collaborative presentation development

Writing a presentation or speech on your own can be difficult and challenging but it doesn't need to be.  Involving other people can make the task much easier and less daunting along with a host of extra benefits.  Let's take a look at why collaborative presentation development makes sense, and explore various ways to enlist the support of others.   The result will be a much better presentation, speech or talk.   By the end of this article, I hope that you will be  inspired to discover the benefits of a collaborative approach for yourself.

Why use collaborative presentation development?

  • Collaborators  bring a fresh perspective
  • Collaborators challenge assumptions
  • Collaborative presentation development delivers better results
  • Collaboration encourages others to use a collaborative approach 
  • Collaboration plugs critical gaps in your knowledge and skill
  • Collaboration adds an extra level of quality control that can prevent embarrassing mistakes

When should you involve others?

Proof Reading

If people do ask for help, it tends to be late on in the presentation.  The most common form of collaboration, according to the people I work with, is to ask a colleague to check their script or slide deck for typos or grammatical errors.

Rehearsal Feedback
The second most common use of collaboration is at the rehearsal stage. The more important the presentation, the more it make sense to rehearse in front of a live audience.  This could be in a team meeting or over a lunch break.  Although this takes time and a bit of organisation, a live rehearsal pays big dividends for you and the other people in the audience. 

  • You  get the chance to test your presentation in a "safe" environment
  • Your colleagues feel valued because you respect them enough to ask them to give you their feedback
  • Younger staff learn how to give and receive feedback
  • Observing someone,  to give them feedback, helps you learn the small details that make or break a presentation

Involving People Earlier
Where else could you tap into the power of collaboration during the presentation design process? Ask yourself how and who you could involve at each stage.

  • Outcome setting
  • Content brainstorming
  • Audience journey mapping
  • Script polishing
  • Visual aid choice and design
  • Delivery refining

Who could/should you involve?

Your Boss
Don't be scared to ask your boss for help when planning and preparing a presentation. They probably have valuable knowledge, experience and insights from which you could benefit. Remember - asking them for their opinion and insight is not cheating.

Your Colleagues
Your peers can give valuable help in many different ways.  These include content ideas (including metaphors, stories, and case studies), visual aid design input (do you know someone with a flair for design?) or constructive feedback on your delivery.

Your Juniors
Involving junior staff early in the development of a critical presentation brings multiple benefits.  Inexperienced staff can bring a much-needed fresh pair of eyes and challenge assumptions, language, and jargon that you might otherwise overlook. Involving them shows that you value their opinions and demonstrates that collaborative problem solving is a desirable and valued behavior in your organization

External people
Involving external people is a necessity if you work on your own or only have a very small team.  I believe it is also very helpful if your presentation is aimed at an external audience.  Outsiders such as friends, family or a presentation coach like me will be able to spot important issues such as confusing jargon and insider language, that you may not.

A couple of examples

I was inspired to write this article after one of my clients asked me to "sit in" while he delivered a dry run of an important conference presentation.  He wanted objective feedback on how he could improve the content, design and delivery.  Thankfully, he still had two weeks before the "real" event so had plenty of time to consider and implement my feedback.  Afterwards,  he decided that he would arrange a further run-through with myself and some of his colleagues.  I wish more presenters would do something like this.

Ray Adams, a friend,  shared this great example.  "I always get my boss to review my slide deck before any meeting with senior stakeholders to ensure it flows, is accurate, but most importantly that people will get it first time reading it.  I do this because I know that, no matter how many times I've reviewed it, there's a chance that I might miss a slight mistake that could cost me the meeting."

In conclusion

Make your life easier by using collaborative presentation development. Why do it all yourself when you can get a better result by involving others?

P.S. Collaboration is too good an approach to limit to presentation development.   I shared an early version of this article with some trusted colleagues, and they gave me some valuable feedback.  Thanks, Marian Way and Ray Adams.

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