How to Present with Another Speaker

 Learn how to co-present the right way with the first in a two-part article.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #088

I still remember my first time. We stayed up all night...

Of course, I'm talking about the first time I delivered a talk with a co-presenter. My colleague Bob Bickerstaff and I stayed up all night preparing and practicing. We were very junior members of an intensive leadership program at General Electric and we were going to be delivering a presentation to a Senior Vice President.

I didn't realize it at the time, but we were taking a big risk because we weren't planning on using the more common tag team approach. We were going for the gold by co-presenting in duet or equal partner style. I'm happy to report the presentation was a big success! In fact, I'm convinced we both advanced in our careers as a result of the success of that presentation. By the way, Bob’s now a Vice President at AT&T.

Should You Deliver A Presentation with a Partner?

Anyway, the best presentations that I've seen are when two people are able to seamlessly deliver in duet style. By having two (or more) presenters, presentations become much more interesting, energetic, and fun to watch. It's definitely a case where one plus one equals three--that is when the presenters are prepared and practiced.

A good duet presentation is like watching professional ballroom dancers-- two people moving together as a very tightly coordinated pair. Together they can deliver a stronger, more emotional, and inspiring performance.

In fact, that’s exactly why last year I started delivering motivational programs with a partner. There is real synergy and power when Marc and I deliver a presentation together (Marc’s my partner at marshallwolfe.com – Of course, I’m Marshall, he’s Wolfe). Audiences, especially younger audiences, seem to love this deeper more interactive style. Plus it’s great for Marc and I because each time we deliver a program together, it strengthens our working relationship.

The Benefits of Presenting with Someone Else

The advantage of a joint presentation is exactly that, you’re not alone! Another person can come to your rescue should you need help. Another person can explain a concept differently or add her own perspective and experience. Another person can closely monitor audience reactions while you are presenting and jump in if necessary.

But before I get too far, I want to take a second to thank reader Jill Christ who inspired this two-part article. Jill asked me if having a second presenter could enhance a presentation and, if so, to give her some quick and dirty tips for co-presenting.

Jill, as I mentioned in my Facebook response, there are quite a few tips that I can share about co-presenting so I’ll need to cover this topic in two parts.

Tip #1 for Presenting with Someone Else: Practice

When presenting as a team, every team member should understand all of the material and possibly even be able to present all of the material.

My overall biggest tip for co-presenting is practice, practice, practice way ahead of time! Don’t wait until the night before like Bob and I did. Anytime you present with another person, you need to plan for at least double--and perhaps even triple--the time it normally takes to prepare and practice a presentation you deliver on your own. When presenting as a team, every team member should at least understand all of the material and possibly even be able to present ALL of the material --and that takes time!

How to Prepare for a Presentation with Someone Else

What typically happens during a multi-person presentation is that different presenters know certain portions of the material best, or the one person who created the presentation knows the flow of the presentation better than the others. However, it’s important that everyone feels completely comfortable with the both the content and the organization when delivering as a team. That means reviewing every slide together and respectfully making changes and revisions until each presenter feels joint ownership of the material. Many teams simply don’t take the time to do this step. Or if they do an extensive review, they end up running out of time to practice delivering jointly.

Tip #2: Remember to Practice Transitions

When there are multiple people, transitions become very important and can’t be overlooked. If you’re delivering a presentation alone and the transitions aren’t strong, it’s usually not obvious or detrimental. However, poor transitions get magnified during team presentations; so you’ll need to pay close attention to them.

Use the Review/Preview Transition

When following a tag team approach—that’s when one presenter follows another—the transition needs to be smooth. I suggest using a review/preview type of transition. That’s when the first speaker summarizes their part and then previews the main ideas the next speaker will present.

Instead what I often hear, is "And Joan is going to talk next." Sometimes it's even worse. Joan doesn't even realize she's next and the speaker says, "Joan, you’re going next, right?"

When using the review/preview transition, the new speaker should assume control of the presentation by very briefly recognizing the previous speaker and then quickly moving onto the new topic. “So, what we learned from Lisa is X, but what about Y?”

Next week I’ll cover how to spice up a tag team presentation when following the PEP model--that’s the Point, Evidence, Point model that I’ve written about before. I’ll also talk about how to make effective transitions when using the duet style or equal partner approach. Finally next week, we’ll talk about defining and maintaining roles. 

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

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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops, visit lisabmarshall.com.

Two Presenters image courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.

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