When demos go bad……

All demo guys have this commonly recurring nightmare the closer you get to the gig. It’s where you’re onstage with the CEO, and the demo you’re enthusiastically presenting blue-screens and freezes up while you stutter and stammer about “what should have happened”. The next day the headline on Tom’s Hardware reads, “Intel demo goes bad at CES, stock drops $1.37” And that’s when you wake up in a cold sweat.

Here’s a quick test. Google “Gates CES blue screen”. Let me know how many hits you get. Yikes.

So that’s why the late hours of tech and re-tech. Every light, mic, and graphic will be perfect. And it has to be. So when someone asks me what’s it’s like to be a demo guy, I tell them this story.

Last year, I’m presenting a 1st look wireless demo of Intel’s .n WiFi product to Paul during his IDF rehearsal walkthrough. We’re staged and ready; Paul greets me with a warm handshake on stage. I launch into my script, a brief summary of the demo on the concept laptop I have resting on the stage pedestal. Well, this particular concept has an unusually cool convertible screen. And now Paul has his hands on it. He’s too fast, I can’t stop him. First I heard, “Hey, is this that laptop with the cool screen?”

Then I heard the horrible dry pops of the proto WiFi antennas mounted in the screen being pulled from the PC housing. There would be no wireless 1’s and 0’s passed for this rehearsal.

Now I know what you’re thinking, but keep the following in mind:

a.) Few know this, but Paul is quick like a cat.

b.) Whatever you may have heard, slapping the hand of the big boss is almost the literal definition of “Career Limiting”.

This may seem cliché, but I will never forget what he said next. I was scrambling in obvious panic; yelling for engineers, grasping for tools. He flashed me a sheepish smile, which faded in an instant to that very serious gaze.

“This will all be fixed tomorrow, right?”

“Absolutely.” I said.

And THAT is what it’s like. Craig Raymond, Corp Demos, nice to meet you. A long time demo veteran once told me, “Sometimes you’re the bird, sometime you’re the statue.” Too true, Mr. Nicodemus. Too true. That’s what keeps us flapping our wings so hard, ’cause if you stand still long enough, you just might start looking like that statue.

37 hours, 48minutes till the keynote. Excuse me while I re-check some cables………

3 Responses to When demos go bad……

  1. frank canton says:

    Well the part about the stock drop is already true. Let’s hope the rest doesn’t happen.