This is part 2 of a 3 part post. If you haven't already, check out Part 1: Demands.
As part of the DEMO process, each company gets assigned a presentation slot (ours was 10:03 am on Day 2, though we probably went out closer to 10:01 am). Each company has to submit a draft script several weeks in advance and then has a 'dress rehearsal' a day or two in advance of the show. After going through this process, I realized that these deadlines are as much about forcing the presenters to do their homework as it is about helping the show staff produce the event.
In other words, the deadlines help. Quite a bit. Because scripting out six minutes on stage turns out to be a lot of work. First it's work to write everything out long hand. Then it's work to cut your first draft back from the initial 15 minutes worth of content to something closer to the six minutes you have. Then it's work to decide which points you really need to make and which might be interesting but are really not central to your message. Then you start simplifying the text so it sounds more like something a real person might actually say, rather than someone reading a piece of collateral.
Then you pass it around for review by folks who have participated in DEMO before and -- hopefully -- know just enough about what you do to be constructive.
Then you start over. And so the cycle begins. Draft and re-draft. Re-order and re-work. Then revert back to an earlier version. Add some new stuff in. Take it all out. Get lost in version control. And so on. 31 times. Honestly. That's how many different file versions we created of our script. Some of course are just incremental changes, but we have two or three full drafted scripts that barely share a word with the final result.
In the end, we honed the script down as far as we could. At a high-level, we boiled everything down to four big points, bookended by a short and to-the-point introduction and conclusion. We eliminated words wherever possible. We even swapped out words to save syllables.
And this was the most valuable part of the entire DEMO process. Boiling your pitch down to the best six minutes (or less) that you have. The dozens of iterations on the script are not about word-smithing, but about refining your communications down to their most salient, most critical points.
And while you don't need DEMO to do this, you do need a deadline to make it happen. DEMO really does provide some great deadline pressure.