Preparing for the demo

As long as software demonstrations go according to your plan, they are  exciting. However, more often than not, software demonstrations end up as living examples of Murphy’s Law. Murphy’s Law states that “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance”.  If you don’t believe me, checkout this amazing video on Microsoft Speech Recognition demonstration going wrong. 

Murphy’s Law on work

Tomorrow, for the first time, I will be demonstrating Memento. My audience will be mainly graduate student of Geography. Although, I know most of my audience personally which makes things easier for me, I am least interested in making my demo just another living proof of Murphy’s law at work. Based on my past experience, I have created some guidelines for myself that I am planning to follow for this demo and also for all my future software demonstrations. They are:

1. Resist the urge to add, remove, or modify your application.It is often likely that just two or three days before the demo, you will come up excellent ideas that make your software exceptional and more desirable to your audience. However, resist the urge to implement these new ideas. The problem with last minutes additions or modifications is that you don’t get enough time to test your existing that intentionally or unintentionally got affected.  Any such last minute changes only  increase the chances of things going wrong.

2. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Minimize assumptions and keep up a backup plan. You can’t get rid of all the assumptions but definitely you can reduce them. The most common assumptions that people confidently make and go wrong are:  

  • Internet connection will be available,
  • the server will running properly and I will be able to connect to online database,
  • the laptop and projector will connect seamlessly
  • …..

If you are lucky, your demonstration goes according to your plan. But as Murphy’s law says that if you give a chance, things will go wrong. Hence, assume worst case scenario and prepare for it. Have backup plan such as keeping some screenshots, installing your server on a local machine or even on an external drive. You can use XAMPP to install apache server on an external drive.

3. Use the opportunity to get feedback: It is a common knowledge that getting people to fill out survey forms is the most challenging thing on earth for the marketing division. However, people coming to demo have already taken out some time and, often, won’t mind filling out a survey form; the only condition being that your provide them with one. Don’t rely on using online websites such as surveymonkey, etc. These websites are great only as an alternative. However, If you completely rely on these websites, then you are losing an important opportunity for doing requirement analysis and for also getting interesting feedback.  Most people will forget the online website and even if they remember, they will now have to gather enough motivation to go to that website and fill out a survey form.


Ahh..just noticed that Krista (our Staff member for GeoVista Center) put up a news notice about my software demonstration on GeoVista Webpage

About Ritesh Agrawal

I am a applied researcher who enjoys anything related to statistics, large data analysis, data mining, machine learning and data visualization.
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