Group Presentations: To Do or Not to Do?

When a client tells me they want to do a group presentation, my first instinct is to say DON’T DO IT! They take a lot more time. (I mean a lot!) It’s harder to make the presentation cohesive. The increased complexity means more risk of things going wrong. Long story short, they are just harder to manage.

But, the truth is, I want to say DO! Group presentations can be incredible. 

When done well, they provide a diversity of perspectives and styles, which can make for a memorable message

2 Questions to Consider Before a Group Presentation

So, if you are considering a group presentation, or if you are considering asking your team for a group presentation, there are two big questions to ask yourself before you commit.

1. Do you have time?

You need time to prepare.

If the presentation is next week, reconsider a group presentation. The time commitment needed to plan and prepare a group presentation expands exponentially for each person you add. There’s probably a math equation for this. 

You need time to deliver.

If you have 15 minutes or less to present, it might be best to pick one spokesperson. You need a lot more time in delivery. Time for transitions. Time to introduce yourself and why the audience should listen to you. Time, time, time. For short presentations I have rarely found it’s worth it.

2. Why have more than one speaker?

I get it–we want every person on a team to have a moment to shine. But why does the audience need to hear from each person?

I am coaching a talk now where the role of each speaker was clearly defined in our first meeting. The leader speaks to vision and mission. The data expert unpacks the data reasoning. The sales leader speaks to how the team will implement in the field. While their jobs actually are more intertwined than that, the presentation is stronger for clear delineations and the audience can remember the details of the presentation more easily. 

If the roles make sense to the audience and add meaning and relevance, then you might just have a killer group presentation on your hands.

Tips for Successful Group Presentations

If you decide to go forward with a group presentation, we want to help you make it great. Here are 5 things to plan for to ensure it is a success.

1. Plan the structure first.

Before putting slides together. Before sending each presenter away on their own to decide what they will say. Hold a meeting to decide what the storyline is for the entire presentation. THEN each presenter needs their own storyline. Remember when I said group presentations are more work? This is one reason why.

2.  Plan on less time.

Got 30 minutes? Plan 20 minutes (or so) of content. While this is true of any talk. It is especially true in group talks. The chance of going long increases with each speaker you add.  *And the final speaker always pays the price.

3. Plan your handoffs.

Just like a relay race– the handoff is critical. What will each speaker say as they give the metaphorical baton to the next speaker? What will the next person say to bring the message toward the finish line? My tip: Keep those handoffs smooth, simple and BRIEF. Ask yourself: if you didn’t have multiple speakers, how would you transition? This will help your audience follow your storyline. 

4. Plan to rehearse.

Every presentation of consequence needs practice. Group presentations take more. Each person needs time to practice on their own. Then, you must make sure you plan time to practice together, give feedback, and make changes. With more schedules to wrangle this needs attention.

5. Plan the Q&A.

If you are taking questions, who will take which questions? If you are a large group, who will manage the Q&A, clarifying questions, getting them to the right speaker, and then clarifying any messages that might get lost.  

Group presentations take teamwork, but they can be cohesive and successful when you follow these tips. Happy (group) presenting– and have fun!

Want to Speak with Impact? We Can Help.

Do you have an important talk on the calendar? Whether it’s a group presentation or an individual effort, we can help. We’ve worked with leaders from business, education, science, healthcare, and philanthropy put their message into stories with impact. Contact us and let us know how we can support you.