The Team Approach to a High-Impact Presentation
While meeting with a new client last week, one of the partners took me aside and confided that his company had just lost a potential new piece of business. What had gone wrong? The prospect said their pitch wasn’t “buttoned up” enough — the kiss of death for any sales presentation.
My client quickly realized that his prospect’s feedback was accurate. Countless hours had been spent on the pitch content, but they hadn’t taken even five minutes to coordinate and build real teamwork among the presenters.
The bottom line? When presenting as a team, think like a team.
Team dynamics create a dynamic team
Team presentations can be a terrific opportunity — the whole is often much greater than its individual parts — or they can be a vexing challenge.
If you’ve ever been part of a . . .
- Pitch team chasing the next big piece of business
- Panel presenting at a meeting or conference
- Research team sharing findings or recommendations
. . . then you know presenting as a team is very different than presenting solo. For one thing, there’s a lot more to think about, such as:
- Each team member’s specific role
- Continuity of the content
- Dynamics of the presentation
- Approach (or “tone”) of individual components
You also have to plan out the interactions between team members throughout the presentation.
It takes coordination, cooperation, and attention to detail. When it’s done right, the results speak for themselves. If you’d rather not wait until you lose your next big pitch, here are a few keys to a winning team presentation.
Coordinate content and visuals
First, decide in advance who is delivering each section. Then, make sure each speaker knows his or her part. You don’t want any weak links in the chain. Maximizing the expertise of each speaker and having clarity about team member roles and responsibilities are great ways to you are “buttoned up”.
Handoffs and rehearsals
Decide in advance who will open, who will close and — especially important — how you’ll transition from one speaker to the next. A strong open and close and smooth transitions speak volumes to your audience and differentiate you from your competition. Figuring it out on the fly also says a lot — not in a good way. Take the time to rehearse until your pitch runs like clockwork. Ask colleagues to sit in and find any flaws in your content or approach.
Look and act like a team
Remember, during any presentation, the whole team is always “on.” Resist grimacing or interrupting if a teammate says something incorrect. Team members should all look engaged, supportive and affirming from beginning to end.
Every great presentation team has someone who gathers the troops, coordinates the content, manages the flow and schedules the rehearsals. If these essentials aren’t happening, remember — every great team needs a leader. You may have to step up and get things going, even if you’re not the senior member of the team.
That’s called leadership.