A recent Great Demo! Workshop participant noted that traditional “overview” demos are similar to what he called, “Serial Serving”. Intrigued, I asked, “What is Serial Serving?”
He replied, “It is like being presented with dish after dish of food in a restaurant, none of which you requested, but you sample them as they appear – with the result that you are full before they finally bring something you really like…! Each dish is carefully prepared by the chef and served by the waiter, but without any input from the customer – an onslaught of offerings…”
I raised a questioning eyebrow… Obligingly, he elucidated:
“Imagine you walk into a nice restaurant and are seated at a table. The waiter doesn’t bring you a menu, however, he brings a plate of sautéed shrimp straight from the kitchen, saying ‘This is one of our most popular dishes…!’ Unfortunately, you don’t really like shrimp and ask the waiter to take the plate away.
The waiter returns and places a large bowl of cooked green-leaf vegetables in front of you, saying, ‘This is another popular specialty of ours: soy-seasoned spinach, collard greens, and kale.’ You try a few bites and it is acceptable, but not really what you had in mind. You push the plate aside…
The waiter reappears, this time with a plate of polenta, covered with a confit of red peppers and onions; he presents the dish, noting, ‘Nearly everyone likes this…!’ However, you are not really a polenta fan – you try a few bites and again push the plate away…
Now the waiter presents, in quick order: potato soup, a grilled beef steak (with special Spanish spices), stewed tomatoes, rabbit stew, cheese fondue, and pot-au-feu, commenting that ‘We just added these dishes recently and we are very excited about them…!’ You try small portions of each – and begin to feel a bit overwhelmed.
Without respite (and no entremets or intermezzo), our waiter delivers a platter of petit-fours, a carafe of cabernet, an urn of sea urchin roe, a bowl of braised Brussels sprouts (in a bold Bordeaux), a seared sliver of salmon (slightly seasoned with sesame), a mug of mugwort, a ramekin of rutabaga ratatouille (with a rhubarb reduction), and shots of soju, sherry, Sambuca, sangria, sauterne, schnapps, and scotch (several with peated barley, several with plain barley). Obligingly, you sample what you can (with a special emphasis on the selection of shots, most likely, at this point). You are now full, definitely overwhelmed – a bit concerned about the likely size of the bill…!
Sadly, you were never served what you really wanted (rack of lamb).
As you leave, the waiter asks, ‘What did you think? What did you like?’
You respond, not wishing to offend him, ‘Oh, it was all pretty good…’
He asks, ‘Will we see you back again?’
You reply, again trying to be courteous, ‘Oh yes…’ – but you have absolutely no plan to be back – ever…!
That’s Serial Serving – and it is exactly synonymous with what vendors do when they present traditional overview demos!”