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Giving Great Product Demo: Screencasting, Baby!

Mark Suster’s article on giving great great group presentations was an interesting read for me, but not too much new stuff.  As most people who know me can testify, things like “show energy, make it unique, keep it simple, learn how to structure, make it visual” all come second-hand.  I am such a good speaker, that I rarely even need to practice!  I don’t mean to brag, but that is simply a fact.  If you average it out, I have probably done a presentation or two per week for more than 20 years now.

But even I can learn a new trick or two from time to time.  And the point I want you to take away from all that bragging in the first paragraph is not I am special – in fact, 50% of all people find my unique presentation style incredibly annoying and off-putting.  It is simply that if I say something is, “Wow”, then it is BIG.  And I want to share with you the single best trick I have learned when it comes to doing a big presentation of your company/product for a large audience.

Who did I learn this from?  Josh Kopelman – marketing uber-demi-god.

This is another example of the tremendous value that a great, active, early stage investor can add.

Anyway, here is the story:

At the inauguaral TechCrunch 50 conference in San Francisco, there were a number of FRC investments launching.  Every company had 5 minutes to get up and do their thing and it had to include a product demo.  The FRC companies were easy to spot.  They had way more polished pitches than everyone else.  And here was the key thing that they did that really stood out:  Their demo’s were videotaped.  The walk-through was incredibly smooth because they were not relying on slow conference internet, there were no typos, there was no confusion over what they were doing, and the speaker and the guy working the keyboard didn’t have to stay in sync.  While a videotaped demo might not seem credible for a demo for 5 people, for a demo for 500 people, it simply minimized the odds that the demo goes off the tracks and because it was just an unedited screencast of the perfect walk-through, you didn’t feel like there was a lot of smoke and mirrors.  It still looked like a real demo.

The result was that no FRC company had problems with time or with their demo gone awry – a statement that could be said about precious few at that conference.  They were on message and consistent with their points.  Every FRC company presentation was outstanding.

Do you think I love First Round too much?  OK, here is some criticism: I have heard that the other members of FRC are not as good as Josh.  And I have heard that Josh is super busy, so you don’t get that much of his time.  And I believe that, although I am good friends with Chris Fralic and have had pleasant exchanges with other FRC people.  If you go read, you will see a lot of comments about how Josh and Howard are godlike and the rest of the partners are OK.  There you go.  Also, what is with the image map links on Josh’s page to blogs and twitter?  That is not how it is done!  Weak developer work!

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