You’ve been invited to sit at a technology demo by a supplier. Perhaps some new features of the platform you already use or a completely new platform your company just bought or…better yet, you yourself initiated the demo with an existing technology supplier. The demo is scheduled for an hour and sometime in the next couple of days you need to make the decision whether to buy this technology or go with another one.
Demo begins. It is Friday afternoon. People in the room. Sales person dancing by the screen with his techie side-kick right next to him. Budgets go into it, ROI, your team will be working on it, data will be flowing and yet….after about 21 minutes into the demo you find your mind wandering somewhere to other things you need to do this weekend. You look around and your colleagues around the table have all been staring at their smartphones except for Jim, your geeky IT guy who simply, bluntly…fell asleep. And this is only because his iPhone is at the shop being fixed.
We can blame the fact that we don’t REALLY care as it’s a work thing. We can look into the fact these guys have been pitching for 21 minutes straight (19 of which in the most monotonous voice). We may consider it is 1:34 pm now and we just came back from lunch and everyone is sleepy or even ponder around the notion of TGIF.
There are so many methods to pitch in a more interesting way, to demo technology and captivate your audience. Full libraries around the psychology of listening, brain breaks, DISC assessments and what not. And I urge you all to read as much as you can about it, understand it as it’s all true and very helpful. However, what I would like to point out here is the mere basics of the terminology. A demo. You gave a demo TO the team…, they sat in a demo DELIVERED by…, I demoed this TO them. However, you spin it, a demo is, by definition, a one-way type of communication. Someone presenting to someone else. One-way communication. Of course, there may be questions at the end but this is at the end, and as a response to what was already….demoed….in a one directional form of communication.
The main challenge with a one-directional type of communication is that the audience is never fully engaged. Never completely embedded. They can be wandering off, checking their phones or simply being bored. And so again, without getting here into the myriad of techniques to get them engaged, start by not calling it a demo. Stop thinking of it as a pitch or a presentation. Think of it as a 2-way communication, a conversation, a discussion, an experience. Could you imagine going into a discussion with someone where only one of you will be speaking? Can you imagine watching a boxing fight and only one of the boxers DELIVERS the punches? Annual review with your manager and you are doing all the pitching? How about calling a patient to discuss, say, their toothache they complained about and instead of having a conversation with them it is only you speaking TELLING them what you think. You will never be able to get the right information. You will never be able to fully understand their needs, their pain, their challenges.
Start by changing the terminology – instead of a demo call it a technology discussion, a conversation, an experience. Heck, even a chat is defined as a 2-way form of communication. Once you setup the terminology, everyone’s behavior (including yours) will follow.
"If you build it, they will come"
If that dancing sales person and their sidekick would have invited you to a technological DISCUSSION instead of a demo. If they would setup the room in a way that everyone is looking at everyone (instead of one presenting to many). If they created a DIALOGUE, a CONVERSATION (last time – go learn how, which techniques work best for you). Then, no matter whether you decide to go ahead with this vendor, you would have gotten the complete understanding of it, your team would have felt they are an actual part of it (and not just waiting for it to end and go back to their desks) and even your geeky guy without the iPhone would have felt empowered. Whatever it was, it was not……a demo.