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Tales of a Product Manager’s Television debut with M.Net!

So Mirametrix was invited to the M. Net show on the 18th of April 2012 to present our Mirametrix S2 Eye tracker. Being the product manager, that meant I was the person to show off our product.  Fantastic! Right?

But this is a live taping (Welcome to the world of live TV demos.  no second takes if something goes wrong), it’s my first time on live television, I have no clue what questions I will be asked (the bane of the over-prepared), and  it’s the first time our product will be used on a TV set… by a co-host who has never tried an eye tracker before.

Fortunately, I was confident about our product performing well, and had done this presentation enough times to be able to recite my monologue and think about what to make for supper at the same time(I am the product manager after all). Still, many questions were on my mind, such as ‘What should I wear?’ and ’Should my hair be straight or curly?’

The day of the taping, the usual nerves kicked in: ‘Oh gosh, what equipment should we bring? Do we have the laptop ready with the demo? Do we have a backup, extra screens and cables?’ I asked one of the interns to help me get everything ready, test the demo multiple times, and over pack.

We arrived at the studio while another live show was taping, with half an hour to set everything up and test the demo.  I got a quick tour of where I would be sitting, and where the demo will take place. With the help of our intern, I started setting up and testing.  After a few necessary ‘everything that can go wrong, will go wrong’ modifications, we got the demo up and running. Just when I start relaxing, I am told that we can’t have the equipment installed before the show, because it will take up too much space on the table for the first segment. I panic. “You mean I’ll have 30 seconds during the commercial break to set up everything and test again?” Yes.

We unpack everything and hide the pelican case in a corner.

I go upstairs where I meet the host, Denis Talbot and the other people on the team.  He was very nice and made me extremely comfortable, until he announces that he will not be going over the questions with me now to make sure the conversation flows naturally. With the demo not set up, and no way to prepare myself for the questions, it felt like they had stabbed my over-prepared self in the heart and were asking me to wing it!

The show is about to start, we are taken downstairs and I am sitting in the background while other segments are presented. I get quite comfortable thanks to the intern that came with me and Claude Arson, the researcher for the show.

It’s the commercial break, we get all the demo setup in 30 seconds and Tristan Geoffroy, the co-host and guinea pig for the eye tracker, tests it quickly, they place the microphone on me and… WE ARE LIVE!

Want to know how I did? You can watch my segment at 15:30.

So, what did I learn from this nerve racking/stressful experience?

1) No tech talk:  Product managers tend to get lost in technical details when trying to explain their technology. The general population will not remember HOW it works, but WHAT it does. Focus on applications and key features and avoid the technical lingo.

2) Keep it simple: Yes, there might be 324 applications of your technology, but the capacity of human short-term memory is in the order of 4 to 5 items max. Think about what these 4 items should be and make sure they are explained in a simple way for people to understand and remember them.

3) Don’t worry, I’m a professional:  Trust the TV crew. They are good at improvising if anything goes wrong and at helping you showcase your technology in a great way. Between camera angle changes and pre-recorded videos, they keep it dynamic and interesting and can hide minor glitches.

Thank you to Julien Limoges, our intern, for being my moral support during that day and staying with me during the taping!

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