6 tips to help your group presentations be a dream – not a nightmare!
A large proportion of the presentation skills masterclasses we carry out in-company tend to be for individuals within a team. These individuals want to give their presentation skills a serious overhaul to bring them to the next level. Or in some instances, individuals on the team are giving their own presentation at a conference, all hands, quarterly business review or other internal or external event and want to be at their absolute best.
However, more and more, we find clients approaching us to work with teams of people who would not ordinarily present.
Well, the main reason is that quite often clients, or prospective clients, want to see more than a salesperson. They want to see the people who they will deal with, day to day and week to week, in the course of transacting their business. Whether that is an outsourced IT team, auditors or a creative team.
Presenting as a group raises certain issues that you need to address so that your team comes across as a cohesive TEAM rather than a haphazard bunch of people who happen to be speaking after one another.
One of the biggest pitfalls we see is where too much time is spent on content and preparing beautiful slides. In fact, we have heard clients tell us they were up after midnight the night before a presentation, still fiddling with the content!
The upshot of all this time spent on content and slides? Too little time being spent on practising the delivery and the small things that can turn your team into a dream team!
Below are a few of our top tips to help you do this as a group.
Tip 1: Be consistent
As in any good presentation, the purpose/s should be super clear.
There are 2 overall purposes: #1 the purpose from the point of view of the audience. #2 the purpose from your point of view as the presenting team.
You don’t need to share with the listeners your #2 purpose (that is for yourselves). However, the #1 purpose should form part of a consistent theme that runs throughout.
For example – let’s say you are an IT solutions provider. You are pitching to a potential professional services client who has expanded their team to include users all over the world. They have been struggling to keep the users overseas serviced well. Their main concern is to ensure that they have cover 24/7, 365 days of the year, with people who can speak the language of their local overseas teams. Your overall purpose is to convince them that you can meet this need.
So, throughout the presentation, this “24/7 x 365 message” and the “local language” should be repeated by several of the team.
Also, remember to be consistent with the language, terminology and numbers you use. I remember working with a team in a destination management company. Three of the team referred to a particular statistic about their company – all used a different number!
Get consistent on the messaging and on the content.
Tip 2: Draw a line in the content – at least 3 days beforehand
How many times have you said: “If we had just one more day – we could make this content so much better”? Well, you had one more day yesterday and you had 7 more days a week ago!
There comes a time when you have to say – it’s good enough. Accept that it will most likely never be perfect and the additional time spent adding and tweaking will be much better spent working on getting the delivery right.
In particular, keep in mind the more junior, or less experienced presenters. You need to give them enough time to practice their content. They will most likely be somewhat nervous. Landing the content on them less than 24 hours before the presentation could be a nightmare for everyone.
So, draw the line in the sand an absolute minimum of 3 days before your presentation, but to seriously enhance your chances of success – do it 7 days before.
Tip 3: Link forward / back
This is unbelievably simple to do and adds another layer of professionalism and cohesion to your presentation.
Referring, even in a few words to something that has been said already, or that will be said, lets the listeners know that you know each other’s content – that you are a team. It can also build a sense of anticipation of what is to come.
Tip 4: Choreography and transitioning
This can be broken down into 3 key areas: the entrance; the transition between each speaker; the exit. As a group, you need to be clear on how to move in all 3 areas to keep the professionalism going.
How are you going to walk to the presenting area (whether it is a stage, or a small area at the front of a room)?
Are you walking individually, or in pairs?
Which order are you going to walk in?
How will you transition?
With regards to transitioning, you need to plan how you will transition between each speaker – both physically and verbally. One technique I particularly like is where the speaker who is transitioning does a mini-summary, perhaps just repeating the key point. Then they introduce the next speaker … they can big them up somewhat better than the speaker can usually big themselves up!
How you exit your presentation as a group is equally as important. Do not leave in a haphazard manner; plan how you will walk off (if applicable).
Tip 5: Where to look
If you are standing up front, as a team, for a group presentation, decide what works best for you. Some people like to stand side-on to the audience and watch their fellow speaker. Others prefer to stand at a 45° angle – this allows them to get used to facing the audience and also to gauge their reactions. Whatever way you are looking be sure that you have pleasant facial gestures that are supportive of your fellow team mate.
Tip 6: What to do if a team mate makes a mistake
This is a question we often get asked. Sometimes, it requires a bit of a poker face! Be conscious to remain supportive, remember we are all human.
We suggest that if the mistake is small or inconsequential – just let it go. If however, it really needs to be corrected, then correct it. You need to think on your feet to decide if it is best to correct it “in the moment”, or refer to it later on in the presentation. Whatever way you decide to do it – do not let your colleague lose face. Sometimes making a lighthearted reference to it can work best.
Speaking as a group brings its own challenges, however, let me finish with a few added benefits to help outweigh these.
Relieves pressure – when a presentation or pitch is split among the team, it helps to relieve the pressure felt by each person, as accountability and responsibility is shared between the group.
Audience – speaking as a group allows another team member to watch the audience and keep an eye on their reactions.
Variety – it also gives the audience variety as there are different speakers each with their own different style.
Potential clients – if pitching for new business, it means potential clients get to see more of the team they’ll be working with, which in itself is a positive for them.
Confidence – it builds confidence among team members. As a manager, you can delegate specific areas of the presentation to people who wouldn’t normally step forward.
The same goes if you, as the manager, wouldn’t normally present – if you top and tail the presentation it will emphasise the unity of the team.
If your team are preparing for a group presentation and you want them to be a Dream Team – please feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.