because you actually have spare attention to spend on this.

Some examples of how to leverage this and really nail it:

  • you see eyes light up at a certain point? Double down on that topic! And make a note of this, as you can be sure that you can (re-)activate the person with that topic at any point in the future, be it in the same meeting, to get him off a negative topic, or when re-engaging with that person to setup of the next meeting or during the next meeting.
  • it also goes the other way around: see frowns, wrinkles on the forehead or the like? You can score killer points if you address this later on, saying something like: “I had the impression from your reaction to … that you might not agree 100%. This is an important topic to me, too. Please share your concerns”. Getting that topic out in the open gives you a chance to disarm it; letting it go unaddresse might kill your deal without you even knowing it.
  • feel the energy in the room – is attention going down? Speed up, skip to your next “killer point”, or engage the audience e.g. with a question.

Again, being able to pick up these vibes and enabling yourself to react to them can be make or break – this is where your investment into learning your script by heart starts to pay off once more.

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