One of the least-practiced aspects of the group presentation is how you pass the baton – the transition between speakers.
Yet these baton-passing linkages within your presentation are incredibly important.
They connect the conclusion of one segment and the introduction of the next.
Shouldn’t this connecting link be as strong as possible, so that your audience receives the intended message? So the message isn’t lost in a flurry of scurrying presenters moving about the stage in unpracticed, chaotic fashion?
You forfeit tremendous personal competitive advantage if you ignore this seemingly small aspect of your presentation.
Don’t Lose Your Message!
It sounds absurd, but group members often develop their individual presentation segments on their own. Then, the group tries to knit them together on the day of the group show. A formula for disaster.
The result is a bumbling game of musical chairs and hot-baton-passing.
Imagine a sports team that prepared for its games this way, with each player practicing his role individually and the players coming together as a team only on the day of the game and expecting the team to work together seamlessly.
Sports teams don’t practice this way. Serious people don’t practice this way.
Don’t you practice this way.
Don’t yield to the tendency on the part of a team of three or four people to treat the presentation as a game of musical chairs.
Transition Between Speakers
This happens when each member presents a small chunk of material, and the presenters take turns presenting. Lots of turns.
This ungainly dance disconcerts your audience and can upend your show.
Minimize the passing of the baton and transitions, particularly when each person has only three or four minutes to present.
I have also noticed a tendency to rush the transition between speakers.
Often, a presenter will do fine until the transition to the next topic. At that point, before finishing, the speaker turns while continuing to talk, and the last sentence or two of the presentation segment is lost.
The speaker walks away while still citing a point. Perhaps an incredibly important point.
Don’t rush from the stage.
Stay planted in one spot until you finish.
Savor your conclusion, the last sentence of your portion. It should reiterate your Most Important Point.
Introduce your next segment. Then transition. Then pass the baton with authority.
Harmonize your Messages
Your message itself must mesh well with the other segments of your show. Each presenter must harmonize the message with the others of a business presentation. These individual parts should make sense as a whole, just as parts of a story all contribute to the overall message.
“On the same page” . . . “Speaking with one voice” . . . These are the metaphors that urge us to message harmony. This means that one member does not contradict the other when answering questions.
It means telling the same story and contributing crucial parts of that story so that it makes sense.
This is not the forum to demonstrate that team members are independent thinkers or that diversity of opinion is a good thing.
Moreover, everyone should be prepared to deliver a serviceable version of the entire presentation, not just their own part. This is against the chance that one or more of the team can’t present at the appointed time.
Cross-train in at least one other portion of the presentation.
Remember: Harmonize your messages . . . Speak with one voice . . . Pass the baton smoothly. Transition between speakers with authority and confidence.