Are you exploring how to convince your company to convert to XenDesktop? Be aware that, at some point, someone is going to want to see it in action. This means a demonstration (aka demo).
Is this a big deal? Well, in a word, YES. Other blogs on this page discuss the many benefits of XenDesktop and the many great reasons to convert to it. However, even with a great presentation given by a great presenter, a failed demo can kill the deal. If it doesn't work in the demo, your audience will think it doesn't work, period! Executives and senior management will especially be swayed by this - they generally don't know or care about technical details, and they will be on the hook for a failed deployment. At the same time, a successful demo can make a great impression on your audience. No matter how good your slides are, a good demo will stick in their minds ("Did you see how it did THIS OR THAT??? Awesome!").
So... what can you do to ensure a great XenDesktop demo?
1. Don't Shortchange Yourself on Equipment
There is a temptation to treat demo equipment as an afterthought. But keep in mind that you will probably be showing your demo to people with decision-making authority - people you need to impress. So - run your demo on a good laptop, and make sure the back end infrastructure is solid too. If you are going to demo tablet capability, make sure the tablet you use is working well too. You never want to be in a position of having to explain why the demo did not work. Executives don't like excuses, and they don't like their time wasted. But solid equipment is not enough...
2. Test Everything!
It may sound obvious, but you really do need to test everything you are going to demo. The more testing, the better. In fact, if possible you should try to "live in" your XenDesktop test environment for a few days before the demo. This will allow you to "smoke out" annoying interruptions that take time to show up, like:
- Microsoft (and other) license validation requests
- Patch requests (or even forced installs) for:
- ... and who knows what others?
- Outlook email alerts (this will remind you to turn these OFF)
Use the system for a while, because you never know just when some of these might show up... except that you can be almost positive that they WILL show up in the middle of your demo if you don't want them to! Sound familiar?
If you are going to demo an iPad (for example), then at a minimum connect to it once or twice a day. The iPad uses additional infrastructure, and if this infrastructure is not in production yet, you need to be sure that no one turned it off without telling you.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
Any demo is a lot like a performance - and successful performers practice A LOT. So practice your demo - even if it seems simple and you know the material backwards and forwards. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your presentation and/or demo:
- 10-20-30 Rule - Write your presentation from your audience's perspective. Highlight less than 10 critical points that are important to them; make your demo less than 20 minutes long to prevent information overload and boredom. If you have a slide show, make the font size no less than 30 point to emphasize and make legible your points. In fact, it's good to mix up both a slide show and then transition into a live hands-on demo. Make eye contact with all onsite attendees (i.e., not just the decision maker) in an effort to engage everyone and avoid alienation. Memorize as much as possible. Watching someone reading from notes is boring. If you memorize your content, you can interact with your audience and move from straight presentation towards conversation.
- Time your demonstration - especially if you have a fixed time window! Consciously slow down your speech and pause at critical parts for emphasis. Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to talk way too fast. You should be able to summarize your subject in 15 minutes IF it is concise. If not, rewrite it until you can. Make sure you can finish a little before your time limit so you can take questions.
- Run through every step of the demo when you practice. Don't assume that a step is trivial and will work every time - that is the very step that may trip you up in the demo.
- Practice your demo on the same equipment you will use for the actual demo (to the extent possible). This is not possible for every piece of equipment - for example, you may not have access to the executive conference room to practice in.
- Have fun - Sound impossible? With a little practice you can inject your passion for a subject. Naturally, your voice tonation will vary which helps to keep your audience engaged. Enthusiasm is contagious!
If you know you will need additional infrastructure requirements, check with the person responsible for the meeting facility ahead of time to ensure that they will be available. Don't assume that a projector and screen will be there - be sure to ask for them if you need them. If you need wireless network connectivity, arrange for that as well.
5. Arrive Early!
If at all possible, arrange to arrive early for the demo to make sure that things are working as you need them to. Things to check:
- Can your laptop interface with the presentation projector?
- How is the image quality?
- Will people be able to see what you are doing on the screen?
- Will there be remote attendees viewing your presentation?
- Is the network performance good enough?
Ideally, you should run through your demo (or at least part of it) in the room before the meeting. This can minimize the chance of something like an unexpected Windows Update firing off in the middle of the actual demo.
Problems? Fish or Cut Bait
If, at any point during your preparation, you run into issues that will either:
- Cause the demo to fail outright, or
- Prevent the demo from working well and looking good
... you may have to consider cancelling the demo. In some cases, no demo is better than a bad one. Communicate with your team frankly about these problems as soon as you see them, so that you can make the call together.
Seize the Demo Opportunity
A demo is a great opportunity to show what XenDesktop can do. Take full advantage of the opportunity, so that your demo will shine - and your company can ultimately reap the many advantages of XenDesktop.