Six Apart News & Events

On the Road to DEMO

When Anil pointed Face-to-Face, the the weblog of Jambo Networks out to me other day, I was pretty excited to see another company documenting their experiences preparing for the event. This is exactly the sort of weblog that I think illustrates the essence of capturing a moment in time (in their case, preparing for and telling their customers about their road to DEMO). I can look back at our weblog from our first DEMO and be grateful that we were able to document our own experience.

DEMO, for those who are unfamiliar with the event, is a chance for companies to spotlight new products or new aspects of their products in front of hundreds of journalists, technologist and peers. You're given six minutes to demonstrate your product live and you don't go over the alloted time.

For me, the scariest part of DEMO was the technical rehearsal. We were put onstage, in front of an empty auditorium, watched only by the technical crew and some members of the production crew. While an empty room may make more people feel comfortable, I couldn't produce the adrenaline needed to truly feel like I was on stage. So, I forget my scripted lines and just stood in front of the crew as the clock counted down. Our first run-through was so completely horrible that they let us do it again -- thankfully.

The thing about DEMO is that the greatest fear for the demonstrators is that the demonstration won't work. We were showing off the mobile features in TypePad and were fairly certain that, if we had cell coverage, would be able to pull the thing off. Timing is the biggest factor in the Demo. If, like me, you have the tendency to speed up your speech when nervous, your Demo can end up being 3 minutes long. We were lucky and our demo worked and our timing was only a little off (we ran out of time before giving the pitch about our booth). Thankfully, for our nerves, when we go to DEMO this year, we won't be demonstrating.

I'm odd about public speaking. I'm either completely comfortable on panels or terrified doing presentations. I'll take a panel any day. In May I'll be participating at the D conference in San Diego. I'll be interviewed, in front of most every tech executive and journalist, onstage by either Walt Mossberg or Kara Swisher about blogging. I'm actually not extremely nervous since it will be a conversation and, as long as I don't have to prepare a speech, won't have the time to get really nervous. Of course, seeing the speakers I'm in the company of certainly might do something to wreck my composure.

It'll certainly be an interesting experience and I hope by interesting I don't mean remember-that-time-when-I-cried-onstage sort of interesting.