(Managing multi-speaker presentations)
If you win this work, it will be a game-changer!
It’s a huge account, and you’ve made it to the final round of selection. All you need to do is ace the presentation to land this life-changing client. Because of the job’s size and scope, the presentation requires contributions from a large and diverse number of people from different divisions of your project team. Everything is riding on your team’s presentation.
If handled well, multi-speaker presentations are beneficial for you and your audience; but if unplanned and disorganized, multi-speaker presentations can easily appear disjointed, repetitive, and fragmented. Without purposeful and thoughtful preparation and practice, team presentations won’t follow a unifying narrative thread, and members of the presentation team can be caught anxiously looking at one another uncertain of what happens next.
To ensure that your teams maximize their opportunities in front of clients, here are our top four tips for multi-speaker presentations.
1. Designate a leader
Just like the Navy’s Blue Angels has a #1 plane to lead and direct the formations, all presentations need a point person.
What exactly does this person do?
In the lead-up to the presentation, the point person establishes the storyline, coordinates the contributions from all the participants, and assembles the final deck in a common format (adhering, of course, to the 12/24 Rule).
During the presentation, (s)he provides the introduction and roadmap, coordinates the contributions of the other team members, and then delivers the conclusion, takeaways, and next steps.
2. Define areas of expertise
Each speaker in the room needs a clearly-defined role and area of expertise, and they need to know the roles and content areas of the other speakers, as well. Not only does this divvy up the formal content, but it also defines which speaker takes the lead on specific client questions.
Few things are worse in a multi-speaker presentation than speakers who repeat the material of another speaker, or when the audience asks a question and a mental round of “hot potato” ensues when the speakers hesitantly look at one another trying to decide who will answer. Avoid both of these pitfalls by clearly defining the roles of each speaker.
3. Establish a preparatory timeline
Major benchmarks for a multi-speaker presentation include:
Identifying the presentation team
Collecting content from each contributor
Assembling a draft deck
Dry run with Q&A
Finalize the content and deck
Dry run with Q&A
WIN THE WORK and IMPRESS CLIENTS
4. Practice with everyone in the room (or at least on video conference)
Game plans on paper are an important first step, but without practice, the best laid plans can fall flat. Block sufficient uninterrupted time on all participants’ calendars for the complete presentation plus discussion, feedback, and modifications.
When gathered together, don’t just talk about the presentation, pretend the client is in the room and actually present it.
Once your team delivers your takeaways and next steps, you’re not done. Also simulate the Q&A component by having co-workers ask questions. Include easy, hard, foreseeable and out-of-the-blue questions, and assess how your team answers them. Your team should be decisive in its response, including who answers the question and what is said. Answering questions is inherently more personal than delivering a prepared presentation, so practice will help your team create a strong connection with the client when answering their questions. Techniques to consider include, acknowledging the questioner, validating the importance of the question, making eye contact, and talking to the questioner and not at them.
Ultimately, multi-speaker presentations afford you a great opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of your team’s expertise. Be sure to capitalize on those occasions with planning, preparation, and practice.
Now use our advice and go win the game-changing client in your world!