Got an important demo? Use this checklist!

A couple of days ago, I had a critical meeting related to a big opportunity I’ve been pursuing. My team and I were planning to demo the full capability of our system to key sales ops stakeholders from various business units of the client. Needless to say, we were eager to impress. A day before the big meeting, I was feeling quite good – my sales presentation was ready, we had customized the demo to the client’s requirement, had done a complete walkthrough of our show and tell, and even done a couple of dry runs. Tomorrow would be great! Or not.


Things started to unravel the next morning. To start with, I overslept and was running behind even before I got into my office. I had just about an hour before we had to leave. As soon as I got in, I found that I needed to download a newer version of the app for the customizations to take effect, but the passwords were not working. We wanted to take multiple mobile devices with our app installed so everyone could play with the product. But, some of them were taking a long time to complete system updates. To top my device problems, I realized the battery on my wi-fi device was down to a single bar. We had to be on our way, so I thought I’d work a little in the Uber. But, that’s when I found that my laptop was down to 0% battery, with no way to charge it on the way. Then my colleague realized that of the two mobile phones we would be using to demo on screen, one had a completely different cable, which he, of course, forgot to bring. We were looking at a doomed demo.


Luckily for us, the start of the meeting got delayed by 23 minutes – just enough time for us to sort out our issues! Against all odds, our demo went well. We averted disaster.


As I reflected on this episode, I realized that it is not that we did not prepare for the meeting. We did – from a content standpoint. But it was the little things that we overlooked the previous day that could have done real damage. We knew these things needed to be done, of course, but were busy, and overlooked them.


So what’s the answer? I’ve made a simple checklist that we’ve now started running through prior to every single demo. Here it is – feel free to customize it for your own context and use, as needed:


The 19th Mile Demo Checklist

  1. Is the presentation customized?
  2. Are the customizations to the application done for the demo?
  3. Have we defined our roles in the demo?
  4. Are the username & passwords working?
  5. Do we need multiple devices? If yes,
    • How many?
    • Did we test out the latest version of the app on each device?
    • Are all devices charged?
  6. Is Vysor (mobile screen mirroring) loaded and working on every device?
  7. Will we be projecting on a screen? If yes,
    1. Take Thunderbolt to VGA cable
    2. Take Thunderbolt to HDMI cable
    3. Test projection of Mac screen to TV / Screen
  8. Will there be people logging in remotely and needing screen sharing? If yes,
    • Which tool will they use – Skype? Zoom? WebEx?
    • Have we downloaded the plugins?
    • Are we setting up the meeting? Is it set up?
  9. Is this an in-person meeting? If so,
    • Do we know how much time it will take to reach, at the time of the day?
    • How are we getting there?
  10. Mobile Wi-Fi device
    • Is it working?
    • Is it charged?
    • Is the backup Wi-Fi device working & charged?
    • Have all mobile phones connected at least once with the Wi-Fi device?
    • Keep the device name and passwords handy
  11. Laptops:
    • Is the laptop charged?
    • Do we have the presentation & demo loaded on another laptop?
  12. Do all of us have enough business cards?
  13. Are we going to leave something behind in hard copy? If so,
    • Is it printed and ready with enough copies?


This checklist is very tech product focused. The concept, however, is applicable to any industry. Once you start using the checklist regularly, you will realize the real value of it. And it is this – a checklist helps you achieve positive outcomes predictably even if your skill level is at the same place.

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