Deep discovery to see whats relevant- don't feature dump, only show them what matters. I share what I heard from them in regards to an ideal solution and then also ask them if they wanted to add anything prior to the demo.
I do this every time. We call it a "what we heard recap" and I think it works really well. This is what you said - is it accurate? Want to add anything? Change anything? No, ok great let's get into it. Saves a lot of time and I think they usually respect that.
Slides are useful for me here (use them sparingly). I pull up a slide where I include: Current Situation, Impact/challenges, and then the ideal solution section. It shows you are listening to them and understand the situation.
1) Set mutually agreed-upon expectations of what the demo will cover and what it won't. E.g. this is a demonstration of the product, not an opportunity to test drive the solution for your specific use case. 2) Tailor the demo to the customer's challenges/pain points. Cookie-cutter won't cut it. 3) Treat the demo as an extension of discovery. Show them something, ask them how they can see it working for them. This enables a strong stickiness.
I'm in your shoes as well. I've found that when I tell a story about how this software will change their life for the better, instead of feature/function/benefit selling, then I get a much better response and more interest.
For example, you know a pain point and instead of saying feature "A" solves this problem for you, wrap it up in a story so they're like "Hell ya that's exactly what I'm looking for!"
Explain why. A demo isnt about how...the clicks and screens, its the why what you are showing is important and what outcomes it accomplishes. Also, always always stop and summarize what you just did in terms of business workflow not technology.