Planning is key
by Lenny Laskowski
A common pattern of team presentations is that most changes occur during the later stages of preparation, usually after the visual aids have been made and during dry runs. Many people often wait until the last minute to have a dry run (if they have one at all). To make matters worse, the dry run is usually held the day before the "big" presentation. This leaves NO TIME to make any changes. This not only leaves little time for changes but can be very costly.
Greater attention should be made to the earlier stages of preparation. This will reduce the pain and expense during the later stages.
Keys to a Successful Team Presentation
Team Presentations usually are involved when the stakes are high. Below are some general keys to a successful team presentation.
1. Recognition my top management & team leadership of the importance of the presentation and the effort required. - last minute or poorly budgeted support will cost more in the long run.
2. Early direction and frequent review by the leadership - too often the troops are left floundering in the wrong direction or in several directions. Weak or absent leadership generally guarantees poor team spirit, massive last-minute changes and very shaky presentations.
3. Recognition of the Team by Everyone - in sports or in business, team efforts generally come through best. Each member should understand that his or her contribution is essential and that one bad apple can ruin the presentation.
4. Treatment of Content that acknowledges the audience is probably a team also - team presentations often draw audiences that are more diverse in both level and discipline. Knowledge, interests and mental stamina of listeners need careful consideration.
5. Careful Attention to Operational Details - There is plenty that can go wrong in a single presentation. Add in several players & segments and the potential problems are compounded.
6. Get to Know Each Other and What They are Presenting - Team cohesion relies much on group dynamics. Team members are often pulled together for a project and may be barely acquainted. Getting that vital team flavor may take some working or socializing together.
Steps for Planning
1. Get Management on Board Early - presentations should reflect the knowledge and commitment of the organizations key people.
2. Identify Audience Requirements - obtain specific directions for you audience as to their specific needs for the presentation. Ask them before you begin preparing.
3. Develop a Team Theme - A crucial and often far too commonly absent part of planning is defining the team focus or message. This must come from the top and must be understood by all participants. Failure to establish this will result in individuals heading in several directions.
Contained within the overall theme is any information regarded as the presentation "party line". Every piece of the presentation should tie into and add to the credibility of the overall theme.
4. Set Team Members and Topics - This is a first-cut organization, which will be refined as the presentation develops. Certain people are often requested by the customer. Are those people available? Each members strengths and weaknesses must be understood.
5. Commit Resources - recognize this is not going to get done without the support staff and the proper budget of time and money. Besides speakers, what other people will be needed to get the job done?
- Graphics experts - Reviewers - Equipment experts - Printers - Arrange for the necessary visual aids
6. Layout a realistic Schedule - This is vital to prevent last minute crash efforts too commonly seen. Make sure the common milestones are met.
7. Pick a Presentation Development Coordinator - somebody with the right coordinating skills to provide proper direction is critical.
How to Get Organized
1. Refine the Presentation Structure - theme, segments, roles of top management, speaking order and even breaks.
2. Allocate Times for Each Speaker - assign a target time for each section. Consider audience involvement and allow enough time for Q&A. Time each segment during dry runs.
3. Develop Outlines - clearly identify key points for each section. Then develop complete outlines.
4. Focus on Organizational Clarity - because of the likely mixed nature of the audience and multiple presentation topics, strive for clarity, simplicity & consistency. Tie each segment to an overall theme by using a moving agenda.
5. Design in Variety - Consider the audience perspective. They'll be sitting through five or six presenters over the next several hours; therefore, weave in some change of pace.
6. Develop Story Boards - This is a valuable step in the development sequence. Storyboards provide oral and visual overviews for each segment and gives a quick sense how each presenter will fit in.
7. Get Management Review & Redirection - this is a key time for management to give its input again. Changes beyond this point become more costly and difficult as artwork and time is shortened.
Lenny Laskowski is a professional speaker and is President of LJL Seminars.
He can be reached at:LJL Seminars (tm) 106 Schoolhouse Road Newington, CT. 06111-4002 EMAIL: President@LJLSeminars.com WEB: http://www.ljlseminars.com
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Page last updated 1/23/98