What takes a demo from NOT to HOT

I have watched literally thousands of demo videos during my Ovations days.

Yes.  I am a total bureau nerd who enjoys viewing endless demos,  presentations, meeting and watching speakers.   How do I separate the HOT from the NOT and how can this help you?

Apart from being one of my all time favourite speakers Peter Sheahan has one of my favourite demo videos.  It is circa 2009 but has many of the elements I look for.   Spend 2 minutes and take a look – do you agree it is still HOT?

Firstly note how it has been renamed 'sizzle reel'. Catchier, more innovative and edgier than a standard speaking demo. What did you notice about this video and what should you be looking for in the demos we send you? Here are 12 things I see immediately that I want to share with you.

  1. Media Footage
  2. Live speaking footage
  3. Introductions by credible sources
  4. Interviews
  5. Books
  6. Humour
  7. Credible content
  8. Energy/style
  9. Global position/credibility
  10. Specialty areas/topics
  11. Edit/Music
  12. Less than 3 minutes


The opening clip of Pete on a television show immediately establishes his credibility. Switch to live speaking footage and you get a sense of his presentation style straight away. The introduction by media names such as Jeff McMullen in Australia and the US TV presenters not only positions Pete as a credible expert once again it gives him global and local kudos. By cutting to his book titles it tells us Pete is an author and has depth of content. By showing Pete being interviewed and on panels it tells the viewer people seek him out and respect his opinion. The professional edit and music placement are well suited to Pete’s persona, energy and speaking style. All of this professionally packaged in well under 3 minutes. We are all busy people and don’t want or need lengthy demos. Testimonials can be very effective and useful in a demo and I did note the absence of these or a list of client names whom Pete has worked with. But in all honesty I think Pete’s video positions in such a light that I wouldn’t question his ability and capability.

So those are a few things I think you should be looking for in a HOT demo. On the flip side I think an unprofessional demo video can do a speaker more harm than good. I won’t spend much time here but these are a few items that I think takes a HOT demo to NOT: Shaky video and sound, unclear positioning, amateur producing, no credible testimonials, longer than 3 minutes and out of date footage. All big no-nos in my book. More than ever we need relevant and current demo videos, especially for a professional speaker who presents full time for a living. A demo is a visual business card and it needs to paint a clear, true and engaging picture.

But even the HOTTEST demo video doesn’t tell you the whole story. It is just one piece of the puzzle and one of the reasons why event planners benefit from finding a bureau consultant they enjoy working with and trust. Watching speakers live, testimonials, talking to past clients, reading feedback and delegate ratings from past events and our past personal booking experience are all avenues of research we perform for clients. If you have ever decided to take this on yourself you know these functions take a great deal of time to execute properly. I know the majority of clients I partner with don’t have the time to do it all themselves. Another thing a demo video won’t tell you is if your selected speaker is just as good to work with off the stage...as on! And let’s be honest a bad off stage experience with a speaker, presenter or celebrity can tarnish any good onstage appearance.

A demo video should help give you vision and help you move confidently towards a decision. Once you have selected your speaker you can leave your consultant to put the rest of the pieces of the puzzle together; the negotiations, paperwork, briefing and event logistics. And don’t forget to talk with your consultant about other ways your booked speaker can add more value. We have a ton of ideas in that department, but I may need to leave that for a future article!

Written by Chief of Ovations Sharmila Nahna

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