Smooth Transitions: Team Presentations
(Give a Seamless Performance When You Train As A Team)
© Sylvia Henderson Published in ASTD’s “Performance in Practice” newsletter (Fall 2001 issue.)
Two’s a pair. Three’s company. Four’s a crowd.
This adage sometimes seems true when we train with a partner or team of trainers.
Picture the following scenarios:
- Your partner continues talking, oblivious to timing and your turn.
- Three of you look at each other in awkward silence as you determine who goes next.
- Four of you confuse participants by doing different things simultaneously trying to help each other.
- One of you fumbles with the easel pad and marker recording participant responses while the others huddle in back of the room whispering.
- You abruptly end your topic with “And now, [Insert Name] will present the next topic.”
- One of your team trainers interrupts with additional information while you are presenting (or worse yet, contradicts something you just said).
Do any of these situations sound familiar?
The following techniques help multiple presenters give a performance that appears seamless and cooperative.
Two or more presenters should plan ahead to stage the session with each other. Assume for the moment that each presenter knows the subject matter she or he will deliver. These techniques address topic transitions and working together as a team to complement each other.
We typically present our content by referring to note cards, outlines, key words on slides, TelePrompTers, and other tools that prompt us to what we plan to say or do. One thing to script, however, is the transition statement from one topic to the next, especially when it involves a different presenter. Script each transition so the “from” presenter knows exactly how to introduce the “to” presenter and topic. The “to” presenter needs a transition statement to receive the platform so the two topics merge seamlessly. You won’t actually read the scripts but writing them down forces each of you to plan the flow from one to the next.
Positioning sends subtle messages. The active presenter (primary presenter at the time) should be front and center as the person to whom the participants should be paying attention. Other trainers are secondary until their turn to be primary. If everyone is in front of the room at the same time, secondary presenters sit or stand back from the primary. This tells the audience that the primary is the authority for moment and the focus of attention. Secondary presenters should not fidget or give nonverbal signals (through body language) to communicate disagreement or otherwise invalidate what the primary says or does. When possible, only the primary is in front. Secondaries position themselves at the sides or back of the room until needed or it is their turn as primaries.
Multiple trainers offer multiple perspectives with multiple training styles. Each presenter has strengths he or she brings into the situation. One is better at projecting her voice. Another is more proficient at coordinating multimedia tools. A third is a neat writer at the easel or white board. One has more skill creating exciting materials. Another is a great editor for proofing handouts. Use each other’s strengths. Set aside egos and as a team decide who takes which responsibilities so that the complete product is superior. Though each trainer may present material at some point, one may have more platform time while another works with supporting visuals or records responses. One might prepare handout materials while another develops the PowerPoint presentation everyone will use. Everyone wins and participants get a quality session.
Support [Each Other]
A positive aspect of team training is the support trainers give each other. Before the session begins, coordinate helping the active trainer record participant responses, hand out materials, run the computer presentation, contribute additional comments, signal timing, and handle conflicting perspectives or incorrect information. Decide when additional comments are acceptable. Agree to discuss conflicts off-stage to present a unified front to participants. Synchronize audio and video support for the active trainer.
Share recording and handout functions based on who is engaged with the audience and who can help.
Topics and content are pieces of the complete training session. When more than one presenter is involved, logistics, staging, responsibilities, and interpersonal relations are also factors. Plan with these in mind, and your training session will appear seamless and smooth to your participants.