I spent some time speaking with Greg Galant of Venture Voice earlier this week. Venture Voice is an excellent podcast on entrepreneurship and venture capital. Greg is apparently working on a podcast (or perhaps a series of podcasts) about a particular company that is launching at the upcoming DEMOfall conference in Huntington Beach. Greg wouldn't tell me the name of the company he's been following, so I guess I'll just have to wait until Greg's podcast on the first day of DEMO.
Among the things Greg asked me was my advice for companies presenting at DEMO. I've blogged the "Dos and Don'ts of Presenting at DEMO" before, but the thing I reitterated to Greg was the need to make your presentation about your product, not about you or the presentation itself. If the star of the show isn't your product, you've failed.
I was reminded of that advice a couple days later as I watched the webcast of Steve Jobs' announcement of the iPod nano. Jobs is the master of making his demos about the products themselves. Jobs has two unfair advantages in that respect. First, I believe that he is one of the most talented public speakers alive today. And second, in recent years he has had some of the most spectacular products to demo (the nano is no exception -- I got one the other day; it is mindbogglingly cool). That said, Jobs always manages to show off his latest products in compelling, often riveting, ways.
While I thought that the unveiling of the iPod nano was actually one of Jobs least inspiring performances in some time, the webcast is still quite instructive on how to demo and how not to. Jobs did a nice job of pushing his products by describing their compelling features. He even managed to create some excitement around the iPod phone that, by all accounts, is a pretty uninspired device. But if there was any question about Jobs' standout presentation skills, one need only continue watching the webcast as Jobs hands over the stage to Ron Garriques, Motorola's President of Mobile Services, and Ralph de la Vega, Cingular's COO. Both Garriques and de la Vega can't help themselves -- instead of showing how great the iTunes phone is, they insist on saying how great it is. (Garriques: "It is unbelievable [sic] rewarding for me and the team to have Steve Jobs glowing about a product from Motorola that's wickedly compelling." de la Vega: "We have a world class phone from Motorola, running on a world class network from Cingular, with a world class application from Apple and iTunes.") And saying something is great is no substitute for demonstrating that it is so.
For any companies presenting at the upcoming DEMO conference (or any other forum for that matter), I would strongly recommend watching the Apple webcast. The contrast between Jobs and the other two execs is stark. If you can intuit the difference between them, you'll be well on your way to a more compelling presentation. In the meantime, I'm already looking forward to Jobs' next product announcement.