How to present your software product at conferences

Dear software vendors,

When you send a crew to present your product at a technical conference, do let your technical experts answer questions from the audience alone. They tend to easily get involved into a geeky discussions with their peers from the audience, which may hurt your product sales. Tech. experts need marketing support badly.

I’ve been watching a technical presentation of one of the AJAX frameworks. The presenter knew his stuff and did a good job explaining the features of their software. Then, during Q/A session, people started asking questions. The first question was how this particular framework adresses the AJAX security issues. The technical presenter honestly answered that it did not. I assume, that the other presenter (more of a marketing kind of guy) did not like such an answer. So when the next person have asked a question of how their AJAX tool would handle existing and future compatinility issues of the Web browser, the marketing guy realized, that the presentation may go in the wrong direction, and he took the mike. This time, instead of getting a straight technical answer, we’ve received a 5-min spiel about how the community will communicate and put a pressure on Web browser vendors, so these guys will address the compatibility issues in a timely manner, and besides, that these vendors are on the appropriate committes already…

I do not think that such a fuzzy answer has satisfied anyone in the audience, but I’m sure the marketing guy believed that he did a good job of dodging away from a slippery question. Did he really? I’d be much more satisfied hearing the actual issues and ways to deal with them from a technical people…So if you really need to find some answers, talk to the technical presenter after the presentation – these guys are usually very good, open and will gladly to share with you everything relevant to the subject.

Political correct answers during technical events suck. I wonder if a high school math teacher does not like the answer

to a problem, would s/he give a politically correct answer instead?

Yes, straight answers can damage the image of you product. During one of the panels at JavaOne 2006, a creator of one AJAX framework said that some features are not not finished yet, but it’s just a matter of his time availability?!? Do you want to use a software that depends on one person’s time availability? I would not take such mom-an-pop products seriously.

Here’s my message: if you are presenting your software, be honest but try not to damage your own product’s reputation. Is this an oxymoron?


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