3 Presentation Tips From a Product Demo

by Jill Foster on April 12, 2011

A colleague recently shared her pre-game angst for giving a product demonstration. She felt less confident about this particular demo, especially when envisioning questions from attendees that could favor her competition vs her product.

Here are 3 tips that helped her increase her sense of ease, confidence, and control.

1. Set the tone and cultivate an open dynamic early on.

She opened her remarks by overtly declaring her demo a full-on conversation zone; she distinctly invited curiosity about her work (and what they, the attendees, were looking for).

Leading the tone in this way was a simple, empowering move.

Cultivating this type of conversational environment head-on made my colleague feel like she was guiding the exchange (vs hiding nervously from potential questions).

2. Establish a clear, big-picture message and use that as a mental home base.

The nature of our products and services can be so carved out in our minds that a vivid, concise way to describe its meaning can get obscured.

Before the demo, clearly define and articulate a key message that captures the value of your product. Linking mini-stories to the key message can help make it all the more humanized, personal, and distinct.

As example: “My #1 interest is providing fantastic, fashionable footware that’s reasonably priced. Faculty at my alma mater are my best customers for this reason….”

3. Acknowledge competitor features, briefly, if prospects bring them up…

… but promptly re-direct attention to your product’s benefit. It can be natural to defensively respond when people affirm competition in the face of your product.

To diffuse your own anxiety and cultivate a sense of confidence, prepare ways beforehand to gracefully acknowledge competitor features should they come up i.e. “Yes Sallie’s Lime Cupcakes are tasty…”

And practice how to immediately re-focus attention on your product’s distinction.

For example, “I’ve found the bulk of my customers may try fruit cupcakes once or twice in the short term. But my customer community as a whole craves chocolate and vanilla. And we provide that in 85 creative recipes.”

(I’m now craving a cupcake—vanilla, not lime—in the most urgent way!)

Before signing off though, have you ever experienced anxiety before giving a product demo? What were ways you prepared when anticipating criticism from attendees?

More from Women Grow Business:

Cited by ForbesWoman as one of 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter, Jill Foster is principal of Live Your Talk and founding editor of Women Grow Business. Believing strong communities come from strong conversations (and thus public speaking skill), she specializes in speech coaching for women in technology. A social tech enthusiast, she co-founded DC Media Makers – a peer learning community that teaches digital technology. Jill won the Apps for Democracy Social Citizen Award for a co-produced project on how technology could help Washington, DC neighborhoods. During the 2008 presidential election, she fulfilled a lifelong dream by serving as a “Big Tent” credentialed blogger for the Democratic National Convention.

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