How to Win a Demo Slam

(Note: Previously posted on the EdTechTeam blog)

My heart is racing, my breaths are quick, my palms are sweaty, and I feel like I’m about to faint. “You can do it, Syl” I say to myself over and over again, as I await my turn. “And now….. Sylvia Duckworth!” the announcer says, and I force myself up to the podium, placing one shaky foot ahead of the other. I am filled with dread but walk purposefully to the front of the stage, and start my Demo Slam.

The Demo Slam is one of the highlights of an EdTechTeam GAFESummit that takes place at the end of a full day conference. This is a quick-paced, high-energy session where presenters have three minutes each to demonstrate something Googly in front of the crowd, who will vote for a winner at the end.

After watching and participating in many Demo Slams over the past three years, I have become a keen and curious observer of the sport, mentally taking notes about what works and what doesn’t work. What became clear to me from the beginning is that winning the competition has very little to do with technical expertise and everything to do with delivery and maximizing entertainment value.

Here are my top 10 tips for a winning Demo Slam.

  1. Choose something fairly easy to demonstrate. Nerves can trip you up if there are too many steps.
  2. Everyone loves a good story. Try to tell one during your Slam. String a few ideas together in a cohesive way.
  3. Be original. If you use a Demo Slam that people may have seen before, put a unique twist to it.
  4. Perform your Slam beforehand in front of your friends and ask for honest feedback and suggestions.
  5. Time your Slam while performing it out loud and make sure that it does not go over 3 minutes.
  6. Practice is key. Practice your Slam over and over again until you can do it without thinking.
  7. Trash talk the competition: they love it and the audience loves it, too.
  8. Play up the home court advantage if you have one. Remind the audience that you are from their home town and that they should vote for you.
  9. Play up the foreigner advantage if you have one. Throw in flattering comments about their city. Bonus: attempt to speak in their language if different from yours.
  10. It’s all about attitude. Try to exude confidence even if you are not feeling it.

After my turn at the microphone, the audience is applauding, and I stumble back to my seat, the other competitors high-fiving me as I pass. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone for three excruciating minutes. After all, how can I ask my students to take risks in my class if I don’t take risks myself from time to time? It’s the only way to learn and grow, and to discover your true potential.

“The greatest failure is the failure to try” (William Ward).

NOTE: For inspiration, check out Google Demo Slam: Live on Air.

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