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Update: Check out also our 10 tips for recording your DemoJam video

With submissions to TechEd DemoJam 2013 now open, it is time to start thinking about that great demo you’ve always wanted to submit to TechEd DemoJam. We have collected below ten tips from past DemoJam winners and demo coaches that are sure to improve the quality of your DemoJam demo. Special thanks to Mark Thomas Schuette for contributing many tips from his experience as a DemoJam demo coach.

1. Tell a story

Listening to stories is how we learn as children – and also as adults. Good stories are easy to remember and hard to forget. Tell a good story and your audience will not only remember your demo, they will also remember you. What makes a good story? Remember the acronym SUCCESS: Story, Unexpected, Credible, Concrete, Emotion, Simple.

2. Make your demo memorable

When the final voting comes, you want the audience to clap their hands for you. But will they remember you? Try to bring an unexpected element into your story. Bring toy trucks for a warehouse management demo. Dress up as Dr House for a healthcare demo. If the name of your demo is the atrocious pun “Store Trek”, dress as Star Trek characters. All examples taken from TechEd DemoJam 2012 in Madrid.

3. Obsess about the first 60 seconds

The first 60 seconds are your only chance to capture the audience’s attention. After that it is gone, mobile phones come out of pockets and you’ve lost your chance to impress.

4. Remember this is not about you

A demo is not a job interview. A demo is not a sales pitch A demo is not a project review either. Do not tell us how smart you are or how innovative your company is. Show us what you built and let your work speak for yourself. Impress us with how good you are at making the topic understandable. Then we’ll all see how smart and innovative you are.

5. Short demos are good demos

Six minutes is the upper limit, not the goal to aim for. The best demos often finish within 3-4 minutes. If any part of the demo script is not essential to your key message, or is not a technical highlight sure to impress your fellow geeks, leave it out.

6. Know your audience

DemoJam is an on-stage event watched by a usually tired audience at the end of a long day. They have already had a full day of lectures and hands-on trainings and their memory capacity and attention span is rather limited. They want fun, energy and passion. They want to be impressed and inspired. The TechEd audience is a largely technical audience. They want facts, data and evidence of your technical excellence. Don’t give them a polished message that smells of marketing speak.

7. Rehearse early, rehearse often

You will only know that your demo “works” if you try it multiple times in front of a critical audience that is not familiar with the topic and if you accept constructive criticism and are open to suggestions. There is no shortcut to rehearsing. Rehearsing will also do wonders for your self-confidence.

8. Watch yourself demo

Absolutely everybody hates it, but watching a video of yourself presenting your demo is the most effective way to improve. Your self-esteem can and will suffer in the process. You will discover how your voice sounds, how fast you speak, your energy level, your posture and annoying habits such as the use of filler words (“uhms” and “ehms”),

9. Fun is really hard work

If you want fun, work hard at it, rehearse a lot and accept ideas from others. Let the fun element of the demo support the demo rather than distract from it.  If you’re not sure about a joke or reference, leave it out. Never start your presentation with a joke. It if falls flat, you won’t recover from it.

10. A demo is an investment, not an expense.

Preparing a demo, even if it is rejected, is never a waste of your time. Working hard on your demo will make you a better presenter and will help you in every situation when you have to explain what you do and why you do what you do.

That’s it! Don’t forget that this year again you can get free TechEd DemoJam demo coaching from past DemoJam winners and coaches. Details of this TechEd DemoJam Demo Clinic offer will be announced in the next few weeks. Coaching will be available on a first-come first-serve basis to teams that already have a demo story (see point number 1 above) ready and want to improve through feedback (see point number 7). This offer is specifically targeted at first-time DemoJam submitters.

So stay tuned, and in the meantime happy demo storywriting to everyone!

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