Top tips for intranet demos
Whether you’re delivering a full redesign, content changes or some new functionality, every intranet manager finds they’re called on to talk people through the intranet on a regular basis. So often, in fact, that we rarely stop to think how we can do it better.
Here’s our top tips for doing killer demos that will engage and excite your stakeholders every time.
Is this demo your idea? If so, are you trying to get buy in, get sign off? Impress? Build excitement?
Or did you get asked to demo? Why did you get the request? Is there something you’re delivering that they have concerns about? Or are they just a group that need to feel informed and ‘first to know’?
Always keep your objective in mind and ensure your demo supports the brief.
Don’t just turn up unprepared. Make at least an outline plan for each and every demo, thinking about audience, objectives and resource constraints (eg time) – in fact, all the same things you would for a content project! In your plan, set out what key message you’re trying to convey, and what features or content you’ll focus on to illustrate your point.
Focus on key functionality
Don’t talk through every single feature. It’s too much to take in and your key message will get lost. Instead, focus on a handful of things that make your intranet an indispensable business tool. What can people do now they have your intranet that they couldn’t do before?
Remember, your audience might not all be willing attendees, and probably have better things to do with their time. Try and keep things short and energetic. Focus on how you are solving problems that they know and care about, or give them context that lets them understand those things.
If it’s a training demo, focus on the tasks your audience care about. Keep it to one or two processes, and use the actual live system to walk through. Show them how you’re making their working lives easier.
Know your audience
After the tenth time it’s all too tempting to regurgitate the same spiel (replete with the same jokes). But don’t! Tailor your talk to the audience, thinking about their level of technical knowledge and their ways of working. A demo for someone with a field sales team should focus on completely different things to a senior exec who only ever looks at the intranet on their iPad, and one for IT folks should have a different focus to one for a customer service team.
You might want to create takeaways or handouts, particularly if your focus is on training or adoption.
Check your logistics
There’s nothing more embarrassing than having errors appear when you’re presenting to senior stakeholders. Confirm your system outages don’t clash with your planned demo. Keep a backup presentation deck to hand in case of an unplanned outage on the live system.
If it’s your first time, or a particularly important audience, give yourself a dry run by presenting to your own team, or your long-suffering boyfriend. Ask them to be constructively critical.
Try and get some practice speaking in public – the more you do it, the easier it gets. Consider presenting at Ignite or similar. If you’re in the UK, sign up as a speaker for 300 Seconds, which helps new speakers gain confidence and experience.
It’s totally ok to work from notes – it looks far more professional to have carefully-prepared notes to work from than to forget what you were saying or leave stuff out. Just ask Ed Miliband.
Don’t try and present in-person and remotely at the same time
Speaking from experience – you end up presenting to the people in the room. Those outside of it see a webex that refreshes out of sync with what you’re saying. It ends up being an unsatisfactory experience for everyone involved. You’ll give a much better impression of your intranet by demoing to the two separately.
If your audience are people you want to see using the intranet, give them a task to work on afterwards to get them working with it hands-on. It could be something as simple as completing their profile page, or connecting with colleagues.
At launch or re-launch time, the number of requests for demos can get out of hand, and you’ll soon find you tire of delivering them over and over. Consider whether every request is a good use of your time, or whether your goal could be achieved in other ways.
For example, if you’re walking through a particular new feature, could you create a walk-through video to share with stakeholders instead?
Do you have ideas or suggestions for delivering demos? Share them in the comments below.