Once your team presentation is developed, you will want to begin the process of preparing everyone for delivery of the presentation. Your goal here is to make each team member as comfortable and confident as possible, so dedicate whatever time it takes to get everyone ready individually and as a team. It is also a great time to reconsider each role; is each individual capable of pulling their weight? If not, do you have time to develop them, or arrange for them to have some special training or coaching to get them ready? Here are 10 suggestions for successful preparation:
1. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. When pulling together a team presentation, it is important that everyone become familiar with presentation content, visual aids, and transitions between presenters. Because everyone presents in a unique way, it is critical that the team practice together in order to reach a high level of comfort with the presentation and each other.
2. Request that all team members rehearse their respective parts before the team practice. Practicing out loud – at least 3 times, and saying the words differently each time will help build confidence and spontaneity. Having team members practice in their heads won’t work as well as actually saying it out loud, so encourage informal practice sessions. A great practice technique is to video practice sessions and review them for timing, content and delivery.
3. Assign a timekeeper so you can be sure that each speaker can deliver his/her content in the time allowed. It is critical that you are able to end on time and allow opportunities for questions, while still getting across all of your essential points. It might be a wise move to brainstorm ways to speed up if you fall behind, or if you get a late start.
4. Include introductions as part of your preparation and rehearsal. The team leader should be ready with a brief, succinct introduction of what’s to come and who the key presenters are. State the overall theme. Also find the most relevant things to say about each presenter other than simply their name and title.
5. Ace openings and closings. When used properly, these bind the presentation into a smooth, cohesive effort. The first and last things you say often set the stage for success, and may be the key things that are remembered, so plan and rehearse openings and closings thoroughly.
6. Plan and rehearse transitions, the bridging elements that conclude one section and start another. They can create a common thread, so when one speaker finishes, the next begins logically. Example: “So that’s an overview of the history of our firm and the work we focus on. Next Mary will show you some examples of recent projects.”
7. Design your presentation so it limits the number of transitions between team members. One transition per group member is a good rule of thumb. Going back and forth between speakers just adds to the complexity of the presentation.
8. Prepare for the no-show. One “worst case scenario” is that one of your team members is avoidably detained from attending your presentation. Have team members prepare different parts of the presentation so that each part has a “lead” and an “understudy.” You may wish to have the understudy and the key presenter prepare and rehearse together.
9. Do a final run-through. Assemble a small live audience to serve as a sounding board. Think of this as a dress rehearsal before opening night. It’s likely you’ll still find things to improve upon, so allow a few days to make final adjustments.
10. Plan ahead for Q&A. Decide beforehand who will answer certain subject areas, or which cues to use to invite other speakers to address the question. The team leader can direct questions to the appropriate team member.
Time for preparing and rehearsing a presentation is always a challenge, and it is even more so when you are working as a team. Remember what is riding on this presentation; a successful proposal, a new client, or a new project? If it is important enough to bring the team along to the presentation, it is probably well worthwhile to take the proper time and steps to prepare and rehearse thoroughly.
How does your team prepare for critical presentations?