By Steve Adubato, PhD
As leaders, we are often either asked or required to make team presentations, group presentations or presentations that require professionals and others to work together and communicate in a cohesive, coordinated and compelling fashion.
But presenting as a team can sometimes be more difficult than presenting alone. With this in mind, consider some tools and techniques the next time you have to lead a presentation with a colleague:
• Trust each other. Without trust, no team can successfully present. You must have full confidence that other presenters understand that you are all in this together.
• Look out for each other and "rescue" your partner if you think he or she needs it. You can only do this if you genuinely care about how your partner presents and see your fate tied to his or her performance. It's not enough that you did a good job. That's the difference between being part of a team and going it alone.
• Balance the time that each person presents. If one person is doing 90 percent of the talking, your audience will begin to wonder why the other presenter is even there. Make sure each presenter's role plays to his or her strengths with respect to content and style.
• If you have to correct your colleague, do it in a diplomatic and delicate fashion. If the mistake he has made is minor and doesn't significantly impact on the quality of the presentation, leave it alone.
• Check your ego at that door. See your presentation partner “chiming in” not as an interruption, but as a compliment to what you are saying. It is critical that you see your presentation partner "chiming in" not as an interruption but as a compliment to what you are saying.
• Be conversational and refer to each other by name. When one of your colleagues is presenting, it is essential that you stay focused on what is being said. Avoid the temptation to daydream just because it is not "your turn" to speak. Be engaged and involved and you will see opportunities to add to the team presentation whether it was part of the script or not.
• Have a "blueprint" or game plan for who is going to play what role in the presentation, but don’t have it set in stone. Be structured and organized but remain flexible enough to respond and react to the fluid dynamics of the situation. Keep a conversational tone, which will allow for such spontaneity.
• Know exactly who is going to open and who is going to close a presentation. Don't leave that to chance. Avoid any awkward silence or confusion when the time comes to "close" the deal. Every team that presents must have a leader or, as I like to say, a “quarterback” who will facilitate or hand the ball off and take it back to keep the presentation moving forward in a positive direction.
• Practice, practice, practice. There is no substitute for it. Do a mock team presentation before colleagues who will give you honest feedback. This will allow you to tighten up your timing and the handing off from one presenter to another. It will also give you more confidence that you are truly prepared when the time comes to present for real. Never think you can simply “wing it”, because each one of you knows your part of the presentation. That won’t get it done. What you don’t know and haven’t perfected is how the team will present as a group, which is very different than each one of you knowing your individual part. Remember, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.