Developing Team Presentations


By Odette Pollar,

You and your special projects team have just been asked to present your findings at the next quarterly meeting. Worse, representatives from the home office will attend. Developing a presentation on your own can be challenging. Doing it as a group effort can be even more so. Here is a strategy for planning and presenting as a team that will serve you well.

Create a schedule for developing the presentation. Lay out a realistic plan for development, practice, review, graphic creation, testing and visual aids. As with any type of project, you eliminate the last-minute hysteria of trying to pull everything together if you meet the major milestones.

Team members should first talk about specific objectives of the session. What needs and expectations must be satisfied? What must happen at the end of this session that will indicate success? Who will be in attendance? Are there any specific audience needs other than content that must be met? i.e.: translators, signers, special equipment for the hearing impaired etc.

Develop a theme. This helps define the focus or message of the presentation. Often the theme is set by senior management rather than by the team participants. To avoid wasted time, or worse having to scrap earlier work, get this information up front prior to starting to plan.

Identify the structure and type of presentation you will be delivering. Frequently, team presentations are highly technical and offer a great deal of data. Keep in mind that vast quantities of information will not be absorbed by the listeners. If your intent is to give them updated figures and background information, provide that in a separate handout at the end of the presentation. If you try to cram it all in, you come up with a presentation that becomes dull and boring, or runs too long.

Develop outlines. For each section of the presentation, clearly identify key points to be made. Focus on clarity. In general, simpler is better. This is not to say that sophisticated topics need to be "dumbed down", but that highly complex topics must be streamlined for easy understanding.

Allocate times for each speaker. Just because there are six in the team does not mean all have to participate equally. A common mistake is to forget other time considerations. Will top management or your division manager first make a few remarks? How much time will be spent on questions and answers?

Remember your participants needs. Plan for stretch breaks and vary the pacing of the program. Even though your individual segment may be only 30 minutes, if there are five presentations by each team member, people will be sitting for two-and-a-half hours. Offer refreshments at a midway point. Visuals can help break up the presentation and support key points. Don't use too many of them, and in the case of slides, dimmed lighting can encourage napping after lunch.

Practice your portion of the presentation and practice as a team. Make more than one dry run and never wait until the day before the event for your first run through. That leaves almost no time for changes to accommodate the inevitable snags that will occur. Each member needs to be familiar with everyone else's content. This is a good time to check that the segments all hang together and are consistent. Changes happen between the initial commitment and the day of the presentation. This prevents surprises, content overlap, and conflicting communication styles.

Pay attention to those awkward transition points. Who runs the equipment-and where will it be set? Who is the back-up? Are you going to walk off stage left and the next presenter enter stage right? Will there be chairs on stage? How will you pass each other when exiting? A rehearsal decreases pre-meeting tension and helps ensure a good impression and audience response.

Arrive at the presentation site early and check your equipment. Remember to pack spare bulbs, batteries and anything else that can burn out. Take a few minutes before your segment to relax. When you step forward to begin your segment remember to smile and have fun.

Odette Pollar is a nationally known speaker, author, and consultant. President of the management consulting firm, Smart Ways to Work based in Oakland, CA, her most recent book is Surviving Information Overload. Email to share your comments, questions and suggestions: Visit us at: call: 1-800-599-8463.

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