Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Dreaded “If”

There are a handful of phrases that put fear and loathing into my heart when I’m on the receiving end of a demo – here are a few:

“…Let me start by orienting you to our navigation and layout…”

Oh my god. I don’t what to learn how to use your software yet; I don’t even know if it does anything that will help my business. The last thing I want at this point is product training!

“…Now I’ll show you our context-relevant help system…”

Double oh my god. This suggests that I’ll need the help system, because your software is complex, complicated, and downright user-hostile.

“…and another really cool thing about our software is…”

This phrase is used, often frequently, in what are known as “run-on demos”. These are demos without a break, without a pause, and typically no introduction or summary for any particular segment. These demos are one-way, painful tirades from presenter to audience.

The phrase above strikes terror into the heart of typical audience members because it really means, “now I’m going to show you something else that you likely don’t need and aren’t interested in, but you can’t escape while I’m still talking…!”

“…and the next thing I want to show you is…”



The dreaded “if”. It starts innocuously enough, with a single “if”, such as, “Now, if you want to submit it then you choose ‘OK’…” But “if” appears to need company, and will clone itself…repeatedly! Here’s an example:

“Now, if you want to submit it then you choose ‘OK’… But if you want to change the color, then you go to our color palette which I’ll show you now…, or if you need different sizes, then you click here where we have our sizing wizard which operates like this…, and if you want to share it with other colleagues then let me show you our collaboration tool…”

It may never stop!

The dreaded “if” generally precedes an exhausting, interminable review of all possible options and choices, shown to the audience in excruciating detail.

When you find you are about to say “if” in a demo, consider asking the audience if they are interested in seeing the capabilities you have in mind before proceeding!

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