Kirk Evans Blog

.NET From a Markup Perspective

Being an Evangelist

Guy Kawasaki posts on The Art of Evangelism.  One of the points hits close to home:

Learn to give a demo. An “evangelist who cannot give a great demo” is an oxymoron. A person simply cannot be an evangelist if she cannot demo the product. If a person cannot give a demo that quickens the pulse of everyone in the audience, he should stay in sales or in marketing.

Ouch.  Cards on the table, we can’t always give a pulse-quickening demo.  Looking back on my calendar in the past 2 weeks, here are the demos that I have given:

  • Windows Workflow
  • Windows Communication Foundation
  • Sharepoint for Developers
  • Enterprise Services for Java Developers
  • Intro to .NET for Java Architects
  • BizTalk 2004 and Web Services
  • Smart Clients and ClickOnce
  • The Guts of ASP.NET
  • Lap Around Visual Studio 2005
  • What’s New in .NET 2.0
  • Lap Around Team System

A cop-out would be to claim these technologies as too diverse to delve into deeply enough to give demos.  Another cop-out might be to point out that some of these technologies are beta.  The reality is that these technologies are pretty stable and have been out for at least the better part of a year.  The fact is that I realize on a daily basis how difficult it really is to write software on current technologies, let alone keep a keen eye on stuff that is 6-8 months down the road.

The problem remains having enough individual time to learn the technologies enough to give credible demos and not just running through someone else’s demo script.  I despise going through someone else’s written instructions for giving a demo and then regurgitating the script, I much prefer to write my own demos and completely make the demo a personal effrot.  However, I am writing this on a Sunday night, while I am simultaneously setting up customer appointments for the week, writing some more demos on Enterprise Services, and making sure that some other demos for WSE 3.0 work as expected.

Guy’s post hits a nerve.  I don’t mean a nerve in the sense that he is wrong… no, he is completely correct.  I should be more prepared, do more effective demos, spend more time making sure the demos work and that I know the technology enough to stand in front of the customer as an expert. 

So far, my options are to:

  • Tell my customers that I can’t do so many demos.  Yeah… this isn’t an option, just thought I would picture my boss’ reaction when I told him I couldn’t show a customer how to use our technology.
  • Figure out how to survive on less than 5 hours’ sleep per night.  Not so far-fetched, I have been doing this for about 2 years now.
  • Learn canned demos and suck it up.  Not sure this one is going to happen, either.  I just can’t show marketing slicks without calling BS in front of a customer.
  • Manage to get more than 24 hours into a single day.

I am just hoping my customers are actually intrigued at seeing how an Evangelist thinks a demo should work and decide to go try it for themselves to figure out what I did wrong.  In the meantime, I am going to see what combinations of breakfast foods taste good with Red Bull.