Four Tips for Winning a DemoFest Award + 2016 Learning Solutions Recap

March is always and exciting and busy month for us here at Artisan E-Learning and E-Learning Uncovered. It usually starts with some new projects and initiatives, and it ends with a bang at the eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Conference & Expo.

This year, like every other year, did not disappoint. Diane Elkins and I kicked off the week with a one-day E-Learning 101 pre-conference workshop, which is based off Diane’s E-Learning Fundamentals book. We had a blast helping a group of newbies learn the ins and outs of e-learning. Although workshop itself is always fun, we have the most fun running into the participants during the conference and hearing how they’re applying what they learned from us.

Diane and I also facilitated two concurrent sessions. Diane presented and eye-opening session on Defining Your E-Learning Project, where she shared practical tips for defining project goals, identifying and dealing with project risks, and how to create a project schedule. I presented a session on Designing with Animation, where I showed how animations can be used to bring meaning to learning content.

Finally, Diane and I had the pleasure of participating in LS DemoFest. If you’ve never attended DemoFest, it’s like a science fair for e-learning courses. People compete by showing their course and attendees vote for their favorites. At the end, winners are announced and awards are issued. This year, we were thrilled to walk away with our sixth (my second) award—this time for Best Business Process! I demo’d a branching scenario for Dealing with Angry Customers, and Diane demo’d a course we created for Crystal Cruises.

DemoFest Award

This brings me to some tips I wanted to share on winning a DemoFest award. Over the past several years, I’ve participated in six DemoFest events. Each time I walk away with a few lessons learned about what works and what doesn’t work. Regardless of whether you win or not, DemoFest is always a blast and a great way to inspire others and share ideas with the industry. However, if you’re competitive like me, you’re in it to win it!

Here are four tips I’ve learned about winning a DemoFest Award:

1. Pick a course you’re proud of.

Winning a DemoFest award starts with demoing a show-worthy course. Because DemoFest awards are given based on votes by those in attendance, the courses that win are the ones that are most intriguing. These are courses that show some level of novelty and innovation. This doesn’t mean your course needs to be the most complex or intricate. Maybe it’s just a creative use of graphics or an interesting way to present learning content.

If you don’t believe your course is the most interesting, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t submit it for DemoFest. Even courses with dry content can be DemoFest-worthy. For example, we won a DemoFest award a few years ago for a two-hour course on how to fill out a form! Perhaps your course solved some sort of business or learning problem in an interesting way. If that is the case, it’s something that makes it innovative, interesting, and DemoFest-worthy.

2. Carefully select the slides you want to show.

After you’ve picked the course you want to show at DemoFest, the next thing you must do is figure out what parts of the course you want to show. Unless your course is only a few slides in length, you won’t be able to show the entire course. You have to pick the slides that are going to the most inspiring to others and provide the best wow-factor.

The slides that show best at DemoFest are those that can stand on their own and require little explanation. If possible, find a slide or series of slides that the DemoFest attendees can interact with themselves. With both of my award-winning courses, I let the attendees explore my examples on their own on an iPad, while I provided the explanation on the sidelines.

I would also suggest staying away from slides that are dependent on audio narration. If you’ve never attend DemoFest, you should know that it is loud—very, very loud! You can show slides with audio, but don’t plan on people hearing it through your computer speakers.

3. Know exactly what you’re going to say.

Now that you’ve chosen the course you want to show and the specific slides you want to highlight, it’s time to figure out what you’re going to say. What you say to each person who views your course is perhaps the most important factor to whether or not you’ll receive that person’s vote. Besides showing your amazing course, this is your chance to tell each person why it’s amazing.

There are two important things you should be prepared to tell each person who comes to your table:

  1. Why you built the course and the problem you wanted to solve.
  2. How your course solved that problem.

You should also be prepared for attendees to ask you want tools you used to create the course, how long it took you to develop it, how the training was received by your learners, and whether or not your course solved the problem you sought to address. It always helps to have a great looking course, but what really speaks to people is a course that is designed well for the business need at hand.

That doesn’t seem so hard, right? Well, the real challenge is to deliver all of that information in less than a minute and a half. If you want to win a DemoFest award, you need votes. This means you have to show your course to as many attendees as possible. Keep each demo short and sweet.

4. Ask for the vote.

After you’ve shown off your course and delivered the perfect demonstration, the last thing you must do is ask for the vote. It’s easy to assume that everyone in attendance knows what DemoFest is and how to vote, but that’s simply not the case. From my experience, at least 30% of the people who came to my table didn’t even know they were supposed to vote or even how to vote! Taking the few extra seconds to kindly ask for a vote can lead to a lot of extra votes.

If you get the opportunity to attend any of the eLearning Guild Conferences, I highly encourage you to submit your course for DemoFest. It’s a great opportunity to see what other innovative e-learning solutions people are creating, and of course, possibly walk away with an award of your own!

Do you have a DemoFest tip for share? Comment below and let us know how you prepare for DemoFest. If you’d like to see the winning courses from this year’s Learning Solutions DemoFest, register for the Best of LS DemoFest 2016 webinar on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at 10 AM PT. You can also view the archive of past winners here.

Tim Slade

2 Responses to “Four Tips for Winning a DemoFest Award + 2016 Learning Solutions Recap

  • Thanks for these great tips. They worked! I am honored to be the Best of Show Non-Vendor winner of the FocusOn Learning DemoFest (Austin, TX 2016). I’m fairly new to the industry and was excited and nervous to participate in the DemoFest portion of FocusOn Learning. These tips helped me plan for the DemoFest and kept me focused.

    1. Pick a course you are proud of.
    I would say picking a course you are proud of is key! It enabled me to speak with passion about the project.

    2. Carefully select the slide you want to show.
    This tip was the toughest for me to figure out. My project on Organizational Values is roughly 30 minutes in length and I wanted to show it all! Ultimately, though, I was able to advance through the course and slides to demonstrate the learning goal, the interactions, and the slides that provided the best wow-factor all within two to three minutes.

    3. Know exactly what you are going to say.
    In preparation for this tip, I actually wrote down the answers to why the course was built, what problem it solved, and all the technologies used to build it. I even practiced what I wanted to say for the slides I would be showing.

    4. Ask for the vote.
    Kindly asking for the vote became my closing line after every demonstration.

    I also utilized the FocusOn Learning app to be socially active and ask people to come and visit my table. If someone like my demo, I would asked them to post about it on the app.

    Thanks again for all these great tips!

  • Congrats on your big win, Marlena! I’m happy to hear that my tips worked for you!

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