Getting A Demo Spot

(Editor’s Note: Reposted from shiftMode 2010)

We turned a particular corner with DemoCampGuelph events last year that personally makes my life a whole lot simpler, that being that we now consistently have more people applying to demo than we have spots. The plus for me is that I don’t spend the week of the event begging every human I know who owns a computer to demo something. The down side is that we don’t get to see all the demos possible and we have to say no to some people. I thought I’d take a few minutes to write up a few tips on how to increase your odds of being selected to demo.

First a brief primer on the event itself, in case you haven’t seen enough from me yet. I’ll start by deferring to seyDoggy: “At DemoCampGuelph everyone is a pony and they eat rainbows and poop butterflies…I mean DemoCampGuelph is geeks, beer and startup. It’s all good!

Ok, I’m not sure what that means but it hits all the sweet spots, those being ponies, rainbows, butterflies, and beer. How about this? “DemoCampGuelph is for anyone in and around Guelph interested in software, the web and technology! Startup junkies, wage slaves, consultants, students, indie professionals, engineers, designers, money and marketing guys. If you want to see and talk about some interesting things, and get to know other people in the Guelph tech community, come on out! You don’t have to demo to attend.

As you were conditioned when completing your phd, please pay particular attention to the emphasis! Tell us why your demo matters to techies in and around Guelph. This is demoCampGuelph. There, I’m done with that point.

Beyond that, shorter is better for your pitch as my brain can no longer seem to read beyond the 140 character point. As expected, our audience is up on technology and they’re connected, both within our attendees and without. Where DemoCamp‘s differ from other events is that it isn’t about you as the demo’er, it’s about us, the audience.

Yes it’s a great opportunity for you to market an upcoming, or existing product. Yes, it’s a great chance to find a funder or a job but the only reason this event exists is because we all love attending. We will always favour people who recognize that and demo things we want to see. So, picture yourself giving up a few hours of your possibly precious time on a work night to drag your butt to a bar and listen to some random stranger talk to you about computers, what would you want them to talk about? Getting a demo spot is your opportunity to give something back to us lowly wage slaves who climb out of our closets every few months so treat it precious and use it well

Oh, and from experience, puppets can only help…

Demo Tips

(Editor’s note: This is being reposted here from shiftMode)

By the end of this week I’ll have organized and hosted 13 DemoCampGuelph events. Along the way I’ve seen some incredible demo’s. I’ve learned, I’ve been impressed but I’ve also been embarrassed and outright skeered. People often ask for tips and information related to demo’ing but to be honest I’m not the expert. While I have demo’d at other events such as DemoCampToronto, I’m only the mc. You wouldn’t ask Whoopi Goldberg how to win an Oscar would you? (Let’s pretend she only hosted the oscars and didn’t win two of them as well…)

So, now that I’ve told you not to listen to me, here’s a few quick tips if you’re thinking of demo’ing:

  • DemoCamp’s are not pitch events. Don’t pitch or market to the crowd, no one’s here to be sold to.
  • Don’t delude yourself. You’ve only got 5 minutes! You can’t demo the entire feature set of your CRM that’s going to save the world so don’t try. Pick an area within your product or a specific feature or workflow that will interest the crowd and demo that alone.
  • Focus your message. Just because this is a demo event doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on a message we take away from your demo. What’s the sentence you’d like me as a listener to type into twitter when you’re done? Thinking this way helps focus your demo and hopefully have a consistent flow to it.
  • Be prepared for technology to fail and keep presenting. If you get 5 minutes to pitch to a key investor, they aren’t going to wait 15 while you work out wifi issues. Have something prepared if the network or projector or mic etc fails. Improvise and keep moving.
  • It’s cliche but take your time and have fun. This is a community event of peers who appreciate you putting the time in to show what your passionate about so chill and enjoy the experience. You can stress out on your wedding day.

Some great tips from DemoCampGuelph12’s Crowie award winner Tony Thompson:

  • “First off, some kind of a presentation outline is good. I just use point form notes. Make sure you have some detail you can cut out, or insert on the fly depending on your audience interest.”
  • “The eBar is a big room. The audience will not be able to see you as much as they can see your live demo — so your demo must work and look nice. When you want to make a point, you won’t be able to do it with your facial expression alone, you’ll have to do it verbally as well.”
  • “Keep any graphics simple and to the point. To anybody more than halfway down the bar, the projection screen will look like a file card, and they won’t be able to make out any fine detail.”

Tony left out his secret sauce, more robots = good.