Most likely, at some point in your career you’ve been or will be a co-presenter – one member of a group speaking or presenting at a company meeting, a public meeting or a news conference. Co-presenters face some different challenges than do those who go solo.
Here are some things to remember when you’re a co-presenter:
You’re always “on.”
- During those times when you’re not speaking, the audience may still be watching you. Be sure to convey the appropriate demeanor. Don’t look bored or preoccupied. Remain engaged and convey your engagement visually – especially through facial expressions. If appropriate, smile; people trust smiling faces implicitly.
Watch your body language.
- If you’re seated, sit up straight. You’re not in your favorite living room chair, so don’t slouch or get too comfortable; if you do, the audience may see you as indifferent or not serious. Leaning forward in the chair says you want to be there. Don’t fold your hands and rest them on your lap like a dutiful school child. If you’re at a table, place your hands above the table, never below it, to convey confidence and strength.
Know where to look.
- Your options are actually quite limited when you’re not speaking: Look at your colleague who is speaking. If any PowerPoint visuals are being used, look at them occasionally. Look at members of the audience (eyes, not tops of heads). Don’t look around the room – scanning it for nothing in particular – or stare down at your hands, your notes or some other object.
Introduce your colleagues.
- If you’re the first speaker, it’s your role to identify the other speakers. Do it up front. Don’t forget to do it or wait until they speak, and keep the audience wondering who they are.
Don’t be a distraction.
- Sometimes you’ll see co-presenters standing near the speaker waiting their turn (with hands clasped in front below the waist in the “fig leaf” position – a weak stance, by the way). Avoid this. Sit down – perhaps in the front row or off to the side of the speaker.
- The time to be preparing or rehearsing your remarks is not while you’re waiting your turn to speak. So don’t stare at your notes, shuffle pages or write. (Occasionally jotting notes during the other presentations is fine.)
Have water at the table.
- This is especially important in stressful situations where your mouth can dry up quickly and frequently. A good rule of thumb to follow: the more serious or sensitive the meeting, the more important it is to avoid bringing drinks other than water. Coffee, including coffee in a Starbucks cup, a “Big Gulp” and other unknown drinks can send out the wrong message. Choose water – and have it in a clear cup or container – so the audience knows it’s water.
Support your colleagues during Q&A.
- One benefit of having co-presenters is that they can help each other during Q&A. Discuss in advance the types of questions each person will answer and how to signal to each other who should answer. Don’t be afraid to chime in if your colleague is struggling, if an answer is incomplete, or if things get tense (sometimes a fresh voice can calm things down).
Want to see some good co-presenter skills? Watch the co-anchors on your local news. These individuals have mastered the skill of communicating in pairs.