22April 2024

Public Speaking Tips for Team Presentations

10 tips for presenting as part of a team

When you present at work as part of a team, do you sound like a team?
When you hand over to your colleague, do they look surprised or confused and do they repeat a lot of what you have just said?
Or even worse – do they end up contradicting what you have said?
The Association of Speakers Clubs used to run team speaking events and organisations like the Rotary Club will also have a team format, because they appreciate how important it is to come across well as a team and how dangerous it is when 3 colleagues come across as 3 strangers

The biggest danger for a team of presenters - and you will sometimes see this when a company is involved in a tendering presentation – is that the presentation does not feel joined up, or worse - the individual presenters sound like they are strangers to each other, lacking a common purpose.
And as a listener, if this is your first exposure to the company, very quickly you start to wonder whether the organisation is just as confused and inefficient in every other area of their business as well.
If they do not even seem together for the presentation, what does that imply about communication and teamwork throughout the organisation?
Therefore, anytime you are not presenting on your own you must do the groundwork necessary to make sure that you sound like you are singing off the same page as your colleagues.
This could be a full-scale integrated presentation with contributions from different departments in the chain, or simply two colleagues together with one person handing over to another.
The strength of a chair has less to do with the wood it is made from and more to do with how well the parts have been joined together.  So make sure you spend extra attention on ‘the joints’, as this is where you will make the strongest impression.

10 tips for presenting as part of a team

  1. Plan together

This can be as simple as briefly meeting to decide who is taking which part of the presentation.
In a company, this might be fairly straightforward as each person will take on the section that relates to their part of the business.
If the presentation is less defined, then each person can quickly decide what particular angle they intend to take on the subject, thus making sure that there is no duplication – or worse – not contradictions.
However, it could be desirable not just to have contradictions but to decide that different members of the team take clear and opposing views, but this needs to be an expression of a deliberate strategy, rather than poor planning. 
Nevertheless, it should be the aim of a presentation to lead the audience to a specific conclusion, and so you might decide in the end to allow one point of view to assert itself in the conclusion.
Another approach could be to allow each team member to compose their thoughts on the subject and then come together to iron out any potential inconsistencies or contradictions.

  1. Allow the natural structure to reveal itself

Rather than forcing the presentation into an artificial structure, you will probably find that the subject lends itself naturally to a simple format.
If you are promoting your company’s service, you might find that a simple chronological structure is the simplest to use and easiest to follow.  First sales comes in to explain the concept, then technical to map out how the service will be delivered, then support to explain the continuing back-up and then finally the Managing Director to sum up.
Another chronological format might be along the lines of:
(i)            this is how it used to be
(ii)           this is what happens now
(ii)           this is what we are recommending for the future
We could break up the presentation journey into the steps from ‘general’ to ‘specific’ and allocate different parts of the journey to individual members of the team
(I)           an overview of the current state of the marketplace
(ii)           what we do as a company
(iii)          how this will affect you.
And similarly, we could move from ‘theoretical’ to ‘practical’ or ‘principle’ to ‘practice’.

In each case, we have a wide flexible framework to start with, which can allow a little freedom and creativity to each speaker.

  1. What is your purpose?

If you arrange to meet some friends in the centre of town, it is probably a good idea to agree on a meeting place.  That way each person can choose their own route and departure, and everyone arrives at the same destination on time.
A common mistake in team presentations is to focus too much on the content of the presentations and not enough on an agreeing a common point of arrival.
I remember working in a training organisation where we were told very precisely what Public Speaking activities and exercises we should use on a training day, in order to make sure that everyone was delivering the same content.
However what I discovered was that even though everyone was covering the same material, each trainer seemed to be doing it for different reasons.
To extend the meeting in town analogy – everyone agreed to take the same train and maybe they even agreed to get out at the same station, but they still did not manage to meet because they had not agreed a specific meeting place, as opposed to the group of friends that arranged to meet under the station clock and all met each other even though one walked to the station, another took a bus and the third was dropped off by car.
If the purpose of your presentation is clear, you can give the individual members of the team more flexibility to find their own routes.

  1. Dress

You may want to come across as from the same team, in which case ‘looking’ like you belong together might be appropriate.  On the other hand, wearing the same ‘uniform’ might not seem appropriate if you want to send out a message of individuality.  Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to send a visual message that suggests togetherness.
I went to a choir competition where one choir went out of their way to dress identically, while another choir made a very positive and unified impression by agreeing on dark trousers or skirts with any bright single-coloured top.
I remember speaking as part of a team where we all agreed on dark trousers together with some significant item of clothing in light blue, whether shirt, tie or pullover.
It subtly suggested we belonged together when we stood up, but did not look too regimented.

  1. Sign-posting

A simple way of seeming more joined up is to refer back or forwards to something that a colleague has or will say.  So if speaker One says they have a reference to Martin Luther King in their presentation, speaker Two can refer to it in their part of the presentation:
‘In the same way as Martin Luther King’s observations are relevant to this subject, it is also important to realise…’
You don’t necessarily have to know the other speakers’ presentations in perfect detail, it should simply be enough for one speaker referring to a comment from a previous speech to show that they are all part of the same programme.

  1. Transitions

When does the ball usually get dropped?
….when it is being passed from one player to another.
So let the next speaker know exactly how and when you intend to finish or what words you will use to pass over.
How often have I heard a speaker pass over with:
‘I will now pass over to my colleague Jane Smith to take it further.’
And the first words Jane says are:
‘Hello, my name is Jane Smith.’
(I know I have just been told that)
I remember one speaker deciding to start his section with a ‘funny story’.
Unfortunately one of his colleagues had already told the same story 40 minutes before.
This leads on to…

  1. Look interested

Maybe the second speaker was not in the room when the joke was being told for the first time; maybe he was taking an important phone call or he was polishing his own presentation. 
But if you are speaking together try to look as if you belong together. 
And that can mean more than clothing.
Your audience is hearing the presentation for the first time, so when your colleague makes his regular funny comment that you have heard dozens of times, at least smile as if you are hearing it for the first time.
Look interested.
Show you are listening
Maybe even lead the audience by nodding or agreeing in how you want them to react.
And try not to look like you are thinking about what you intend to say, because that will come across as you not being interested in the overall presentation.

  1. A Team with a leader or a Group of equals?

If there is a leader, it is a good strategy to allow that person to take charge of handovers.
Then the leader acts as host and controls all of the joins.
On the other hand, you may prefer to present as a group of equals, in which case you may need to be sure that each person knows who they are handing over to and how they intend to do it.

  1. Strong openings

Each speaker is presenting their segment and you do not want to break the momentum of the presentation with a stumbling take-over.
Therefore, just as I would recommend at the start of any presentation, it would be beneficial to have planned your very first words.
Indeed make sure your first words are worth listening to.
‘Hello, my name is Jane Smith.’ is less captivating than stating the purpose of your segment or hooking the audience with a reference back to the overall aim of the presentation.

  1. Be alert

Things go wrong.
Just because you agreed on a transition, does not mean it will happen the way you planned it.
If you insist on starting with a funny story and you find the colleague before you has stolen it, be prepared to adapt.
The best presentations have a slightly spontaneous feel about them.  You may choose to ‘plan’ some of that spontaneity, but you should never come across as rigid and inflexible.


Team presenting
Make sure you know what the other participants intend to say
Have a unified purpose
Be part of the team and look interested in what the others are saying.

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Michael's superb training style is underpinned by an incredible depth of knowledge and experience. Like all true experts, he delivers what he knows with ease and simplicity, exampling the skills he is teaching as he does so.

Very informative and great anecdotes which illustrated points and provided visual markers.

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The training was spot on. He really listened to us and customised his responses throughout.

Loved the creation of visual examples through the use of body and how relating the experience really helps demonstrate the message.

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Loads of great analogies and stories - very friendly and helpful.

Very approachable and knowledgeable and good use of examples to simplify the material.

In just one day Michael was able to teach a class of children how to craft their own personal stories and experiences into powerful and engaging speeches that resonate with an adult audience as well as with a younger audience. It is a marvellous way to help them increase self-confidence and in the process - almost without them even realising it - become natural speakers and excellent communicators.

Michael has a style of speaking which draws the audience into his world, captivates them and leaves them with lasting memories of some of the descriptive phrases he has used and the information he has included. He also has the ability to pass the skills he uses in his own speaking on to those he trains.

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• Very great example; how to express yourself, how to be engaging and how to match body language with what is said.