Just a few weeks back in early October, Google CEO Sundar Pichai opened a keynote that announced two new products: “Pixel” smartphones and the VR (virtual reality) headset “Daydream View.” At the end of this event, journalists praised Pichai for the simplicity in his presentations. During the keynote he talked about two complex topics: machine learning and artificial intelligence. But he succeeded because he spoke in a way that a non-technical audience could understand. To make people understand NLP (Natural Language Processing), Image recognition and other techniques he gave concrete examples of situations that we end users face every day. That was very effective. Also, if you observe his use of slides you will notice: no bullet points, no corporate logo, no heavy data charts and he wasn’t reading from the slides as many still do. He could have been more energetic, but he sounded confident and visionary.

When you see a keynote like this, you feel that presenting technology is easy. And there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. It’s easy if you follow some rules.

More recently in late October we saw another great example. A company that in the last years wasn’t enjoying a reputation for being an innovator suddenly changed its fate. It received a lot of praise in just a few days. Which company was it and what occurred? It was Microsoft after showcasing Surface Studio. It was an impressive product without any doubt. The announcement started with a very classy and inspiring promotional video projected on the auditorium’s screen. Then Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Devices Panos Panay began his presentation passionately explaining the product vision by saying “I believe that your ideas can be one of your most valuable assets.” He moved to present the very best capabilities, including the novel Surface Dial. He asked Cortana (Windows’ intelligent personal assistant) to play some David William Hearn music to give an example of a creator who inspires him and who makes his work on a Surface device. But the impact wouldn’t have been the same without a successful demo. In the demo Panay invited Madefire’s Ben Wolstenholme to show the digital workflow he uses to create comics. They nailed it!


“Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Devices Panos Panay shows the Surface Dial”

These are two great examples of presenting technology. So, what are the rules?

  1. Present just the minimum amount of information. Usually time is short. Don’t say everything you know but just what you need to convey your message. Pick the 3 most important points.
  2. Simplify. First, research your audience. Then find the simplest ways you can to explain everything. There is no concept too complex that can’t be simplified.
  3. Speak in concrete terms, never in abstract. Instead of telling that your product is the best tool in productivity and collaboration, tell us how it affects to a real person’s work life.
  4. Avoid acronyms, jargon and buzzwords. Don’t assume that everybody understands what “bleeding-edge”, “disruptive”, AR, and similar words mean.
  5. Use storytelling. Stories stick. Especially use storytelling with data, as Sundar Pichai did in his keynote.

You must be asking yourself, I am not an executive in a company such as Apple, Google or Microsoft. Do I really need this? I bet you do.

Beyond Presenting

What happens if a potential customer wants you to prove that your product is a fit beyond words, presentation slides, or specifications? What can you do?

You must give a demo. To be more precise, a great demo.

Unlike many believe, knowing your product upside down is not enough to give a great demo. Think of the common problems that can arise during a demo: technical glitches, your customers don’t understand the product or don’t see the value, interruptions (a notification popped up on your screen), Internet connection failed, questions too hard to answer, disengagement, and the list continues.

Knowing a proven formula for crafting and preparing a demo can be the difference between failure and success.

In the end, no matter if you present artificial intelligence or even more complex topics, it’s not about what you present. It’s about how. Follow these rules and you will have success and inspire your audience!

Want to know more? Join in the “Killer Product Demo” workshop presented by Oscar Santolalla on 01.03 & 03.03.2017 at HUB13
Get your tickets here!

About the author:
Oscar Santolalla, the host and producer of the public speaking podcast Time to Shine has worked in the technology arena for more than 10 years. Either onstage or on blogs he advocates making technical presentations and product demos that engage and inspire. Currently writing the book “Create and Deliver a Killer Product Demo”

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