Sometimes The Best DEMO Has No Slides

If you have never heard of DEMO, it’s about time we change that right now. DEMO is all about new tech solving big problems. A select group of innovative companies are invited to showcase their solutions to a large audience of press, analysts, investors, CIOs and entrepreneurs.


About DEMO 
Produced by the IDG Enterprise events group, the worldwide DEMO conferences focus on emerging technologies and new product innovations, which are hand selected from across the spectrum of the technology marketplace. The DEMO conferences have earned their reputation for consistently identifying cutting-edge technologies and helping entrepreneurs secure venture funding and establish critical business. For more information on the DEMO conferences, visit

I think DEMO has some interesting characteristics:

  • Presentations are 4 minutes or less. No exceptions.
  • No slides are allowed.
  • Live software demos only.
  • Presentations are followed by an additional 4 minutes of Q&A by an esteemed panel of Judges.

What I love about DEMO is that companies are given the main keynote stage to share their exciting products. 40 companies have the limelight for 8 minutes and share some truly exciting and creative innovations.

4 Minutes or Less
Normally I have at least 30 minutes to share Incorta with most demos being 60-90 minutes in length. This was going to be a whole new challenge. The amount of effort involved in making an impression in 4 minutes is completely different than 60 minutes. I think President Wilson Woodrow summed it up best.

Wilson Woodrow Quote

If you are to speak for 4 minutes I think you need 2 months to prepare!

The Challenge
What to focus on? You cannot show everything and often you might have many facets that make your product stand out from the competition. How do you decide on which piece to focus on? This was something that was pretty difficult for us at Incorta.

The Dry Run
The day before our scheduled DEMO time slot we had a dry run with Erick Schonfeld on stage at the San Jose Convention Center. Our focus in that demo was the ease of bringing data into Incorta and how we negate all the complex star schemas, ETL and traditional data warehouse work that cripples most Business Intelligence projects. After candid feedback from Erick, we decided we should change our demo. We changed direction entirely and created a new script. We decided to focus on our mobility and flexibility for Business Users to be able to take control of their analytics. How Incorta Enable users to quickly make changes to their dashboards to  answer pressing questions that traditionally take months to solve.

Re-writing your demo at 1 AM in the morning before your DEMO presentation is not the ideal, but sometimes you have to make these kind of changes.

If we had a deck could we have made such a sweeping change? Would we have been nimble enough to change direction? I would argue we would have not felt we could throw our DEMO slides in the trash and start from scratch with less than 12 hours before we walk on stage.

In this case no slides is perfect!

When was the last time you changed direction at the last minute after investing weeks into your original idea? How did that turn out?

Published by Matthew Halliday

Co-founder, EVP of Product Strategy at Incorta. Passion for design, UX, data, stories, and making beautiful things.

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