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Demos: Connected’s Knowledge-Sharing Ritual That Upscales Our Product Thinking

Samantha Pramanick

Samantha Pramanick

Product Manager

Connected employees on zoom call

Connected, from its very first day through to today, has always been about so much more than the products we build. As a diverse and eclectic group of smart, kind, reliable teachers and learners, Connected is a place made out of thousands upon thousands of stories. And a story’s power grows when it is shared.

Which is why our Thursday tradition of Demos is so important. At Demos, we showcase these stories by sharing our successes, challenges and progress every week. Although most of the presentations centre on our client work, which ensures the continued uptick in our institutional product IQ, we also encourage our internal teams (operations, marketing, sales, and our internal research group) to keep everyone up to date on all of our initiatives. 

To make Demos as impactful as possible, we have created nine guiding principles that every Connector can use to frame their thinking. These guiding principles are as applicable to a presentation veteran as they are to a newbie:

1. Sharing is caring

Remember that other people can learn from your daily experiences, we grow quickest when we grow together, so share out of kindness and with the desire to fuel people’s curiosity. Every project, client or internal, should aim to demo at least once a month.

2. Stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready

For those on client projects, keep track of when you’re scheduled to Demo—the schedule will be announced during the company-wide standup each week. Planning ahead means that Demo-ing will become a natural part of your project plan and you’ll be ready to share without adding extra work. For internal initiatives, empty spaces will be available each week that you’ll be able to sign up to during the three days before that week’s Demos.

Connected employees on zoom call

3. Prioritize quality over quantity

There’s no such thing as a demo that’s too short, and there is no minimum required duration for your demo. Quality should be viewed as the only metric that matters, and quality should be defined by how much your audience learns. Caveat: A max duration will be suggested at 3pm on the day of Demos.

4. Know your North Star

Client engagement demos should begin with a walkthrough of the engagement North Star. This sets up the audience to understand why decisions were made and can open you up for feedback from other practitioners that may ultimately drive even better product development. 

5. Make it your own

Don’t be afraid to get weird, wacky, maverick, creative, or to keep it simple—demos of all different formats are encouraged. If you need some inspiration, a Demo template can be found on #demos.

6. Focus on the journey, not the destination

You don’t need a refined, nicely packaged, user friendly product in order to demo. Solution architecture, backend work, or recent challenges that have been driving you crazy are all valid demo topics too. Other Connectors will learn from your strains as much as your successes, keep that in mind.

Connected employees on zoom call

7. Involve your audience

Presenters, come prepared with some leading questions or specific areas you’d like audience feedback on. Pop quizzes are allowed (and encouraged). Use the resource of a captive audience of product experts to elevate your work!

8. Relax, take it eeeeeeeasy

Take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy this! Demos are meant to be casual and fun.

9. Finally, for the audience: Ask and you shall receive

Audience, remember to ask questions and give feedback in whichever way feels comfortable to you; use the Zoom chat if you don’t feel like talking, or hit “Raise Hand” and ask away when your turn comes. Let’s help our presenters feel like they’re not speaking into the void (there’s no worse sound for a presenter than silence).

Our demos are a rare chance to talk candidly to a room of over 100 people who have signed up for the same to do the same thing: build better products. It’s a ritual that gives every Connector the chance to step away from their desk and shine in front of a kind audience of their peers. It’s a ritual that makes us smarter as individuals and as a group. And it’s a ritual that allows us to tell our shared story, a story made of many voices.

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