How to Deliver a Team Presentation

Get tips on how you and your co-presenters can successfully deliver a smooth team presentation.

Lisa B. Marshall,
April 29, 2010
Episode #089

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An Example of Co-Presenting

One time, my sister Debbie (I should say Dr. Deborah Boehm-Davis) and I co-presented at a psychology conference. She provided examples that were specific to her area of psychology while I supplied more general communication research and examples. We took turns delivering main points. 

In our notes, Deb and I very clearly marked who was supposed to be talking when. When it’s an equal partner presentation, there are no verbal cues for transitions (like I talked about last week), yet the transitions still need to be seamless. So that means you have to discuss and agree on who will take the lead—and then practice. It’s almost like creating and rehearsing a script so that everyone knows when it’s their turn to speak.

Why Practicing a Co-Presentation Is Important

However, unlike a play, it’s also important to work out how you’ll respectfully interrupt each other. You don’t want to step on someone’s verbal toes. Because Deb and I knew we’d want to spontaneously jump in at times, we made up some signals. When we wanted to add something that was unplanned, for example, we would take a few steps closer to each other and make eye contact. We also had other signals worked out, like a upward palm, which meant “I can help if you need it” and a a not-so-subtle tapping of the wrist, to indicate that we needed to move on. (Both her and I have a tendency to over-communicate! What a surprise, right?) 

How to Correct Your Co-Presenter During the Presentation

It's important to never undermine the credibility of your co-presenters.

This should probably go without saying, but it's also important to never undermine the credibility of your co-presenters. If you disagree with something said, think carefully about how important it is to make a public correction. If it's not critical, then just make a mental note to correct your partner later. If, however, it is a critical error, then of course, it needs to be corrected, but please only make a correction if it is absolutely necessary. And of course, make it as tactfully as possible.

It is always important to remember that in a duet presentation you are both equal (no matter what your job titles say). Also, you’re not competing with your partner, you are supporting them. Your support should include giving your full attention when someone else speaks. Don't look down at your notes or look distracted in any way. If he says something funny, then laugh; in fact, laugh generously. In the same way, if a teammate makes an important point, you can shake you head slightly in agreement.

How to Work Together During the Q&A

Along the same lines, if during question and answer period the audience is favoring one person over another (and again, it’s supposed to be an equal partner presentation), then the favored partner needs to bring the other partner in by redirecting a question to them. “Deb, what you do think about that?”

The opposite also needs to be considered. If, for example, a partner is beginning to flounder, the remaining team members should come to his aide by adding to the response. Again, the idea is to work together as a coordinated team to deliver the best presentation possible.

There is another form of co-presentation that I haven’t discussed that relies on audience members to be your co-presenters, but that’s a topic for another article

With careful preparation and enough practice, co-presenting can be rewarding for both the audience and the presenters themselves.

Thanks again to reader Jill Christ for asking about co-presenting and Jill, please let me know over on the fan page how you and your colleague made out with your team presentation.

This is, Lisa B. Marshall, The Public Speaker. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.


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