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  • Beth Anne Ashley

A Change Will Do Your Demo Good

I am a creature of habit. I drove the same car for 10 years, lived in the same house for 15, and had the same job as a software presenter for 17 YEARS! When asked how I did it for so long, even my reply was consistent: “but the system is always changing.” And after countless hours of learning the latest features, I realized the rapid technology updates I once dreaded were actually what kept me going.


When my company first switched to Agile development, I was dumbfounded. New functionality from sprint releases were flung at me with lightning speed. My life became the ultimate paradox: a person so stubbornly set in her ways forced to reconfigure her craft every couple weeks. I had to get a handle on it before I was totally overwhelmed! As I pried myself free from my proverbial box, I discovered three ways to get out of my demo comfort zone:


I. MODIFY YOUR ROUTINE

We are inundated with ways to renovate a bathroom, a kitchen, even our own bodies.

But for me, it was time to shake the dust off my dependable routine and give my worn-out presentation a makeover. I needed demo rehab! While prepping for a trade show, I vowed to do the entire session without falling into the PowerPoint deathtrap. Dare I boldly go where few Solution Engineers had gone before?


There are numerous tools you can use to amp up your demonstration - mine happened to be Prezi. Instead of enduring tedious slides, the audience went on a visual journey of our product storyline with seamless motion and zooming effects. For added engagement, the attendees read aloud from pre-scripted cards tucked under their seats to encourage interaction.


In the end, it was a big success and armed with only Prezi, PDFs, and Product – an impactful demo was delivered sans PowerPoint.


II. SWITCH YOUR PERSPECTIVE

From a young age, I was always at ease in front of an audience. Yet in recent years, I steered clear of the prestigious first row of my cardio dance class and hid in back. The very day I dared to venture forward, we turned our backs to the mirror, and I found myself in unfamiliar territory. I stumbled along on the opposite foot, completely thrown off by choreography I could do in my sleep! It dawned on me how altering your vantage point can have an extremely dramatic effect.


If you have never watched a recording of yourself delivering a presentation – it is a must! But get ready for some uncomfortable quirks! I never noticed how much I rock back and forth when I am not 100% confident until I saw it live on screen.


Switching your perspective can have a huge impact on how you deliver your message. If you haven’t considered the viewpoint of the person at the other end of the conference table, take a moment to before your next big meeting. It’s amazing what you discover when you walk in someone else’s shoes.


III. GROW YOUR MIND

I attended numerous Sales Training workshops over the years. During my favorite session, the instructor used a phrase that truly stuck with me: “When you are green, you are growing. When you are ripe, you rot.” Wow. I glanced down at a lonely black banana forgotten in the fruit bowl one morning and pondered, is that me???


As a seasoned presenter, this really hit home. You think you know it all and then one day you realize your skills have gone stale. Was I still doing the same old/same old? Was it time for something new?


I had been craving a real-world leadership opportunity to spice up my boring work life. I asked my manager for a small taste of Project Management but on a scale I could handle. She eagerly put me in charge of revamping our sample database. As a result, I became responsible for holding my colleagues accountable and ensuring their tasks were performed on time. Had I just dumped a giant pile of extra work on my already overflowing plate?


As it turned out, the project was exactly what I needed. Not only did our demo materials improve, but we collaborated as a team, and the product knowledge I gained put me ahead of the curve for once! Who knew volunteering my time would be the perfect recipe for overcoming my aversion to change?


CONCLUSION: CHANGE IS GOOD!

It’s natural to be apprehensive of change: fear of the unknown, uncertainty towards things we don't understand, and deviation from a dependable structure. But being too reliant on the usual thing traps us in our predictable ways and makes us mundane.


My Great Aunt had a crocheted version of this famous quote on her wall:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” -Reinhold Niebuhr


The profound truth here is that change is inevitable – so why fight it?

Stepping outside of your normal presentation agenda will bring significant improvements.

So go ahead and embrace it. A change will definitely do your demo good!

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