It’s safe to say that team presentations involve a lot of moving parts, not to forget the different personalities and confidence levels that presenters bring with them.
Your people may be seasoned presenters but team them up to present with others, and heaps of questions can arise: How do you start a team presentation? Who ends a team presentation? How do you seamlessly hand over to the next presenter or who fields questions from the audience?
In this blog post we discuss how teams can collaborate to plan, practise and present successfully as a group.
1. Know your roles within the team
Why this is important: Assigning roles based on peoples’ strengths will create accountability and ensure things don’t fall through the cracks.
Take the time to assess your team – of course you will select people to present certain sections within the presentation based on their expertise and experience.
But you should also consider some additional factors. E.g. some may be better at explaining and simplifying difficult-to-understand ideas while others are good at engaging the audience and providing supporting information through humour, videos and interesting case studies.
It’s also important to have a strong opening speaker to kick things off smoothly. The same goes for the closing speaker – pick someone who has both the credibility and ability to summarise the call to action clearly.
Now, let’s assume everyone has been assigned a 10-minute speaking slot based on their strengths and you’ve got strong opening and closing speakers.
But who takes accountability for things like design, delivery, questions and setting the boardroom up?
Here are some ways to make your next team presentation smooth and effective:
- Choose one person who will be accountable for the overall presentation. This person should ideally be a senior team member who can make a final decision on points of disagreement and ensure that the main goal of the presentation is achieved.
- Next, assign responsibilities for the smaller moving parts like consistency in design, the order of presenters, organising rehearsals, AV checks, timekeeping and so on.
- Finally, put someone in charge of the dry run, which should be scheduled at least a week before the presentation. This is important so people have enough time to work on constructive feedback before the day of the presentation.
Remember that unequal participation can negatively impact the dynamics of your team, so sharing responsibility is important!
2. Ensure the presentation is cohesive
Why this is important: Team members may have differing opinions about the message they want to convey. Having a clear goal before everyone starts working on their slides will make the deck cohesive.
One pitfall with team presentations is that each team member will likely have their own agenda to push. But having too many messages crammed into a single presentation can confuse the audience.
The best way to tackle this is by coming together to set a single goal for the presentation. For example, ‘Outsourcing our HR & payroll operations will save costs.’
Doing this before anything else is key to developing powerful sections that blend well with the big picture. Missing this step could result in duplication of content, inconsistency in the flow (and impact) of different sections, and not enough clarity about who’s presenting what.
Check-in as a group other around important details:
- Start with a clear beginning, middle and end. For example: Your Operations Manager could begin with why, as a non-core function, payroll processing doesn’t give the business strategic differentiation. Your IT Systems Manager could then explain how a vendor could bring more advanced technology to your payroll processing. Next, the HR/Payroll Manager could talk about how much time and resources your organisation could save, and so on.
- Ensure that every section contributes to your presentation’s main aim.
- Decide on the style of your slides and the use of media like images or videos.
- If data is critical to your presentation, ensure everyone knows the go-to data collection sources or people to interview so there are no conflicting numbers.
Finally, everyone needs to know all of the information inside out, even if they’re not presenting it, in case someone can’t make it on the day.
3. Have a strategy in place for question time
Why this is important: Question time can be nerve-wracking. In a group presentation, question time can also cause some confusion if too many people jump in to answer at once, or worse still, if no one seems to know who will answer the question.
It’s best to have the overall leader of your team presentation to direct questions to the speaker with the most relevant knowledge.
Remember to pause before answering and formulate your thoughts – keep your reply concise and ensure it answers the question. If you don’t understand the question, there’s no harm in asking for a clarification. To learn more about answering questions with confidence during a presentation, read this blog.
In the same vein, if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to say so. You can look into the question and return with the best answer later.
4. Always have a group rehearsal
Why this is important: While everyone practising their individual presentations is great, it doesn’t guarantee that once you’ve combined all the slides, it will go well.
As they say, practice makes perfect – and you definitely need to schedule a group rehearsal to present and engage a large audience. Here are some things that you should aim to cover in a dry run of your presentation:
- The order of speakers as well as deciding who opens and who ends. Otherwise you may have a lot of shuffling around on the stage, making your team look underprepared even if they’re not!
- The transition dialogue so as to recap the last section and briefly introduce the next section and speaker. For longer presentations, it’s a good idea to provide an agenda for the audience which details who is speaking against each section within the presentation. Fine-tuning and adjusting time for each section. This keeps the presentation from being too lengthy, so you don’t lose the audience’s interest. It will also ensure you stick to the time allocated for the presentation – making sure you also allow time for questions!
- In terms of opening a presentation, this is usually done by the most senior person in the team. But not always. It could be done by the person with the most subject matter expertise, or who has the closest relationship with the audience. Whoever it is, they need to be strong, confident speaker who can set the tone for the rest of the presentation. One of their roles should be to introduce the speakers.
- It’s important that introductions establish the credibility of each speaker i.e. why are they there.
- When ending the presentation, it’s usual to select the person who opened the presentation. Their job is to deliver a clear, concise summary that highlights all the key points, and then the overall message or final call-to-action.
5. Be supportive and put up a united front
Remember that you’re in this together and teamwork is a non-negotiable item if you want to inspire confidence in your audience. Help each other out if someone gets stuck. Put up a united front by being mindful of these small but important details:
- Arrive on time so the entire team has enough time to set things up.
- If someone can’t answer a question, step in and answer it for them.
- Be an attentive listener as they present, laughing, nodding and reacting in a supportive manner throughout the presentation.
- Avoid the urge to go through your notes when your team is presenting.
- Remember that if in the planning process you argue, you’re only human. Work out how you can move forward in a way that makes the most of each presenter’s strengths.
If you think your people could benefit from a program that helps them persuade, inspire and influence even the most cynical audiences the presentation skills experts at secondnature are here to help.
Written By Belinda Huckle
Founder and Managing DirectorRead Bio
Belinda is the founder and managing director of secondnature. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.
She believes in a training approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.
Belinda is currently helping to transform the presentation skills of people in organisations such as BBC Worldwide, DHL, ESRI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Pfizer, Roche, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.