Nothing brings home a new or complex technology like a demo. Demos represent a chance to dazzle prospects with your technology in action, and they are critical elements at any stage in the engagement funnel. They can help get the next meeting or even seal the deal. The stakes are high.

And yet, despite the stakes, some demos dazzle while others dull the senses. What makes the difference between these two outcomes?

Powerful demos don’t just happen. They are crafted with vision, planning, and an expert eye. As you start planning your next demo, here are three crucial things to consider. Each one hides blind spots that can make your demo less effective and its production more painful.

#1: Tell a Vivid Story

A focus on features is the biggest mistake we often see in demos. You want your audience to have an emotional reaction, and that rarely happens when it’s all about the features. Instead, your demo needs to tell a story about your viewer—show how your technology will solve a business problem or make people more successful. Your story should have a beginning, middle, and end, so that it feels complete and drives its point home effectively. And remember—shorter can be better. Don’t make it a minute longer than it needs to be.

Your demo should answer three questions with its story: what is it? What does it do? And why do I care? The first two questions can be answered relatively quickly, and then the emphasis should be on the last question. Tell a rich and vibrant story based on a business problem. That is where your demo engages your audience and encourages them to see the technology at work in their own environments. Spark their imagination. Especially if you have taken the care to make your tech look amazing. Sometimes small investments in presentation value can make a big difference between boring and stunning.

So what story should your demo tell? Consult with your field reps or your best customers to answer this question. Working in the trenches, they know which stories will resonate by being centered on real business problems.

When you’ve decided what story you want to tell, it can help determine the form your demo should take. Demos can take many forms, from a video-only presentation to a live interface with a fully functional back end.

#2: Know Your Audience

Successful demos cater to the right audience at the right time and in the right format. Are you talking to business executives or technology executives? Technology managers or technology implementers? Business managers? The story your demo should tell will vary depending on the audience you want to engage.

You should also know the context in which your audience will view the demo. Will it be in a keynote format, where there are hundreds or thousands of viewers, or up close in a trade-show booth, where 1:1 interaction is possible? Maybe it is in a video or a webcast. Each of these contexts requires different levels of abstraction for the audience, and presents different challenges to making the demo pop.

Every demo should have one or more magical moments. Aim to surprise and delight your viewers when you show your prime differentiators. Show them something they haven’t seen before, or something they haven’t seen done in this way before. This can solidify your technology and brand in your viewers’ memories.

Don’t neglect your partners when thinking about audience. Who are the applicable partners, and how can you engage them or help to tell their story with your demo?

These considerations are not mere details—they cloak dramatically different expectations and requirements for which you’ll need to plan in advance.

#3: Get Ongoing Returns

Don’t forget to think about the afterlife of your demo. Some careful planning can make sure it has legs. After its first use, perhaps at a trade show, how can you continue to extract value from it? You will have invested a lot of resources into the demo by that point, and you should expect to get maximum return on your investment—without having to start over with your team and leadership. You’ll also want to ensure that the sales team stays on message and on brand with the demo and the solutions it illustrates.

Maybe you’ll want to build a platform on which multiple demos can be based. That way you can reinforce the messaging about your technology from multiple angles for multiple audiences and situations. Perhaps it could be hosted on the company intranet or your team’s cloud for the field to access. Maybe you’ll want to make a video from it or produce collateral that drills down into details not covered in the demo. Think about this now so you can more effectively plan to re-use your demo over and over.

Ready to plan your next demo?

Short of a proof-of-concept, a demo might be your best opportunity to show extraordinary technology in action. Even early release or preview products can tell a great story, and you can work around their limitations to ensure a smooth viewing experience. Make sure your planning encompasses the story, audience, and your demo’s long life and you’ll be that much further ahead of the curve.

Prowess has created dozens of demos for some of the world’s largest technology companies, and we can help you at every stage from planning to execution. Our in-house expert engineers, writers, and designers can bring your solutions to life in ways that other, non-technical agencies can’t. Contact us to discuss your demo at To keep up with emerging trends and technologies, follow Prowess on our blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.