It’s all in the presentation

With as many trade shows as I attend a year, I probably see more keynote and demo presentations than television shows. As such, I’ve become quite a critic of people giving the presentation and the way they get their message across.

We’ve all been to those presentations where someone seemingly has been droning on for an hour-and-a-half, only when we look at the clock, we realize it’s only been 20 minutes. People who give presentations like this possess the unique ability to take a potentially interesting topic and put everyone in the audience to sleep.

I’ve been thinking abut this after attending a flurry of demos at this week’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) trade show. One presenter stood out from the crowd and actually made me stop and take notice not only to what he was saying but how he was saying it.

I saw Apple’s Phil Jackson give the SoundTrack demo during the Final Cut Studio announcement last Sunday, and it was amazing. Everyone did a good job, but Jackson, part of Apple’s pro apps division, commanded the crowd from the time he walked on stage. He walked to the center of the stage and declared that he had something amazing to show us—and the crowd went quiet, waiting to see what he had.

What was truly amazing is that Jackson had the power to control the crowd through his actions. The crowd sometimes laughed, clapped and generally responded to whatever Jackson was saying. Considering he was on stage no more than five minutes, that was quite a feat.

Thinking that perhaps Jackson simply had a very good day, I stopped by Apple’s booth later in the week to watch a much longer demonstration that he was giving to the packed crowd at the theater. Suffice it to say, it was no fluke. Jackson took control of the stage again, engaged the audience in what he was doing and made us feel like we were contributing to the demo. That half an hour session felt like 10 minutes and everyone wanted more.

“That guy is like a rock star,” someone remarked to me after the demo. Indeed. People that visited Apple’s booth will certainly remember the SoundTrack Pro demonstration, both for the features of the application and the presenter.

That’s what a product demo should be like.

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