Group presentations are often more appropriate than one from a single speaker. Some sales presentations or company policy changes may require the expertise of several people in one presentation. Handling the group presentation with coordinating themes and strong support/evidence plus integrating three, four, or five different personalities and approaches into one 45-minute presentation is a challenge. Here are some suggestions on how to make the group or multi-person presentation effective.
First, appoint one of the speakers to be in charge. If this is not done and something unexpected occurs, no one has the responsibility for the group. They may lose credibility because of uncertainty in how to respond. In addition, when a question is asked, the speaker in charge immediately refers it to the person with the appropriate expertise; thus there is no uncertain pause because no one knows who will answer the question.
Second, each speaker should know what each of the other speakers is going to say. This knowledge will help each person avoid duplication of material and each can make appropriate references to another speaker’s content if it applies. This knowledge helps insure continuity among the different speakers.
Third, the last words of each speaker should segue into what the next speaker will cover. This adds unity to the entire presentation and gives the new speaker a smooth opening to his or her material. An example might be, “Now Susan will cover the financial aspects of our proposal and help you understand the benefits this will give you.”
Fourth, if possible, the strongest speaker should end the group presentation. The ending is the most important part of the presentation; people remember best what you say last. You want to have an ending speaker who can show passion and enthusiasm for the topic.
Finally, a dress rehearsal is essential. The group members need to get a feel of the complete message to see how they can best contribute. In addition, with several people speaking it is hard to gauge the time the speakers will take. This dress rehearsal allows the group to time the presentation and to make adjustments in each portion in order to be under the time limit; the more people involved the more unpredictable will be the gauging of total time. With everyone hearing the other speeches, each speaker can give feedback to the others that will improve the quality of the whole presentation. Extraneous material can be eliminated as well.
Following these suggestions will contribute to an excellent group effort. The presentation will be one that the audience will see not as a segmented series of several different speeches but as a unified whole.
Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is Professor Emeritus of Speech Communication, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University, near Cincinnati. He presents keynotes and seminars to corporations and associations whose people want to speak and listen effectively.
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(859) 441-6520 or email info@SBoyd.com