Multiple Presenters

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Many of your presentations will involve multiple presenters on stage. What’s the best way to manage a group of people presenting? This is one topic that I consider myself to be an expert on and I am very happy to share some tips and tricks with you about how to manage multiple presenters!

1. Play to your strengths
Every team is made up of people with different strengths. Some people are great speakers, others are idea people. The key is to quickly recognize where peoples strengths lie. In a case I participated in last year, one of our members had great presence, but his English was sub par. In fact, if you let him talk for more than a minute, you would lose his train of thought because he didn’t have the vocabulary and grammar skills for you to follow along. Our solution was to have him ask questions to the rest of the presenters during the presentation! This worked well because everyone felt his presence, but because his questions were short, no one had to deal with deciphering his English! In addition people felt like he spoke a lot because he spoke frequently throughout the presentation.

2. Start and finish strong
Typically your strongest presenter should lead off and end the presentation. If there is a second strong presenter make the intro a conversation between the two of them, and let the strongest presenter finish. First impressions are very important, but people remember what they heard last as well. Ever introduced yourself to a group of people before? How often have you been able to remember the last persons name and no one else’s? By using your strong presenters first and last, you leave a good first impression and a memorable “last” impression.

3. The hand off
Too many people think that they should present like it’s a news cast: “And now here’s Jimmy with the weather”. In a live presentation this comes off as amateur. The best presenters work fluidly. A physical hand off is better than a verbal one. Have the old speaker step back, and the new speaker step forward and begin talking. If you want there to be some interaction, have the old speaker ask the new speaker a question to start the next segment.

4. Chunk or Popcorn?
Chunking is when person X speaks for 5 minutes, then person Y speaks for 5 minutes, then person Z speaks for 5 minutes, and so on. What is person X doing while person Y, Z, and Q speak? Probably looking bored ON STAGE. Which, if you haven’t guessed, makes your presentation look amateur and terrible.

Popcorn is when each person talks for no more than 1 or 2 slides. In a 20 minute presentation you’ll have 20-25 slides and 10-15 switches. What this does is make everyone presenting PAY ATTENTION TO THE PRESENTATION. Why? Because they are up soon, and if they are not paying attention they may miss their cue. Having everyone on stage, engaged and listening to the presenter, is very powerful. And sometimes the only way to do that is to make sure they have something to do — like present on the next slide!

Having multiple presenters on stage can be challenging. Especially when you have people of varying presentation skill levels. The best thing to do is to recognize who are your strongest presenters and let them play their role, and at the same time make use of the strengths of the other team members. Above all else make sure that your entire team is engaged and aware on stage!

Remember, presenting is an art form! So make your next presentation into a masterpiece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

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