Presenters must remember their content and the transitions between speakers – all while remaining mindful of time constraints. Oftentimes these concerns take priority during rehearsal, but remember: how we say things is as important as what we say. Here are a few tips to help one another polish the mechanics of the team’s delivery.
1. Set the Expectation for Improvement
No one is perfect – especially under stress. The group should agree to provide honest and helpful feedback to one another in order to develop a polished group presentation.
2. The Player/Coach Mentality: Be Open to Coaching/Be Open to Coach
Let the group know you expect to receive personalized presentation feedback, and that you will be providing feedback to others. This is not about “getting personal”: this is about helping the team deliver the message clearly and effectively.
3. Positive Feedback/Positive Reinforcement
When coaching a presenter, start with positive feedback. “I liked your upbeat energy, but I think you were rushing some of your sentences.” Likewise, give positive reinforcement when presenters implement your coaching ideas: keep in mind some of the best coaching we can give is non-verbal positive cues: smiles, head nods, thumbs up, some quiet “nice jobs”, “looks good”, etc.
4. One thing at a time
Help your fellow presenters without overwhelming them. Suggest only one improvement at a time – things within the presenter’s control and, because rehearsal time is precious, only the most important items (for example, someone playing with the keys in their pocket might deserve more focus than if they say the occasional “umm”.)
The most common areas for improving presentation delivery fall into the following categories:
- Location (“center of attention”, easily seen by audience, not in projector light, etc.)
- Never leave the podium/speaking space empty (departing speaker waits for new speaker to take center stage)
- Choreographed transitions (new speaker is not upstaged by departing speaker)
- Stance/Posture (feet planted, shoulder squared)
- Hand gestures (appropriate to content – not random or nervous)
- Facing the audience (as opposed to facing the screen/boards)
- Eye contact
- Facial variety appropriate to content and emotion
- Warm tone (friendly, confident)
- Clarity of speech (E-Nun-See-Ate)
- Minimal vocal pauses (“ummms”, “uhhhs”, “you know”, etc.)
- Appropriate rate of speech (not too fast, not too slow)
- Appropriate volume (project without yelling)
- Vocal variety (voice pitch and rhythm include variety for listener interest)
When coached on a specific improvement area, try to improve it immediately. Ask for feedback. “How’d I do with my pace – was that better?” If you don’t get it perfectly, don’t beat yourself up or draw attention to a mistake, keep going and just try to do it better the next time.
6. Coaching in the Moment
Ideally, you can rehearse multiple times and provide critique notes for each presenter at the end of a run-through. However, when rehearsals are limited to only one or two run-throughs, the team may need to provide feedback on critical issues (“slow down”, “plant your feet”, etc.) during the rehearsal. It’s not ideal, but it is an efficient tactic when time is short.