Please help a novice do a software demo
February 26, 2009 2:44 PM   Subscribe

I have to do a demo of a content management system. I was never completely proficient with the tool to begin with, and I haven't used it for two years. I'm not a programmer. I've never done a software demo before. And I have only the weekend to prepare. I need your help.

I've been asked to give a demo of a content management system for a client who might be interested in buying and repurposing it. We developed it for another client about four years ago, but it hasn't been in use for about two years. The original developer left, and our remaining technical people don't have the presentation skills(or the language skills) needed to competently deliver the demo to this particular client... so I'm the lucky bastard who gets to do it.

I was only a user of this tool, not a developer, and I have zero technical insight into the thing. To top it off, I've never done a software demo before. I've sat through a few so I know basically what should happen, but without any real in-depth technical knowledge of the tool I'm not really sure how to approach this, or even where to start.

So I guess my question is simply: how do I do this? The good news is, the people I'll be demoing this for aren't highly technical either, and don't have any real knowledge of CMS tools, so hopefully they're not expecting perfection. But any tips or advice I could get on how not to make a total idiot of myself would be greatly appreciated.
posted by Valuev to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
You go to the technical people who do not have the presentation and language skills and let them show you the system. They might not be good enough for the clients but they will certainly be able to show you the ropes of the system.

Then you make a nicely phrased presentation out of it.
posted by mmkhd at 3:02 PM on February 26, 2009

The technical people I need are not only in another time zone, they're not in the office tomorrow because they're at a conference. So having them show me the system before the demo is not an option. And no, I can't delay the demo until after they return, either.
posted by Valuev at 3:18 PM on February 26, 2009

Here is a rough outline of the steps I use:

1. Write out common tasks you will need to accomplish. For example, one task might be create a new press release.

2. Break down those tasks into steps. (login, navigate to news, enter in content, hit preview, test links/proof, hit publish)

3. Gather & prep assets to make the steps faster. Setup images & content in text files so you can cut and paste. You can group these assets into folders that match your tasks.

4. Think through your overview/setup conversation. A good format is blah blah this is the tool blah blah these are the 4 tasks I will show you in this demo. blah blah how about those cookies that jennifer brought blah blah

5. Practice

6. Trim/cut your tasks to fit your allotted time.

Never comment or apologize if you make a mistake or fumble. Nobody will notice.
posted by rdurbin at 3:35 PM on February 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Also you want to structure the presentation so that you have some components of it which you can drop if you're over-running.

I often find demo'ing stuff that it takes much longer to go through it than you might expect ... but equally you don't want to rely on that ... depends on the audience largely.
posted by southof40 at 5:07 PM on February 26, 2009

You don't need technical insight to demo a product. You need a connection with the client, which is why you don't send developers to demo product. You send sales engineers, but sure as hell not devs.

Figure out what the client needs. Start the meeting there. Show them the tool meeting their needs.

If technical questions you cannot answer come up, take notes - written notes, look professional! - and tell them you'll get back to them before X time on Y day with the answer.
posted by talldean at 6:33 PM on February 26, 2009

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