Master the Tricks of Teamwork

By Heather Baldwin

If you’ve seen the U.S. Women’s Soccer team play during the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen a display of teamwork that makes winning look effortless. The reality, though, is that winning as a team can be much more challenging than winning an individual competition. It’s true in sports and it’s true in presentations. Not only are you merely as strong as your weakest link, but you need to choreograph passes, learn to play to each others’ strengths and present yourselves as a unit rather than a collection of individuals.

To develop these skills, teams require lots of preparation but it’s a different kind of preparation than for individual presentations, says Marjorie Brody, founder of Brody Communications Ltd. in Jenkintown, PA. For starters, while team members need to practice their individual parts, the team as a whole needs to practice together as well. Practice in the same type of room you’ll be using for the presentation, she says. Set up the chairs as they’ll actually be used and practice transitioning from one speaker to the next.

That last point is key. Introductions and transitions, says Brody, are often overlooked but they’re a critical part of the presentation. Done properly, they bind the team together and make the presentation cohesive and smooth. Botched, they can make a group look uncoordinated and unprepared, even if the content of individual presentations is great. Will each speaker introduce the next? Will speakers introduce themselves? Will the leader introduce everyone? These questions need to be answered and practiced ahead of time.

Finally, make sure the presentation moves forward rationally from one presenter to the next. “There needs to be a common thread to all presentations so when one ends the next begins logically, following a similar line of thought as the previous speech,” Brody advises. Remember, you’re not only telling the audience about your company’s solution, you’re showing them how you work together as a team.