5 essentials for delivering a sharp team presentation

Getting every contributor on board is crucial, of course. Then the fun starts: brainstorming, assigning roles and harmonizing your visuals. There’s a lot to do, but the result is worth it.

A great team presentation gets its strength from the sum of its parts and how they fit into one unifying theme.

That’s true whether you’re pitching an ad campaign or hoping to raise startup funds.

Work as a group to follow the steps below, so all team members know their roles and how they connect, translating into a smooth and seamless presentation:

1. Establish your key message.

Ask: What is the brightest takeaway you’d like your audience to remember?

We call this your audience-focused bright shiny object (ABSO). Your ABSO aligns your key point with your audience’s greatest concerns and needs. 

Here’s an example: Your company provides technological and energy expertise to municipalities developing environmental initiatives. 

  • Your key thought: “You should hire us because we have not only scientific expertise, but years of experience in translating that to real-life applications that save money and protect the environment.”
  • The town’s objective: “We need a program that follows proven scientific principles and incorporates economic best practices. We also need to hit our goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% in the next five years.”
  • Your ABSO: “We have a team of scientists, researchers, former municipal leaders, and economists who are as versed in the research as they are in the real-life applications that translate into compliance and economic savings.”

Those nearly three dozen words could be swapped out for just two—“Hire us!”— but that pitch won’t go anywhere if you don’t answer the question the audience is asking: “Why should we hire you?”

2. Assign roles.

If you own a car, how much do you think about the sparkplugs? Probably not often—until the engine sputters. Faulty or worn, perhaps? There’s no spark to get that engine going.

Now think about how you build your team presentation. Every presenter has an important role—no matter the size. You want your presentation to hum along, with nary a stall in sight. Every presenter needs a clear understanding of their role and how they fit into the unified whole.

Here is how you build the engine:

  • Determine the number of speakers. There is no magic number, but consider the impact on the audience. Cramming a dozen speakers into an hour might make it difficult for the speakers to build rapport with the audience and may strain your audience’s ability to consume and consider the information you present.
  • Create the content. What points and supporting evidence will each person cover, and what is each segment trying to achieve in connection to your ABSO? Answering those questions will reduce repetition.
  • Mind the micro and macro. Each speaker should have a “mini” presentation conforming to the usual speech formula—opening, main points with supporting detail, and closing. Speakers should vary their delivery, one to another. Perhaps one team member uses PowerPoint, and another passes out a handout. 
  • Establish the lead. The person opening the presentation should begin with a compelling statement that rouses the audience, establishes the session’s relevance and purpose, and reflects the ABSO. Determine whether the opener will serve as emcee and introduce each speaker, or whether you’ll use a relay format from one speaker to the next.

3. Focus on visuals.

Visual aids can help your audience remember your key message and main points. In a team presentation, your approach must be cohesive. If every slide presentation follows a different template and offers a different style, the audience will be distracted. Worse, they might conclude that the work you’d deliver would be as disjointed as the presentation itself.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Each speaker should work off the same template.
  • One person should be assigned to edit the final deck.
  • Ensure there is continuity of colors, fonts, point sizes and the overall look.

4. Practice, practice, practice.

Schedule several run-throughs. If the team is not under one roof, consider conference or video calls. Early rehearsals reduce the risk that befalls many talented firms—the practice run comes too late in the process. By the time the gaps and other issues are revealed, there’s no time to make the fundamental changes needed—only last-minute fixes that are less than ideal.

Here’s how to run an efficient practice session:

  • Listen for the unified theme in every “mini” presentation.
  • Eliminate repetition. You can do this by ensuring the point is in the proper segment.
  • Ditch the drag. As you time each person’s talk, pay attention to pacing.
  • After each rehearsal, go back and tinker. Consequently, that may mean you add more compelling material or chop irrelevant statistics. If this is an organic part of the creative process, your flow will be  seamless and effective when the presentation goes live.

5. Conduct final checks.

Well before you arrive in that conference room to pitch your services, register a sale or secure funds, make sure you’ve addressed staging. 

How are you going to position yourselves? When it’s not your turn to present, how will you stay engaged? How are you transitioning from one segment to another?

Here are some things to consider before the presentation:

  • Is the team standing or sitting during the talk?
  • Is the team on stage? Are the presenters sitting in the audience or around the conference table?
  • Are speakers expected to step forward to speak?

Christina Hennessy is chief content officer for Throughline Group. This post originally appeared on the Throughline Blog.

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