“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Meade

Demo night

Demo night is your team’s opportunity to showcase your project, share progress, inspire long-term community engagement, and get feedback from experts on how your project might be improved. This guide aims to provide practical advice as you prepare your presentation.

Below is a list of ingredients that make a great presentation.

  • A concise, relatable value proposition
  • Accompanying, audience-friendly slide deck
  • Practice / test your demo or walkthrough
Jane Slusser addressing the crowd at Kickoff Weekend
Jane Slusser addressing the crowd at Kickoff Weekend

Concise Value Proposition

You and your team of dedicated, talented hackers diligently made progress throughout the month. No one understands your project better than you. Preparing a concise, shareable value proposition will let you quickly communicate your enthusiasm and vision with others.

The best value propositions are short and sweet. If it takes more than 30-seconds to describe the value of your project, you might have to reconsider your presentation (or maybe even the value-proposition).

You might have a unique “elevator-pitch” for different audiences—make sure you know who you’re talking to when you give your “pitch”. Your goal is to get people to understand the project and help you be successful.

A good proof check is to ask yourself, “If we had 30 seconds with the Mayor, how would we describe our project?”

Check out of the resources below for common ‘value prop templates’ and structures.

  1. 7 Proven Templates for Writing Value Propositions That Work
  2. 3 More Proven Templates for Writing Value Propositions That Work
  3. Wikipedia-Value Proposition
Code for Philly Executive Director Dawn McDougall giving the rundown
Code for Philly Executive Director Dawn McDougall giving the rundown

Audience-friendly Slide Deck

Your slide deck should enhance your conversation with the judges and audience. How comprehensive your slide deck is will depend on your team and project status. At minimum, a project’s slide deck answers the following questions

  1. Who’s the project team? What combination of expertise and stakeholders is moving the project forward?
  2. Context for the problem you’re aiming to solve and what other efforts exist today
  3. An overview of the solution (your project) and what makes it different
  4. Why now? What made your team so excited to work on the project?
  5. How will you know your project has succeeded? What impact will your project have?
  6. What’s next, what resources do you need to achieve your outcome?

Hopefully, these are easy questions to answer! In fact, taking the time to summarize these points will help impress the judges (see the judges’ criteria summary below). Even better, you can [and should!] reuse these answers for your codeforphilly.org project listing. Doing so will help you attract ongoing interest in your project.

If you haven’t have had time to complete certain criteria on the rubric, that’s okay! We encourage teams to come prepared to speak about the strategy that will accomplish these items.

For example, to accomplish “User-centric Design” the design process may require surveying potential users, forming focus groups or partnering with community groups. At this point in the development of your project having a strategy for how “user-centric design” will be executed is a great start.


  • User-centric Design: How well were users (or other relevant stakeholders) understood and taken into consideration? User-centric projects understand the true needs of a user before development event begins, so that the tech built is usable.
  • Problem/Issue Analysis: How well was the problem or issue analyzed? Problems are easy to identify, but defining and executing a solution is a bigger challenge.
  • Solution/Problem Fit: Does the product address the problem or issue and provide a viable solution? Viable solutions mean that there is a demand for the product, it has a targeted group of users, and the message of the product is properly communicated.
  • Project Impact: How much impact will the solution have on the public good? How serious, complex, and valuable is the problem or issue being addressed?
  • Project Sustainability: How sustainable is the product? Has the team identified any potential support from outsiders or other community partners (if applicable)? Will there be lasting need or use for the product?
  • Innovation and Creativity: Did the team create a new solution or a unique combination of existing possibilities or products? Does the project leverage new or existing datasets in a novel way?
  • Presentation: How well did the team present their ideas? Were they clear, concise and easy-to-follow? What is the overall quality and creativity of the presentation?

Finally, remember to keep your slides audience-friendly. To do so, we encourage you to:

  • Create a logo to represent your project
  • Avoid large blocks of text, prefer bullet points
  • Prefer to use pictures, visuals, and screenshots where possible

Designing a logo helps your team, the community, and judges visualize your project as a tangible application. No need to fret if you’re lacking a team member with the skills and time to create a custom, professional logo.

If not then simply getting an image and color choices on paper can be a huge step. The important part is to do some due diligence on logo design and get some ideas together that team members can stand behind. Designing a logo is an important start to the larger communications strategy ahead. It is also a great opportunity for the group to do some initial research of other similar applications in use.

Luke Butler from Curalate talking to the crowd
Luke Butler from Curalate talking to the crowd

Practice / test your demo or walkthrough

Product demonstrations are not mandatory, but are highly encouraged. Live demos showcase all the hard work your team has contributed throughout the month.

If you choose to present, you’ll be speaking in front of a group of 50 or more people including 3-5 expert panelists. You’ll only have about 5 minutes to cover a lot of ground, so you want to make sure you include the most impactful information that best communicates your project.

For less familiar with presenting and/or public-speaking, check out the tips below and make sure to practice your presentation as much as possible before demo night.


  • Select 1-2 use cases to demonstrate how your project compares but adds unique value to solving a real-world issue
  • Stick to the high-level steps and actions; avoid the urge to spend time describing small, technical details that are less relevant and subject to change
  • Decide in advance logistical details like: — The laptop you’ll use — A backup in case you have to use a different computer — Who is speaking and in what order (hint: fewer transitions between speakers saves you lots of precious presentation time)
  • Avoid surprises or the awkward live demo moments by testing and practicing all the functionality you plan to review

If you need more help or chances to practice, reach out to the hackathon planning team in the #caash Slack channel. Otherwise, we’ll see you at hack night!

Attendee Information

If you would like to attend the Project Demo Night, you can sign up here.

Photo Credit: All photos taken by Chris Kendig