How to Demo Authentically explores how inauthentic presenting affects your audience and deal velocity. We offer practical guidance on how to demo more like yourself. This is a supplement to our Demo Identities Framework, which we suggest you take a look at too!
Why Authenticity Matters
Many of us mask who we are during demos or assume different identities because we are insecure and we ultimately fear rejection. If we present ourselves as someone we think the audience will like, then the audience will approve, and then buy our products.
If we could assume different identities, this would work. But people know when they are being sold, whether it is a personality or a product. So many times when you are demoing with a mask, people can tell in delivery (using filler words), emotional connection (telling non landing jokes), and nonverbal cues (just not getting it). Connecting is about behind the mask. Get vulnerable with your audience. Here are our How to Demo Authentically tips for dropping the mask or identity, or as it were with a mask, provided it is Halloween or for pandemic protection.
Telling a story or opening with a story is a great way to connect with your audience if you have rehearsed it so often that you can be vulnerable to telling it. Yes, you need to practice your stories in front of multiple audiences before your demo. Never try a new story on an audience. Why? If you lead with an unsolicited story to try to connect emotionally with an audience, you violate their trust because you lack their permission to feel together.
Storytelling just got a lot harder right? Why not just tell the feel-good story about my kid or my dog in my demo script, then jump into the demo? Because your body language and your mind are not in unison if you are delivering a story and calculating your next move while telling it. You need to be completely present in your story, which means that the information following also needs to be delivered completely in the present. In order to be completely present in your presentation, you need to do lots of practice and exercises. Chairwork, Making Small Talk, and Demo Openers can offer more guidance.
How can I demo and listen at the same time? Your presentation should connect with your audience and bring them value. If you deliver a demo without listening and without a dynamic deck and script, you are going to lose the audience and your deal. You need to practice active listening. What is active listening? We have a lot of content on this here, but basically, you need to read body language, ask open ended questions, and respond to your audience throughout your demo. Active listening ensures your audiences’ needs are being met.
How can I meet audience needs by not talking? Non verbal communication is critical in demoing authentically. When you ask a question of your audience, listen to offer solutions, do not listen to move ahead with your agenda and offer a hollow response. Observe the audience in posture and facial expressions. So many times, this is where we find presenters using fillers and when problems arise that are beyond repair. If you are not listening to your audience and in active observance, you are going to miss these non-verbal cues they send you that could either close the door or close the deal.
Emotion and Passion
These words may make people feel really uncomfortable as advice in a business setting. Sadly, passion and emotion are politically charged and often negatively assigned. We are using them in their pure form and as a really powerful selling tool. You need to connect with an audience emotionally and your passion for your product or whatever you are talking about, will come through. This works in storytelling or an anecdotal scenario, but also in a solution scenario if you build up your pitch to the crescendo of the solution. Passion and Emotion are also contagious. People long for connection and everyone in a group wants to feel included. Delivering content that is inclusive (plug here on how to deliver inclusively) and that is exciting with emotion and passion, is going to be well received.
Brene Brown has incredible books on vulnerability in the professional setting that we highly recommend. Much of her studies are on vulnerability, shame, and connection. When preparing for your demos, whether it is a long time in advance or just twenty minutes, tap into your vulnerability. The basis of which, hey, we are all people, we all have needs and this is just an exercise of fulfilling needs of average people. You are going on a journey with your audience and communicating the information that they need. No one is out for you to fail and being completely open and honest with your audience about what you are delivering is the best way to gain trust. Get on their level as much as you can and become their trusted ally.
Practicing How to Demo Authentically
Each of these elements from storytelling to active listening, to delivering with passion and emotion, does the same thing. They make the audience feel like you are with them, on their level, sharing with them, rather than delivering something super rehearsed. You rehearse your content in front of multiple audiences, Then you practice active listening, chair work, and other communication exercises to be able to listen and respond to your audience. This is how you start to craft an authentic demo and to demo authentically.
There is one last piece to the authenticity in presenting, the practice of mindfulness plays a big role. We will have more content coming on this soon, but mindfulness practices help you remain present in your demo in the face of objections by clients, perceived threats to your safety in communication, and what happens when your demo tech fails.
We hope that these offer just a small glimpse into what our coaching teaches. Demoing is a process. Becoming complacent in your delivery, costs you deals because it comes off as inauthentic and the audience checks out. Demo with your audience, not to your audience.