Speak & Present Effectively

12 How to present as a team

Believe it or not team projects can be fun and rewarding. In this chapter we’ll look at how to make team projects efficient and successful.

Teamwork is a huge part of most jobs, so being able to work well with others and manage team projects is an essential skill that will enhance your career. In school, team projects help you learn key teamwork and project management skills.

Teamwork skills

Being a productive part of an effective team requires these skills:

  • Understand group dynamics
  • Flexibility: accept and adapt to others and their contributions
  • Respect: support your teammates’ diversity, perspectives and contributions
  • Give kind, useful feedback and accept feedback graciously
  • Contribute proactively and positively
  • Be a leader but allow others to lead when appropriate
  • Plan for and manage conflict

Project planning

Planning can make your team project successful and enjoyable. Create an effective team with pre-project planning:

  1. Read the project assignment and rubric or grading plan
  2. Create or join a team based on similar grade goals, ways of working, amount of time you’re willing to invest, and team organization / leadership style. Avoid joining a team just because your friends are on it.
  3. Organize your first meeting. Everyone must attend.
  4. Create a team charter or have a process conversation (details below).
  5. Record your plans: team organization / leadership; working style; roles & tasks; deadlines, etc
  6. Schedule the project, working backwards from the due date. Allow time for personnel or tech problems.

Process conversations

Process conversations make teamwork more productive and less frustrating. They’re simple conversations where you discuss and agree how your team will function.

Process conversations are strengthened when the outcomes are documented and saved to the for later reference. Create one central place that all teammates can access and store all your files and decisions there.

Strong process conversations answer questions such as:

At the end of your team process conversation, make sure to ask if there’s anything else: What else do we need to discuss?

The 5-finger vote

Sometimes a simple yes or no isn’t enough. The 5 finger vote gives useful nuance to discussions and decisions.

Instead of asking yes/no or for/against questions, ask team members to vote with their fingers. The scale is:

Number of fingers Meaning:
5 100% support the idea or action
4 Strongly agree
3 Slightly in favour
2 Mildly disagree
1 Strongly disagree
0 100% disagree

For example, your team is trying to choose a topic – will it be topic A, B or C? So you take a 5 finger vote. Most members are: 3 fingers for topic A, 5 fingers for topic B, and 2 fingers for topic C. Topic B is the clear winner.

Or you can add up all the fingers and use the total to decide. For example, That’s 12 fingers for topic A, 19 fingers for topic B, and 7 fingers for topic C. Topic B’s the winner.


Team Conflict

Conflict is almost inevitable in teams of busy, stressed students. Do your best to avoid conflict by:

  • Supporting each other (Remind yourself that you’ll all do better if you cooperate)
  • Communicating clearly and frequently, ensuring that everyone is clear on expectations
  • Using a team charter or process conversation
  • Being open-minded and respectful
  • Addressing concerns or frustrations early

Teams that prepare for conflict can deal with it quickly and effectively when it happens.


During the presentation

Introduce each other & remember transitions

Introduce each other at the start of your presentation. You can take turns introducing a teammate, or designate one person to act as the host, and introduce everyone. (Make sure you know each other’s names and how to pronounce them!)

If you have a host, they can handle the introductions, thesis, overview, transitions and conclusion. This adds consistency to your presentation and helps the audience understand what’s happening.  If you’re not using a host, ensure that you practice strong transitions from one teammate to another. For example: “Now that I’ve explained the reasons you should have a LinkedIn profile, Sharika will explain how to make your LinkedIn profile.”

Keep time

It’s also a good idea to designate one teammate as timekeeper. They can make sure you don’t go overtime, and help make sure all teammates have an equal chance to contribute.

Present as a unified team

A team presentation is very different from an individual presentation. One of the biggest problems we see is team presentations that don’t feel unified. You’ve got a team, present like a team!

For this reason, it is important to ensure that everyone is aware of what their teammates will be presenting, and know when transitions are meant to occur.

It is also important to show that you’re paying attention to teammates when they are presenting, and avoid fidgeting, talking, looking bored, or turning off your camera (just because you’re not talking doesn’t mean that you disappear).  You can suggest to the audience that your group is doing a good job by nodding when a teammate delivers a strong point.

In some less formal presentations, you may decide to interact with each other: have a conversation, interview each other, argue two sides of an issue, or have some teammates demonstrate what’s being described.

Maybe some teammates can demonstrate or hold visual aids.

In online presentations, teammates can be working behind the scenes while others are presenting.  One person might be handling the tech, another might be watching the chat, and another might be controlling presentation slides.

Plan the Q&A

If you’re including a Q&A at the end of your presentation, decide how your team will handle it. You might designate which teammate will answer different types of questions, or your team might take turns answering.

At the end of each answer, ask the other teammates if they have anything to add. See more details in Chapter 13: How to handle audience questions


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Business Presentation Skills by Lucinda Atwood and Christian Westin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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