The Group Presentation
The Group Presentation
presentations present tremendous opportunities to create something much
greater than an individual can normally do. It is always easier and quicker
to do things on your own, but most of us will be more effective as part
of a team that combines the knowledge and talents of several people.
Creating the Group Presentation
Presentations vs. Group Presentations
group presentations are different! They involve teams, which is why much
of this site is devoted to team building. The group presentation gives
you opportunities to do much more than a lone presenter can hope to do.
Consider these benefits:
- Variety is built
right into the presentation by virtue of having different people presenting
- One person can
manage audio-visual aids (run the video clip, change the overheads)
while one concentrates on talking
- Greater expertise
tasks (timing, dealing with questions) can be managed better
- When audience
involvement is part of the presentation, the team can mingle and provide
- Different faces,
paces, voices and styles can complement each other
- Role plays and
other creative techniques are more feasible
- This is reality.
Team presentations are very common as teams of experts (engineers, sales
people, financial experts) all present different aspects.
what’s the difference between a team presentation and a group presentation?
With some work by each member, there won’t be any difference. If
the group fails to make itself a team, though, there will be an uneven,
rough presentation that is not integrated.
One of the reasons for the team-building process is to identify the strengths
and weaknesses of each member in the presentation group. In some cases,
groups can be chosen by their members, typically on the basis of friendship.
In many situations, people find themselves part of a group that has a
job to do and they must determine where to fit in.
This is essential
to assemble a great team. Suppose you had to present a complete business
plan, including marketing, finance and human resource issues. It turns
out you have three people who are strong
in marketing, but none with major finance strengths. The person who has
the most strength in finance must fill that gap. For this group presentation,
that is the role they will be asked to play, even though they would fit
more naturally in marketing.
makes it a team presentation! Think of a jazz combo, with many skilled
musicians who can play great solos. However, most of the time they are
playing rhythm to support their colleagues. They are filling a role that
makes the most of the team effort.
with Positions: There are several factors to consider when deciding
who will do what in the presentation:
and weaknesses of individual team members will suggest speaking
order, and who will deal with which content
- Styles and
skills of your team are important to determine who should lead off,
conclude or deliver each section.
- The audience
itself is important; will they be technically-oriented, which suggests
you better have a technical expert?
- The purpose
of the presentation. If it is to persuade, your best salesperson should
have a leading role. If it relies heavily on involvement, a freewheeling
approach works well.
Typically, we want
the quick thinker to handle the questions, the detail person doing the
technical comments and the dynamo for the opening and closing.
When matching people
with different parts of the project, take the time to realistically assess
all these elements. Count on a couple of meetings to build the task list
that will lead to your lineup.
A very common error for those planning group presentations is to have
each member run off to “research an area” and then have a quick
meeting to glue the pieces together. Instead of a group presentation,
you get a series of presentations equal to the number of presenters.
A more effective
strategy starts with thoughtful consideration in your meetings of what
you hope to accomplish in the presentation. A good rule is to think of
the three key things you want the audience to take away from the
talk. These become the core theme and unifying elements within the presentation.
With this general
framework, all research can be funnelled in to key on those three items.
The entire team gets a pretty good idea of what each part will discuss
and duplication is virtually eliminated. Material that does not fit with
the themes gets dropped.
There are many,
many ways to organize, but here are some to get the wheels turning:
- Here is a problem,
here is why it is serious, here’s a solution.
- Here’s how
it was then, how it is now and the implications of these changes. (Can
have several sections which use the same themes or do each one all at
- Three reasons
- Past, present,
- From the general
to the particular (deductive approach), or from the particular to the
general (inductive reasoning).
- The good, the
bad and the judgement; analyze pros, cons and a conclusion
Be a Team:
All team members should dress similarly. The rule is a level above
your audience; it they are in jeans, go for casual slacks. If it suits
the occasion, all might wear corporate or team T-shirts or caps. Never
wear your usual clothes for a group presentation. It is a special occasion
and your attire should show that.
Have a single
presentation style (one PowerPoint show, for instance), rather than
having each person do their own thing. Either have one person do the whole
show, or develop a template which everyone uses. Take the time to ensure
that every slide has the same look and feel and that type sizes, graphics
and writing style are consistent.
are essential for an integrated presentation. Transitions are bridging
elements that conclude one section and start another. Watch your local
newscast for examples. The goal is to “tee up” the next speaker
so we know who they are, what they will talk about and how it ties into
what went before. Some helpful ideas:
- That’s an
overview of the history of this project. Now, we will turn to Maria
for the current situation.
- Those are the
main reasons cited in support of this concept. However, to view things
from the other side, we will hear what opponents have to say. To present
those viewpoints, I will turn things over to Karim.
- With this overview
of the internal issues for the company, we can now examine the external
environment with Sucharita.
Many athletes use the technique of envisioning their performance as a
way of building up their confidence before an event. The race car driver
imagines the car exiting a tricky corner, accelerating and setting up
for the next turn. The skier sees herself swooping through a turn, holding
steady on the icy patch, then biting in on a fast turn.
They know that the
more you practice, both mentally and physically, the more confident you
will feel in the actual situation; it’s as if you had already been
teams, the ideal is to use the room you will actually
present in with a couple of non-presenters on hand for feedback. Videotaping
is highly recommended.
It is important
to use all the things you will actually use in the presentation. Run that
video clip, use the overheads or slides, work with the microphone (if
there is one) and do everything exactly as you hope it will go on the
Team members who
are not presenting should make notes of any problems, such as spelling
errors in slides, clumsy transitions and moments of uncertainty.
Recognize the difference
between spoken and written language. Reading from notes is the most common
criticism students make about others’ presentations. Unless you are
highly skilled as a writer of speeches, your prose will be unsuited for
a speech. Learn to work from the bullets on your slides (best) or very
Recognize that the
timing in your rehearsal may not match what happens in the presentation.
Presenters report that the real thing proved to be either shorter or longer
To deal with this,
know how to “accordion” your section. How can you make it go
longer or shorter to fit the time available? This is especially important
for later sections. You need to know what is essential and what is nice
When the day of the presentation arrives, you will not regret one moment
of preparation and rehearsal. Here’s a helpful checklist:
- If you can access
the room hours before you present, do so to check that all equipment
is present and functional. You can solve many problems with hours to
spare. Know where to find technical help.
- As you are getting
set to present, make sure all systems have been checked. If you are
using a data projector, test it and have a slide showing your
title at least in the moments before your start. If using videotape,
set up the machine so one click is all you need at the right
- Identify where
each person will stand during the presentation so it is easy to
move unobtrusively to and from centre stage. Ensure you will not stand
in the light from the data projector.
- Have one person
managing the visuals while another presents and ensure they are
coordinated. (Where practice pays...)
- At the start
of the presentation, introduce your team and topic. Even if the
audience knows all the presenters, this is still important as a way
of kicking off the presentation. An interesting variation is introducing
your agenda and associating each person with a part of that agenda.
(“Nancy will be discussing the benefits of this proposal.”)
- Tell them what
you are going to tell them. Present a brief agenda to give an overview
and context for the presentation. This also provides a logical transition
to the first person.
- As your teammates
present, give them the same attention you expect from the audience.
It is rude to chat among yourselves or to show disinterest in your own
presentation. Think of the message you are sending your audience as
you observe others in your team presenting.
- Ensure that two
people on the team are closely monitoring your time against expected
length. It is important to end on time and allow opportunities for questions,
while still getting all of your essential points out. Remember the accordion.
- For questions
following the presentation, have all taking part in the same location.
If the entire group will handle questions, all should be centre stage.
If one is designated, he or she alone should be up front.
- Enjoy the moment.
This is the payoff for your hard work.
A random collection of tips on group presentations, based on bits and
pieces picked up from my experience and from others. While I would dearly
love to attribute these, they are from such diffuse and diverse sources
that I could hardly begin to nail them down! Use the resources page for
access to ideas on how others approach these issues.
- Recognize that
a group presentation is a team presentation; take the time to build
- Use such tools
as formal meetings, contracts and plans to set out what the group hopes
- Never have each
person “do one section” unless there is tight coordination
before they go research it, when they present their key findings and
when it is integrated into the overall themes of the presentation.
- Recognize the
difference between a group presentation (talk #1, talk #2, ... last
speaker) and a team presentation (introduction, components, conclusion).
- Rehearse. Videotape
your entire show. Have a friend sit in and observe your trial run. Do
a complete run-through of your entire presentation exactly as you would
hope to do it.
- Provide one another
with candid feedback, particularly ways to improve.
- Maintain an unwavering
commitment to improve your communication and teamwork skills.
- Use resources
like these to get better!
This page was prepared
Nowell, Professor, Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Oakville, Ontario, Canada. It
is intended for the use of all students to assist them in this important
part of their learning. Please send comments on how useful (or otherwise!)
you found this page to David
©2002-05, David Nowell. All Rights Reserved.