Demo: Live, Canned, or Somewhere in Between?

We are amid the Sixth iteration of Mobility Field Day – a great way for vendors to show off their latest and greatest. I’ve been lucky to be part of the Tech Field Day events for many years now.

One of the things delegates get to do is to sit through presentation after presentation, paying attention, taking notes, sending twitter messages, and following along on Slack channels as well. This takes a lot of energy and focus.

When it is time for the presenters to do their product demonstrations, we really must sit up, and take special care to watch and learn from their demos.

First, a couple of notes for anyone ever presenting to a technical audience, like at Tech Field Day events, or #WLPC, or even just a technical focused webinar.

1 – You do NOT need to ‘set the stage’.

There is no need to remind your audience what BYOD is, or list statistics of how much some feature is needed. We already get it! Don’t waste your precious presentation time on repeating trite marketing spiel – get right to the demo!

2 – Please, pretty please, PLEASE give us a graphic showing the details of your lab setup.

What parts are being used, how the demo is setup, etc. Basically, the graphic you used to setup your lab gear. We really do care about these things. Not showing it makes us feel like you are somehow hiding something – and your demo might feel more ‘magical’ – but the trust level is gone.

3 – Live or Canned?

Yep, we can tell in an instant if you are doing a demo live, on gear that might fail during the demo, or if you are merely starting and stopping a pre-recorded video of you doing a demo. Sure, we get it when something might take a long time and you don’t want to bore the audience. So, there are times to use a short video clip. But it should be a rarity, and not your go-to demo technique.

Take a chance, we really do understand demo gremlins, we’ve all lived through them before ourselves. It may be a bit of a risk, but it pays off big time in end users believing your demonstration is real, and that you trust your own gear enough to do a live demo.

Some of the very best EVAR Tech Field Day demonstrations are when the presenters allow the audience of delegates to get out our tools and be involved in the demo. Most of us carry spectrum analyzers, packet capture tools, and even just software tools to help us in our daily jobs. We LOVE being able to engage with the demo.

Feel free to show a Spectrum Analysis view along with a packet capture on screens in the room live. It will be appreciated.

I’ve worked with many Technical Marketing Engineers in the past, and there are tools, like Ixia Chariot that make TME’s lives so much easier. That is a given. But most of the delegates, and by far the great majority of those in the audience, both live and those watching the recordings later, do NOT have experience with these sophisticated tools. And don’t really trust the interfaces.

(Side note: We’ve all seen lots of vendor-sponsored ‘tests’ using such tools showing how the sponsor’s gear beats all other competitors… so many in the audience don’t trust those results. Especially since there are loads of complex and sophisticated nerd knobs that can be tuned to make one vendor’s algorithms look good, and the competitor’s look bad)

Just use things ‘normal’ end-users have access to.

iPerf, jPerf, Speedtest, FTP transfers, watching live 4K videos, etc. These are way less ‘accurate’ and/or ‘repeatable’ than using normal expensive TME professional tools, but this will go a long way towards getting that ‘trust factor’ back in your demos.

4 – Think Big

Please think of people trying to follow along on their smaller devices. You don’t have to drop down to resolution for a phone… but PLEASE think about the size of your fonts. Zoom in wherever possible to allow your audience to easily see what you are focused on. Additionally, if you can ‘highlight’ where you are talking about with some sort of technology, sure, we can follow your cursor, but if that is all you have, make it a BIG cursor. There are other technologies to have a brighter highlighted circle to even more show where your eyes and focus are, so we can follow along.

Thanks for listening to my early morning rant, now back to more Mobility Field Day presentations for the last day of #MFD6!