Sunday, September 14, 2008

Debilitating Demo Diseases - Rambleitis

Rambleitis - Run-on Demo (aka Demo Diarrhea)

Symptoms: No pauses, no breaks, no interaction with audience – often compounded by Conjunctionitis, fits of Whooping If and Zippy Mouse Syndrome.

Examples: “…and the really cool thing about this is…”

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

Cure: Inject pauses at least once per segment, at the end, and repeat as frequently as needed. Treat commensurate Conjunctionitis with the use of Biased Questions, designed to give the audience the opportunity to interact (e.g., “Many of our other customers have found that the ability to ____ saved them hours every week. Is this something that might also be of interest to you?”) Turn the demo from a unidirectional, fire-hose-delivery presentation into a bidirectional conversation.

An older cure, still applicable in extreme cases, is to place the patient in an ice bath until unable to speak…


Nick said...

This is great advice, Peter. Nothing's worse than dealing with someone who is going on and on about features/functionality that I don't care about. I have a question for you, though. I agree completely that demos should be a conversation, but what do you recommend when the person you're demo-ing to has Rambleitis? For example, they need to tell long stories to ask a simple question. What's the best way to ask them to get to the point without coming across as rude?

Peter E. Cohan said...

Hi Nick,

One strategy that works very well is to manage this using a "Not Now List" or "Parking Lot" - and to gently (but firmly) capture the key elements of the question, write it down, and then equally gently but firmly defer the question until later (for example, until the Q&A section of the meeting).

Rephrasing while writing down the core of the question helps the asker relax and let's him/her know that you WILL address it later on.