Participant Resources

How to Present a Successful Hackathon Demo

Tips to help hackathon participants nail their hackathon presentations.

A version of this post was originally published on TechCrunch.

It’s sad to stay up for three days building something awesome only to bomb the demo presentation. It’s no surprise it happens: You’re exhausted and racing to finish your project, with little time to plan your words, and only a few minutes to say them. 

Don’t worry, just focus on clearly explaining your project and remember that you’ve got this. Follow the tips below to help make sure you’re highlighting the key information for the judges.

1. Quickly Set the Scene

Why did you build this? In a few sentences, explain the problem you’re solving, or the status quo you’re greatly improving. The more the audience grasps the problem, the better. But remember, keep it short and to the point.

Some examples: “We all know doing math homework is a total drag, so… I created a robot to do it.” Or, “Urban planning is one of the most complex professions in the world. The tools on the market are expensive, outdated, and use two dimensions when the world has moved to 3D. I wanted to change that.”

2. Demo Your Working Project

Now that you’ve set the scene, it’s time for the most important part: Showing your project in action. Decide what’s important to show within the time you’re allotted. Briefly mention key technologies you used, or impressive technical challenges you overcame. Skip mundane flows such as creating user credentials, and have any needed text copied to your clipboard. Whatever you do, it’s crucial to show resolution to the problem you initially identified so your audience can see a) what your project does, and b) that you’ve completed the key components of it.

3. Quickly Wrap It up and Sell the Dream

Now that you’ve shown your project helps solve the problem you identified, spend a sentence or two highlighting its potential and any ambitions you have. The goal here is to help your audience understand its long-term impact.

4. Crush Your Online Presentation

Most hackathons require you to submit your projects online first so you get maximum exposure. Judges also use the platform to determine finalists. Start early as it will pay dividends and help you crystallize your thoughts. 

Like your verbal demo, a great online presentation will describe the problem you’re solving, show what the hack specifically does, and highlight its potential impact.

You should mention the technologies you used, anything interesting you learned, and give credit to your teammates. The best presentations we see on our platform include screenshots and a video demo. And remember, just because the hackathon ends, you don’t have to stop hacking. Keep updating your project so your fans stay in the loop.

Don’t Forget About the Resources Available to You

Before you start planning your presentation, don’t forget to check out the resources available to you while you’re building your project. At Devpost, we’ve got a ton of participant guides to help you plan your project, stay connected with team members and hackathon organizers, and use the Devpost platform.

Good luck!

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