11 Ways to to avoid Incredibly Bad Demos

I had the fortune to sit through a demo recently where everything went wrong.  To the credit of the presenter (who had a large room of audience members) they were able to cover and continue with the overall presentation without letting it get to them.  

How can you ensure your demo doesn't go wrong?  How can you show technical concepts clearly without distracting or losing your Audience?
  1. Tell them what you will do, tell them you are doing it, tell them when you are done
  2. Get your screen set up early.  Size the screen resolution, window sizing before you get up to present, so that it doesn't surprise you
  3. Use large size high contrast and bold fonts and no more than 20 rows of text or data
  4. Full screen your demo. Hide any envelope program's like virtual layers. Close unnecessary windows, make OS screens look like standard vendor defaults.  Remove shortcuts and icons you don't need.
  5. Explain the meaning of the complex commands you run. Don't assume people know what you type on the command line, or quick sequences of clicks in your program window.
  6. Put optional or supplementary material in a tidy folder that is easy to reach and not distracting
  7. Don't play with the mouse or resize windows. Especially on webinars!
  8. Keep the conversation progressing while waiting for tasks to run. Have a good anecdote or description of the process that takes the time.  Ask for questions.
  9. Don't tell people the problems you have with your demo system. This lowers their confidence in the technology and defeats the purpose of demonstrating it.
  10. Caution people when you make a deliberate error - this can be a good thing to do - in moderation - but make sure we understand an expected warning or error.
  11. If the system really crashesapologize and explain what they should have seen and move on. Don't make it the end of the world.
As with any presentation, moderate the length to ensure you are meeting expectations.  A meeting or presentation doesn't have to explain everything there is about your product or solution. It should be entertaining, informative and to the point.