Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Put the WOW in your Team Presentations - 3 Simple Tips

Team reports/pitches are commonplace in a corporate environment and executives and managers present in this manner often without realizing there are special tactics to make this type of presentation more effective.

I’ve worked with clients on specific presentations with a targeted outcome and also with executive teams on mastering their pitches. I have seen how far more powerfully impactful and convincing a team presentation can be, if done properly. The idea of presenting with a team may be comforting for some, as the pressure is not entirely imposed upon the individual and it feels safer to stand up with your trusted team members. However, it can totally backfire if the team is not aligned on the message or have not prepared properly. 

From my work over the years with team sales pitches and project presentations, here are some basic guidelines that will be useful for the next time you are presenting as a team. 

Join our next Dynamic Presentation Skills Workshop on July 7, 2012. 

1. Achieve Team Alignment – it may seem glaringly obvious but many teams go into preparation and presentation mode “assuming” everyone is aligned on the objective. There may be a complete disconnect from Joe the Designer to Frank the Finance Manager on the outcome of the presentation or they may have their own personal agendas. Make sure that the team discusses FIRST AND FOREMOST the objective of the presentation and the desired outcome. After a discussion where everyone has a chance to voice out, achieve alignment and commitment.  

I once coached a very senior executive team on a high profile pitch and before we edited the slides or worked on each speaker’s presentation, I proceeded to get alignment on the objective. They thought it was a strange start to the process and after a one-hour discussion when the entire team became clear on what the desired outcome was, they exclaimed that it was inspiring and one even said, “It was a revolutionary process!” That was when I realized that many teams miss out on this step.

Your audience will feel the solidarity and consistency in your team’s message if you are all singing to the same tune. Yes, so simple but yet so often missed.

2. Identify Each Team Member’s Strengths in Expertise, Credibility and Presentation Style. It’s a strategic game and some tactical manoeuvring may need to take place, especially if you are pitching for a big account or you are given only one shot to get budget approval with the presentation.

Once you have achieved your team alignment and message, decide on the players to present to your audience. Which expert may win the key points, which team member has credibility or relationship with audience members that may sway the results and who has the strongest presentation style to open/close the presentation? Do not just slot speakers purely based on the content.

If you have a content expert who is a poor speaker, maybe this expert can share the key points and allow a stronger speaker to open and close this section. If you have a strong presenter who is not a subject matter expert, make him/her the emcee or hold the presentation format by transitioning one speaker to the other. If you have a team member who has the credibility in the eyes of the audience, let this speaker open the presentation and close with strong influence. Maximize your team’s strengths and set everyone up for success. (For additional tips on how to make a pitch, please check out: A Formula for Your Next Sales Presentation

3. Transition Smoothly Between Each Speaker – Again, very simple and somewhat obvious but this often gets overlooked. Because teams sometimes may not have the benefit of time to rehearse together before a presentation, it shows when there is an awkward and disjointed transition between each speaker. Even if managers are trained on presenting, many of them are not trained on how to close a presentation properly and transition over to the next speaker for a team outcome. Individually they may present well or better than their colleagues but for a team presentation, this does not help to achieve the objective.

Not only should the content flow logically and smoothly, when a speaker finishes, he/she should transition the next speaker in seamlessly and to set them up for success. This is one guideline that seems to be a new concept with many clients I work with. They believe that their job is to deliver their presentation smashingly but this does not extend to ensuring their colleagues also do the same. It’s a radical concept that not only do they have to look good; they have to make their team members look as well!

One final simple tip on this guideline is to manage the audio/visual materials, handouts, slides, props, and other presentation materials in advance. It is very unprofessional and looks very ill-prepared when each speaker needs an extra 5 minutes to plug in his/her laptop. Make sure it’s all consolidated in one device and a helper is managing all the visual aids/materials. The speakers have enough to focus on without also having to worry about the slides being in place or the videos are cued up properly.

Hope you will be able to benefit from these simple tips in your next team presentation. If you have a specific question, please direct your inquiry to presentation_tips@biz-results.net or review our webpage for other articles and tips on effective presentation skills.

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