What Makes a Presenting Team Seem Like a Team?

One of the things that many business people say when they’re interviewing business partners is  “We’re looking for the best team.” 

So the question is this: how can you come across as a great team during a 30-45 minute presentation?

In doing many of these presentations I’ve learned a few things.

1.  It’s not something you can declare.  You can say “we are a team” all you want, but if you don’t present like a team, then you’re not going to seem like a team.  Of course, you should give examples of where you have all worked together in the past. But that is no substitute for presenting like a well-oiled machine.

2.  Be well-rehearsed.   The most import thing is simply to rehearse the presentation carefully so that everyone plays their roll well during the presentation. Good teams deliver presentations that don’t go over the time limit because one of the team members has spoken too long.   That long-winded speaker reveals that the group didn’t practice much together. How can you come across as a good team if you didn’t rehearse?

3.  Each presenter must fulfill an important and distinct role for the client.  On a football team, every player has a role. There is no duplication of purpose.  On a good presenting team, each player must address a different issue that is important to the client.  In construction presentations, often I’ll see two firm principles present because “we want to show the client that we care.”  One firm principle is enough.   The estimator should address the budget. The project manager should address the schedule. The superintendent should address issues of safety and site logistics. 

4.  Everyone should appear to like each other. While it’s  a hard quality to quantify, you want to give off the sense that everyone knows each other well.  During the presentation, everyone should be watching the other presenters carefully. You don’t want to be looking at your shoes or, worse, thumbing your Blackberry. When you hand off to a team member, you should find a nice thing to say about him. “Now I’d like to turn it over to Jack, our superintendent. Jack and I have worked together for 15 years. I call him The Captain because of the way he runs a job site. No one is better.” And smile at your colleague as you do that introduction.

5.  Everyone should speak with passion. When all the team members speak with enthusiasm, they give off a sense of unity of purpose.  If some of the members of the team are excited and others seem bored, there is the sense that some of the team members are committed when others aren’t.

6. No second guessing during Q&A. One of the easiest ways to show that you’re not a team is to second guess your colleague as they answer questions. If someone answers a question, then everyone needs to act like that’s the team answer. No second guessing allowed. Period!  If someone gives out wrong answers and you second guess them, it says a lot that’s bad about your team. First, it says that you didn’t prepare for the questions. Second, it says that you don’t really trust each other.

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