Given that the purpose of software demonstrations is to (1) build a vision of a solution or (2) show proof, everything we do in a demo needs to support these objectives. In demos we are working to “suspend disbelief” in our customer audience – in other words, we need to make the demo appear to be as close as possible to real life. Anything we do or show that is obviously fake hurts our cause.
Two examples of making a demo obviously appear to be fake are:
- The use of silly or obviously fictional names (e.g., “Mary Manager”, “Dave Departmenthead”, “Sarah Superuser”).
- Naming files or processes “demo” or “test”.
To these I add a third, slightly less obvious item:
- Dates and date ranges.
I was watching a demo recently and noted that all of the reports that were run and presented showed data from 1998 and 1999. This automatically makes one wonder about the software: Has it been updated since then? Are their QA test suites that old? Have they tried the system with current data?
The old data also impacted my attention. Instead of listening and watching the next steps in the demo, I found myself wondering and thinking about data from 1998…
The morals are clear: Use real-life names (people, files and processes) and use dates that are contextually relevant for the customer’s situation.