5 Lessons Learned from Building a Dreamforce Demo


This year I was lucky enough to be part of the Dreamforce ’18 Admin Keynote Team, and I was assigned the job of building the demos for the keynote. This was a huge project, and I learned some lessons along the way that I wanted to share with all of you. You can apply these to any situation where you’ll be giving a major demo or presentation to a big group, and you want to be at the top of your game.

1. Organization is key.

From the start, we created a Quip doc containing all the login info for each org, and the to-do items for each one of those demo orgs. We ended up creating multiple Salesforce instances, both primary and backup for each of the demos. We then needed to track all the build steps for each of the demos, especially since we had to coordinate between multiple people building different pieces of each demo. We created a detailed “to-do” document, which became our single source of truth – if it wasn’t in the To-Do list, it wasn’t getting done. We also did daily standups to make sure everyone who was working on building the demos knew what they needed to do, and if they were blocked on something, how they could get unblocked or who to escalate to. Bonus: the daily meetings also forced us to keep our document up to date!

Advice for Admins: Have a single, easily accessible place where you’re tracking your to-do items for your demo. Make sure everyone knows what the status of things is, and it’s kept updated. Have regular meetings to check-in, and if someone is blocked, understand what the issue is, and work to help them get unblocked.

2. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse again.

The best way to get good at doing your demo is to do your demo. And then do it again. And again. It’s also key to know your audience – a demo for your peers is going to look quite a bit different than a demo to your executive leadership, and the level of preparation will reflect that.  

I found that for the executive demos, making sure the “polish” was there was really important. I made sure any custom logos, screen layouts, and sample data looked as close to the finished product as possible. Be sure to do your demo in front of people who haven’t seen it before, so you can get honest and direct feedback. They’ll help you see what makes sense, what is unclear, and to make sure the pace feels right. When you’re steeped in demo preparation and the associated story, it’s hard to look at it with fresh eyes, but this can help with that. And bonus: by doing it over and over, you start to get that muscle memory baked in.

Advice for Admins: Do your demo multiple times to multiple different audiences. A peer demo will look different than an executive demo. Rehearsal is the way to get better, and presenting to people who’ve never seen it helps you see it with fresh eyes too!

3. Roll with the changes!

Over the course of building the demos, there were a lot of changes that we needed to make. Sometimes the demo story changed as a result of feedback from our customers. Sometimes the demo change was to tighten up and improve the overall flow and presentation. And sometimes the changes were for other reasons that are just part of the keynote preparation process. Regardless, the only constant through this entire process was change. It can be challenging to make changes to something that you feel ownership over, but I promise you that over time, these changes can significantly improve the end result, and that was certainly the case for me.

Advice for Admins: You can “roll with the changes!” – it will ultimately help your demo get better!

4. Don’t trust your brain—checklists and recording FTW!

When you’re at these types of events whether it’s a Dreamforce keynote, an all-hands meeting, or other high-stakes presentation, our brains flip to “lizard-mode” and we regress to the fight-or-flight state. What that means, practically speaking, is that your higher brain function gets “hijacked” by survival mode and that relying on your memory is a really bad idea. To compensate for that, write yourself a simple checklist which has each demo step listed for you to follow. This allows you to just click through methodically following the steps, and worst case, should something happen to you someone else can use this checklist too.  

Also, if you are unsure of the quality of the internet connection where you’ll be presenting, record your demo in advance, using a tool like Camtasia. This has multiple advantages, the main one being that at the event, you’ll just play the video. If you’re also narrating your demo, then this will free you up to talk through the demo as it’s playing. Make sure the timing is right – it’s important not to race through just to keep up with the recording. If needed, pause or slow down at specific spots to highlight key points.

Advice for Admins: Create a step-by-step checklist, even if you think you have it memorized. And make a recording if you’re not sure of the internet connection.

5. The most important lesson: YOU ARE PART OF A TEAM!

We say this in our Essential Habits webinar, and I’ll repeat it here: “No Admin is an Island” (apologies to John Donne)!  I am very lucky to work with an incredible team of Admin and Developer Evangelists like Mike Gerholdt, Gillian Bruce, Mary Scotton, Kevin Poorman, Christophe Coenrats, Zayne Turner, and René Winkelmeyer, and they ALL helped make the keynote demos better, in ways both large and small. But, even if you are a solo admin at your company, you can always get help and advice from the Trailblazer Community, either online or in-person at a Community Group.

Advice for Admins: You’re never alone! Ask people to help you, whether online or IRL, they want you to be successful!


Those are some of the lessons I learned driving the demos for the Dreamforce ‘18 #AwesomeAdmin Keynote. #AwesomeAdmins, any lessons you learned doing a live demo? Let us know! Post in the Admin Trailblazers group, tweet at us @SalesforceAdmns, and good luck on your next big demo!


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