Taking a team approach to presenting has its advantages, and disadvantages. Some people feel that speaking as part of a group is less daunting or stressful but it can certainly prove challenging unless you understand the pitfalls associated with group dynamics. If the proper preparation is made with your team, speaking as part of a group can result in a positive outcome for everyone involved.
Some of the advantages of presenting in a group setting include a lighter preparation load, mitigated fear or anxiety, and the ability to keep things interesting for your audience. These outcomes are the results of working with a team that has clear objectives and works diligently to prepare and fashion a presentation that meets the expectations of their audience. Some of the best presentations are done by teams. At the same time, when proper guidelines are not followed, team presentations can have a less than desirable outcome. Here are some guidelines you should follow for making any team presentation have impact.
1) Roles and Responsibilities
Although no one really likes to talk about it, someone must assign roles to each member of your team. If there is no clear leader or a defined task list, it will be difficult to pull the presentation together. Much like a baseball game, if the catcher tries to play short stop or the pitcher decides to play left-field, it will be chaos. Avoid any role confusion by identifying who will do what from your first meeting. Each person should have a responsibility and clear understanding of their role.
The other area you need consider is who will be the first presenter or the main presenter. What role will others in the group play? Is everyone going to speak? Some people are more comfortable doing the research or preparing the power point but don’t want to speak. Keep that in mind as you identify the roles and responsibilities of your team members.
2) Keep the Group Manageable
It’s difficult to keep a group of 3 or more people organized and coordinated. I’m not saying that you should limit group size to less than three, but realize that with each additional person you are adding a layer of complexity that can prove ineffective. Choose team members carefully and assemble your team with an understanding of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to have one plus one equal three. By selectively combining the intelligence, personality, and experience that each person can bring, you increase your chances of delivering an effective presentation.
3) Focus on Your Goal
Too often teams get mired in the details. If the group agrees on the end goal, preparation tends to go more smoothly. You may argue on the best route to get there but ultimately it will all work out. Begin with the end in mind. Remain open to the thoughts and opinions of you team. If you’ve selected and defined roles carefully, you’ll have a process for agreeing what is talked about, how, and in what order.
4) Rehearsal is Key
I’m a big proponent of rehearsing your presentation over and over again prior to giving a speech. This is especially true when you are working with a group. Not only should each team member practice individually, but the group should run through the presentation multiple times together. Just like a dress rehearsal, practicing as a team is essential for success.
Even if you are well prepared individually, that doesn’t guarantee a flawless performance. When you have multiple people on stage, there’s a completely different dynamic. Each team member needs a clear understanding of what they will say, when they will say it, and where they should stand. Many of these items only surface when the team is rehearsing together. Don’t overlook this very important step for preparation.
5) Work as a Team
I know this probably goes without saying, but you need to work as a team. If you are not working cohesively, it shows. Your audience can only absorb a portion of your message. If each speaker goes in a different direction, talks about singular ideas in vastly different ways, your message becomes nebulous. Working as a team means focusing on a shared objective and working together to get there.
Some of the best advice I ever received for group presentations is to “present as one”. Although we are each independent, group presentations need to rally around a specific idea, theme, or goal. To do so, you must work as a true team. When you do, the results speak for themselves.
Before doing your next team presentation, follow the above guidelines, focus on your goal, and work as a team to be successful. Group presentations can be rewarding for both speakers and audiences so give it a try and notice how you feel. Do you like the group approach? If so, incorporate group presentations into your toolkit. If not, take what you’ve learned and make your next presentation even better.