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Rewrite: "Relating: Team Presentations"

“The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.” Who said that? Siri, help! “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships, because that is where emotions are most magnified.”—Tony Robbins. Again, Tony Robbins. Say what you will about him, Tony Robbins has definitely made an impact.

His words ring true for anyone who puts top priority on relationships. Not everyone does, but I have yet to hear the argument that relationships don't matter at all. And team relationships, whether on a playing field, a stage, or in business, do impact the quality of our lives.

Giving a Team Presentation is a performance. Your sympathetic nervous system engages, and you may experience “performance anxiety.” Per Bristow (creator of “Perform With Freedom” course) says that as skill improves, performers often experience more, not less, anxiety. Why? Because as the stakes get higher, performers put more pressure on themselves.

This is true of individual presentations, but you deal with those nerves yourself. With a team, everyone’s nerves interact with everyone else’s. Plus the stakes are often higher, such as for an investor road show. And just like a band’s performance, things can be good, bad, or ugly. (The worst kind of ugly: During a 1965 Kinks concert in Cardiff, drummer Mick Avory nearly killed lead guitarist Dave Davies by throwing a cymbal at him. Not fatal, but 16 stitches and an attempted murder charge cost the Kinks big time.) The worst business "anti-team" presentation I've seen took place when one member sabotaged another by changing key slides at the last minute, totally throwing off the speaker in front of his company's senior executives.

Since things can go “bad,” and coordination can be hard, many teams simply divide the work into separate, non-overlapping parts, and deliver a series of individual presentations. That’s a choice, but it’s rarely the best choice.

Instead, clarify as a team what exactly is the goal of the presentation. Ask yourselves: “As a result of our presentation, we want (WHO?) to do (WHAT?) because (WHY?). Answer those “3W” questions and then put your material and speakers in an order that generates and keeps interest all the way through. There are no set rules on how to accomplish your goal, but being boring or confusing are good ways to ensure you will not accomplish it. Most teams fail to take all this into consideration, and thus they fail to engage their audiences effectively.

Remember that everyone on your team is presenting, even when they’re not speaking. The audience is evaluating you as a team. They are also noticing how you relate with one another. Paul Simon, in an interview with David Letterman back in 1982, was speaking of his fraught relationship with Art Garfunkel. He said, “In a performance situation, you get on each other’s nerves because your nerves are heightened.”

Clarify your goal, your message, and your "call to action." Then rehearse. Rehearse again. That way, during your actual presentation, you can focus on the audience and perform as a team. Oh, and stick to slides and other symbols, not homicidal cymbals!

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