When you want to create awareness of a technology project, one of the most effective ways is to run a demonstration booth. Early in the project, an email or two may have been sent to let the organisation know what is coming. The project might have been mentioned in a team meeting or all company meeting. Aside from signing up for a convenient time slot on a training schedule, there is a low level of awareness of the project and what it will deliver. But when you set up an accessible demonstration of the technology, the project’s benefits extend beyond visibility.You don't want a training workshop to be the first time that the organisation sees the technology in your project. A training booth can prevent this. Click To Tweet
A demonstration booth is much like a kiosk, where people can come and experience the technology and ask questions. It is staffed by a person who can confidently answer those questions and demonstrate the technology on display. It can be as simple as a table, chairs, and something visual to identify the booth. The demonstration could be a graphical chart or a collection of pictures that explain the technology. Ideally, a working system will be available to demonstrate the technology and to allow visitors to experience it.
Through experiencing the technology, visitors will start to build a picture of how they will use it. Making the technology tangible will generate more questions and conversation, at the booth and afterwards with other work colleagues. Visitors should leave the booth feeling that their feedback and questions have been heard. By the time they attend a training workshop, booth visitors will have formed a few ideas and opinions.
Make the most of the demonstration booth by using some of these tips.
1. Make the demo booth accessible. Hold the expo in a public common area such as near the cafeteria or in the lobby area. Run the demo booth for at least a few days as some people will not be present at work if it were run on a single day. Lunch-time is the best time to drive interaction and increase visits.
2. Write a demonstration script for visitors to follow. Keep it basic, so it’s easy to follow for people who have no knowledge of the technology. Use a couple of simple relevant scenarios to demonstrate the technology. Scenarios make it relatable to existing roles and activities and participants can visualise themselves using it in future.
3. Use more than one device in the experimental? demo. Where possible, use scenarios that require two people. If there is only one person visiting the booth, the booth staff can work collaboratively through the demo.
4. Invite senior leadership and the executive sponsor to visit the booth. Schedule time on their calendars to visit. Leadership will appreciate the opportunity to see the technology in action, and people from the organisation engaging with the project. A visit from leadership also signifies endorsement of the project. There shouldn’t be any expectation on the visiting leadership to answer questions. Though if the Executive sponsor visits, they will have a better understanding of the strategic goals and purpose of the project. They should also be able to speak about the progress of the project at a high level.
5. Take pictures of people visiting the booth and write a short blog post about how the booth performed, and the comments and stories people brought to the booth. The story and pictures are an excellent way to follow up the demo booth, summarising the outcomes and generating more discussion.
6. Gather feedback on a technology choice for the project, eg a choice of headset or naming the service. Summarise the feedback and if viable, finalise one of the choices to show that feedback has been taken onboard and enacted upon.
7. Have somewhere that people can continue to discuss and give feedback. Create an online community with a service such as Yammer or a discussion forum on your intranet. When you provide a public place to discuss feedback and ideas, participants can provide viewpoints that haven’t been considered by the project team.
The effects of follow-up
A good demo booth makes a technology project highly visible and is a valuable tool in creating a culture around the change. Demos make the technology tangible and create the vision. Leadership is made aware of the change and have an opportunity to both endorse the change and participate interactively in the change with the organisation. The booth has given people an opportunity to be heard and you begin to create a community around the technology that can be leveraged to support it into the future.