There are many jobs and specializations where the success of a team is partly dependent on the quality of their presentation. A part of the evaluation or assessment is influenced by how the presentation was made. An effective team will have to be good at presenting its ideas effectively in addition to formulating good strategies or solutions. It is important that the team’s recommendations are put across clearly no matter what kind of presentation they are taking part in. The success of a presentation hinges on how the audience perceives or recieves the presentation. Therefore a team should place as much importance on the quality of their presentations as they do on the quality of their other team functions.
Let’s consider an analogy here to understand this further:
John is a young athlete who is crazy about bikes. He lives and breathes bikes and owns many high-end contemporary models. He decided to extend his passion for bikes to his cell phone ring tone. He got himself a ring-back tone based on a recording of several high-powered bikes zooming past. Those who called him unfortunately did not get the intended effect. To them it sounded more like the buzzing of a lot of mosquitoes in their ears! After he received this feedback from friends, John still wanted to stick to the theme of bikes, so he changed the ring-back tone to that of a stationary bike revving up. The feedback from his friends was that it sounded like a mooing cow!
(A ring-back tone is the ringing sound that you hear when you dial a number. This tone can be customised by the cell phone owner)
Well, jokes apart, the significance of this story is simple: What the audience takes out from a presentation can have a significant bearing on the success or failure of the team, regardless of the presenter’s good intentions. It is therefore important to do dry runs and get the input from other team members before a presentation can be considered fully ready for a client.
The perceptions of the audience hinges on one or more of the following issues:
- Proper comprehension of the proposals
- Proper understanding of research findings, analysis and conclusions
- Grasp of the intellectual strength in the strategies
- Insights into the core business benefits inherent in the suggestions
- Originality and creativity in innovative approaches
- Credibility of the information and the feeling that the presenter knows his or her facts
The key to presenting anything involves being able to explain clearly, in simplified terms and highlighting relevant points that make a difference to business decisions. The manner in which the recommendations are presented can make or break a presentation. The professional standing of a team with a client or customer can be amplified if the team makes a good presentation and conversely get diminished if the team makes a bad presentation.
The presentation is the contact point or interface where all the work and effort put in by the team is finally on display. An effective team has to give the presentation due importance. The days and weeks that the team spent on strategizing and brainstorming will go to waste if the team is unable to put across its proposals in a convincing manner. The team therefore needs to pay close attention to their presentation skills. The person who front’s the team has to be carefully selected as someone who is confident and is able to clearly express the collective thoughts and ideas of the team.
Broadly a good presentation should have the following features:
- The presenter has to explain clearly
- The presenter has to be confident
- The presenter has to inspire and grab attention; boredom can set in otherwise and the audience will get fidgety
- The presenter has to convince the audience
- The presenter should be able to clarify doubts and concerns
- The presenter has to ensure complete comprehension. A tried and tested method is to first tell the audience what you are going to present to them by giving them an overview, then you can make your presentation and then finally recap everything you’ve just presented. That way you leave no room for ambiguity.
- Proper presentation aids have to be employed, go high tech if possible. The world today is all about high-tech solutions and multi-media. Using animation, audio, video footage and graphics, is more the norm rather than the exception
So the question is: “Does a team presentation depend solely on the one individual chosen to present it or is it a group activity?” Though a presentation may have one presenter from the team, the team has a few joint responsibilities:
- They have to anticipate the likely questions and decide in advance which team member will respond to each question. Everybody has to be alert and ready to offer answers to questions the presenter is unable to tackle
- Be clued up and fully informed; everybody on the team has to make it his or her business to totally understand what is being presented
- Carry documentation and relevant support reports to the presentation
- Be supportive and present a united front. There is nothing more disturbing for a client than a team that has disagreements and starts arguing with one another at the presentation.
Every team member has to be prepared for the presentation and willing to contribute to the discussion that is likely to unfold at the end. Here’s an interesting case where a poor presentation and poor preparation landed a team in a mess:
On one of the episodes of the TV show The Apprentice, (in Donald Trump’s USA version), the task involved designing youth garments with built in innovative ways to carry along high tech items like MP3 Players, Mobile phones and other gadgets. The task was for a new clothing line for a lifestyle retailer called American Eagle Outfitters. During the show one of the contestants, Tana, gave an impromptu interview (just talking and expressing her views to the camera as they usually do during the course of working on a task). In her opinion, the actual presentation to the client would contribute around 30% to the success of the team on that task. Read on to find out what actually happened…. (You will be surprised to find that she may have actually been right!):
Tana’s team did a great job on the task. They made the attempt to speak to youngsters and find out what their favourite high tech gadget was. They then designed the garments accordingly. At the presentation they were confident, and were able to answer questions asked by the company regarding the target audience preferences and more importantly they were able to sell their ideas. American Eagle representatives were all smiles at the end of the presentation which is always a positive indication!
But their rival team did not fare as well. They did not speak to potential customers and did not have their facts right, they turned up late for the meeting, forgot to bring one of the garments that they had designed and the final mistake was a poor presentation. The person who they chose as their presenter floundered and made an uninspiring presentation. She seemed to be out-of-sorts and froze up. They lost that task and the winning team (Tana’s team) walked away with a great prize. The contestant who was fired in that episode was the one who made the ineffective presentation.
To sum up, the team member who is chosen to front the team at a meeting has to have good presentation skills but this has to be blended with a high level of preparedness of all the team members including the key presenter. This applies to strategy presentations, sales meetings, business proposals or any kind of business presentation. A good presentation is more likely to impress a client and help a team walk away with a big piece of their business! If you want the thrill of team success, then the actual presentation needs careful planning and execution.