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Gruesome Web Overview

[Warning – graphic and potentially painful content…]

There’s a rough but strangely consistent timeline for a “1 hour overview demo” that seems to go like this [starting time for each element on the left side]:

0:00:      Fumbling with WebEx/GoToMeeting – “Did you get the link?  Can you see my screen?”
0:04:      Mutual introductions… and no request for doing discovery on the part of the demonstrator
0:08:      Corporate overview presentation (gag…)
0:18:      Product overview presentation, including

  1. Obligatory architecture slide(s), with equally obligatory rectangles and cylinders representing software and database components (how novel)
  2. Obligatory product-centric slide (showing company’s product in the center of a circle of other things (e.g., users, other applications, process steps, you name it – so novel, once again!)
  3. Case studies, if any, generally appear at the end and are typically skipped over “because we are short on time…” (too bad – real case studies would be the most interesting part of the overviews)

0:28:      “Actual” demo, including

a.  Opening statement that “we need to compress a 60 minute demo into 30 minutes by “going real fast…”
b.  Request that “this be interactive, so please so me if you have any questions…”, followed by a fire-hose-like delivery with no real time for questions whatsoever
c.  Overview of the offering(s) (again, even though it was covered in the Product Overview presentation)
d.  Overview of navigation elements…
e.  Entry into how to set-up and configure the application, which then consumes most of the remaining time (even though this task is typically done once, when first implemented, and then rarely ever after)
f.   A walk-through of the workflow (a run-through, in fact, since time is really getting short)
g.  A rapid, largely verbal description of the canned and custom reporting capabilities (often including the claim that “we have over 600 canned reports…” of which a typical user might consume 1 or 2!)
h.  Comment that “we didn’t have enough time to show you everything…”

0:60: Wrap-up with no action items

Frightening, terrible and remarkably common!

If the objective was to “show the customer a demo” then that objective was achieved – but it is very doubtful that other tangible progress was made in the sale!


Your first step is to see how close some of your team’s demos match the horror described above.  If your demos are nothing like the Stunningly Awful Web Overview, then congratulations – your team is curiously above average in performance…!

On the other hand, it the demo example above is “too close to home”, then consider the following ideas:

  1. Turn the call into a Discovery session, if possible (and appropriate).  [Read or download the article “Stunningly Awful Demos - Insufficient Discovery”, if you haven't already done so.]
  2. Use the Menu Approach, if the audience is a group and/or if your software addresses a range of problem areas.
  3. Reduce the corporate overview to one slide.
  4. Reduce the product overview presentation to just the case study slides
  5. Organize the demo portion like newspapers and the web present news articles [See the article “Why Structure a Demo Like a News Article” for more details]

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Stunningly Awful Web “Overview” Demos – 
The Gruesome Anatomy of a 1-Hour Web "Overview" Demo