10 Ways to Ace Your Team Presentations to Prospective Clients

Team presentations can be an opportunity to impress prospective clients, but they can also present some challenges. Find out how your team can avoid them.
President and Founder, Clarion Enterprises Ltd.
November 10, 2017

Team presentations can be a great approach to winning new business. Done right, they can help boost your credibility and showcase your company's strength.

These 10 tips can help guide you as you prepare—and deliver—an outstanding team presentation.

1. Be clear about your objective with your team.

The first task is to ensure that every team member understands the end goal of the presentation. Crystal-clear communication with the team helps in preparing the message you want to deliver. Preparatory discussions with the team can help ensure that everyone's arrows are pointed in the same direction.

Team presentations can be more effective when the entire team speaks in one voice. This can help avoid anyone saying something that's not in line with your strategic objective.

2. Be judicious in selecting who will participate in team presentations.

You may have seven or eight team members who will work on a potential client's project, but that doesn't mean that all of those employees need to present.

For one thing, having too many speakers can be an unnecessary distraction. You can play to your team's strengths by selecting those who have the most technical expertise on the topic and are the best presenters. The others don't have to be left out. They can do the background work and still be mentioned as part of the team who will work on the project.

3. Skip the introductions and jump right into the presentation.

Having each member introduce themselves at the beginning of team presentations can waste too much time. Instead, consider having the strongest team member briefly introduce everyone. Then they can kick off the presentation by grabbing the audience's attention and jumping right into the topic of the presentation. For a polished "book-end" feeling, the same team member can deliver the concluding statements.

4. Act as a team.

In team presentations, every member is "on" even when he or she is waiting for their turn to speak. This means that you should pay attention to your body language when you're not speaking. You may unwittingly look tired or distant because you've heard your team members' part many times during the rehearsal. You can guard against this by looking at the team member who is speaking, and once in a while at the audience.

If an unexpected question pops up and it's not clear who should answer it, decide in advance how you will handle this. 

Also, try to be interested and involved in what other team members are saying. For example, don't review your own notes while the other person is talking, or whisper an aside to a colleague next to you. Be fully present and supportive. The combined energy of the team can be an important part in delivering dynamic team presentations.

If you're the leader, be mindful not to unintentionally undermine your team. For example, don't interrupt team members or talk over them. If you're introducing the next topic, don't steal your team members' thunder with a detailed prelude or rundown. Shine the light on them.

5. Make sure your presentation material is consistent.

When it comes to your presentation visuals, consistency is an important design principle. If several people have contributed slides for their part of the presentation, you may end up with an assortment of slides that lack a professional touch. You may want to assign someone to ensure consistency throughout the slides. Then you can do a final team rehearsal with the edited slide deck.

6. Choreograph your team presentations.

Team presentations are like a dance. When done well, every step evolves smoothly and everyone is at ease and moving together.

You can do the same for your team presentations by planning everything ahead. No detail is too small. Consider the room's layout, if you can, and plan where every team member will be positioned.

If you're using a mic, it may make sense to stand in a row on the same side of the screen, by order of who will present. This can help eliminate the need to cross the room to hand over the mic to the next speaker if that person is standing on the opposite side of the screen. Practice a smooth handover over of the mic to the next speaker. It's easy, in the heat of the moment, for the next speaker to start speaking on cue before they've picked up the mic. It helps to rehearse all of this.

7. Rehearse the transitions in your presentation.

As part of the preparations for team presentations, rehearse the transition phrases each person will say. (For example, "Janet will now walk us through the support we offer our clients.")

You can make transitions feel smooth and seamless by having the next speaker briefly acknowledge the prior speaker. For example: "As you can see, we support your business through a variety of service channels. This takes us to our next topic, the various service tools we offer." 

Try to vary the transition phrases so they don't appear mechanical and tedious.

8. Set the rules for the Q&A.

Decide in advance who's best suited to answer which question. Have everyone practice the answers with the same diligence you practice the content. If you're the leader, you can also field all the questions and assign them on the go.

If an unexpected question pops up and it's not clear who should answer it, decide in advance how you will handle this. For example, the team leader can look around the team and say: "Bob, would you like to take this one?" Or you can decide that the team leader will always answer the unexpected question, and defer to the team by adding, for example, "Does anyone want to add anything else?"

How you handle the unexpected may be a make-or-break moment in team presentations. Addressing this in advance can help you be fluid and not be taken off guard. Flexibility is a sign of executive composure and this can reflect well on the team's ability to work well on the client's project.

9. Prepare for the unexpected.

One of the most stressful things that can happen is when one of the experts in the team presentation is unavoidably unable to attend at the last minute. This doesn't have to be a show stopper if you've prepared for this ahead of time. Consider asking other team members to familiarize themselves with talking points for areas other than their own. This way the most logical next person can step in, if needed.

10. Be mindful of team spirit.

Team presentations can be a cauldron of emotions. The stakes are high and everyone naturally wants to look good in front of the client and for the team. Chances are everyone may have spent a great deal of time preparing, so it's normal to feel anxious or somewhat stressed.

It's important to be mindful of this and to be well rested before the presentation. Equally important is deciding in advance what not to do. For example, don't correct a colleague in front of the audience. If it's critical to the topic, consider how you can diplomatically handle the situation. You can say: "To add to Jim's explanation..." Avoid disagreeing with a colleague either. Try to sort out any disagreements in the team before the presentation.

Bottom line: Try to be of one mind when you deliver team presentations.

Read more articles on presenting.

Photo: Getty Images
President and Founder, Clarion Enterprises Ltd.