Greetings from Atlanta! I’m currently in the field, attending Microsoft’s Convergence 2015 and watching all the Ovation Communication Essential Presentation Skills alumni knock it out of the park. Seriously, it is so wonderful to see so many familiar faces not only succeeding but exceeding expectations as they present. It’s also so very rewarding to see the Microsoft colleagues that we’ve trained, and to prepare them for greatness in their presentations.
A common presentation format here at Convergence is co-presenting; usually it’s groups of two, but sometimes a third person is thrown into the mix. Co-presenting offers it’s own unique challenges, but can be a very interesting dynamic as well.
Here are some important presentation skills training tips to consider when co-presenting:
1. Timing/Content Allocation: If you’re doing the introduction, is your partner doing the conclusion? Are you doing both? What’s the timing on your portion of the slide deck? Are you and your partner sharing the presentation load equitably? These are some important questions you should be asking yourself as you prepare. Often co-presenters work not only in different offices but even different cities or countries. Working out these details as your content takes shape will save you valuable time when you’re finally able to rehearse together in person.
2. Transitions: Are you switching from one piece of tech to the next? Giving a demo? How will you execute this? For example, I helped a duo prepare that was playing a short video in their presentation. The idea was to switch the feed to a laptop, with one presenter running the video while the other narrated. This was an efficient use of presentation time and stage space, giving each presenter a role and function. Take some time to work out transition moments with your co-presenter, and your presentation will be smoother for it.
3. Blocking/Movement: This topic is closely related to transitions within a presentation. Often in a co-presentation, one presenter begins and "hands the baton" to the other at some point. How will this look? Which way will the new presenter enter? Will the first presenter remain on stage, or leave to sit in the audience? Do each of you have your own remote? If not, how will the hand-off work? It’s important to rehearse these movements so you don’t end up in an awkward “dance” on-stage, shuffling and bumping in to one another.
4. Audience Focus: Sometimes, the program or feature we’re presenting to our audience is so second nature to us, we forget that it may be the first time our audience is seeing it. Remind yourself to go a bit more slowly and to narrate your actions to your audience. Yes, the vast majority may know how to launch the application or log-on to the platform, but it bears repeating and demonstrating for those who are unfamiliar.
Co-presenting is a great format in which the audience gets two for the price of one, and more is better, right? If well-executed, it certainly can be. The next time you find yourself co-presenting, take into consideration some of the important points listed above. Allow the answers to shape and influence your content and delivery, and you may find that indeed, you offer your audience more bang for their buck.
Do you co-present often, or are you usually flying solo? How do you prepare? Let us know in the comments!
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