Demo Pitfalls #293: “Remember when I showed you…?”

When presenting a demo, if you say, “Remember when I showed you…?” It is unlikely that your prospect will remember! Why?

The National Training Center Average Learning Retention Rates study showed the following information retention rates for different modes of delivery:

  • Lecture: 5%. What do you remember from your first-year college or university lectures (or any lectures)? Not much!
  • Reading: 10%. This is why we reread books, highlight passages, and make notes.
  • Audio-Visual: 20%. Each sense that is engaged gives us another 10% additional retention. See a piece of paper? 10% retention of the experience. See and hear the paper being crumpled? 20%. See, hear, and feel the paper being crumpled? 30%. Add taste? 40%. Include a scent? 50%. This is why props and visual aids help to improve retention rates in demos and presentations.
  • Demos: 30%. This means that 70% of what you deliver in a traditional demo is forgotten! That’s 7 out of 10 pieces of information that you present.
  • Discussion: 50%. This is logical; when people discuss an idea, and especially when there is a question about the idea, it is remembered reasonably well. This is one of the main reasons to turn a demo into a conversation.
  • Practice by Doing: 75%. That’s why role-play is so important. That’s also why we emphasize and do multiple role-play sessions in Great Demo! and Doing Discovery Workshops.
  • Peer Teaching/Immediate Use: 90%. One of the best ways to really learn something is to teach it to someone else. Nothing crystallizes your understanding of an idea like having to explain it to another person.

Let’s go back to the question, “Remember when I showed you…?” There is a 70% probability that your audience won’t remember what you are referring to. This likely gets worse with demos delivered over the web, as well.

What portions of a demo or presentation are retained most strongly? What 30% will your audience remember? The primacy-recency effect (and serial positioning effect) tells us that the first few ideas will be remembered best, and the last item next best.

That’s one reason why Great Demo! methodology guides you to “Do the Last Thing First” and present the most compelling deliverable for your prospect right at the beginning of the demo, and to deliver a crisp summary of the key points at the very end.

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