Make it real as fast as possible

Ideas are not best expressed in words. Ideas are not best discussed.

The best way to express your idea is to make it real as fast as possible: sketches, pictures, hacked together code, whatever it takes. The point is to bring your idea to life.

When you do this, two things happen:

  1. You will be forced to reckon with the nuances and challenges your idea poses.
  2. It gives others something to react to, not discuss, not pontificate about, not wax on about. It gives them something concrete to agree with.

This is 1000% true for new product ideas. Making “it real” is making it look, feel, and act like real software.

Getting to Real:

Nothing is more powerful than a prototype. If you are not familiar with Keynotopia, I highly recommend it. It is a set of UI image templates that work with Keynote or Powerpoint.

I bought it and use it for Keynote. I could not be happier with it.

If you do not want to folk over the money, Keynote and Power Point on their own work well. I have built complete prototypes with screenshots layered with cropped images.

Important Note: Making it “real” means that your prototype needs to look real. Even if you are using PowerPoint or Keynote, making each screen look realistic will fool your audience. They will think that it is real software.

Another Note: With a little practice, you can build a realistic prototype in 2-3 hours.

Rehearsing for Real:

If you are making a prototype, you will need to demo it. Like any good demo, you need to rehearse.

Know exactly where you are going to click. Know exactly which screen next. Have talking points.

And above all, be able to answer the “so what” question.

The “so what,” question is a trick used to hone a demo talk track. Imagine after everything you say, the audience asked you, “so what?” Practice answering it. If your answer is not compelling, try again. The point is to focus your talk track and demo on where your audience will care most.

In the end, do not skimp on rehearsing your demo. A boring demo will make your audience think your product is boring too.

Tip: If the stakes are high, and you only have one shot to make the right impression, record yourself practicing your demo. Then force yourself to watch the recordings. It is so painful to do. No one likes the way they sound or present, but it is the single fastest way I have learned to improve your presenting and demo skills.

Handling Real Feedback:

If you think you have a winning product idea, you owe it to yourself to present it the best you can. Hopefully, others will agree too.

But they might not, and if they don’t, do not take it personally. Good product ideas die for all different reasons: money, resources, or just plain wrong-time-wrong-place.

The best thing you can do is brush it off, and keep on keeping on.