Beware the double act!

How to succeed when you have to present with someone else

Beware the double act!

There are two things guaranteed to make my heart sink in a heartbeat:

  1. When the hot tap runs cold for too long and it dawns on me that the boiler’s on the blink.
  2. When a client tells me (often with misplaced excitement) that they’ll be giving a big speech with someone else. 

It’s obvious why the dodgy boiler is unwelcome but if you’re struggling to see what I can have against a shared speech, then let me enlighten you…

The involved parties don’t always have the same ambition for the speech and, if they do, their commitment to preparation, view on appropriate tone and their estimation regarding adequate rehearsal time rarely tally. And so follows frustration, resentment and a performance that is at best disjointed and at worst disjointed and moody. Never think a shared presentation will make life easier for you - it won’t. 

But if you absolutely have to give a speech with a colleague or a fellow best man and you want to maximise its chances of success, then here’s what I suggest:

  • Appoint a leader - and make sure it’s you. Yes, this will mean you’ll have the bulk of the work to do, but it also means that the work will get done and you won’t be waiting for Dave’s slides - which might be substandard - the night before the morning of the presentation. Set a timeline - a date for brainstorming, first draft, second draft and rehearsal time.  
  • Brainstorm together. The other speaker’s ideas need to be heard and, ultimately, voiced in the presentation, and brainstorming is often good fun. You’ll bond during it and you won’t then be accused of running off with the speech.
  • Write the speech up and email it out for comments. State the closing date for feedback. 
  • Rehearse together. This might feel awkward but it’s the only way you’ll discover the bits that are clunky, need some editing or simply don’t work. And you might find a few jokes that you hadn’t previously thought of. 
  • When you are delivering the presentation, don’t interrupt the other speaker because they’ve fluffed a phrase or aren’t emphasising the bits that you would. And if you happen to know their ‘lines’ then do not mouth them. Bite your lip if you have to.
  • Look interested in what your co-presenter is saying. Don’t use the time they're speaking in to zone out or mentally prep the upcoming section that you’ll deliver. 

If you'd like more tips from the top, then get in touch

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Five stars
“It was simply a pleasure to have Emma Taylor work with our sales teams and consultants, her candid style and humour won over the team immediately. Her following approach and wealth of knowledge was simply breath-taking; bringing confidence and comfort to a team who haven’t had to present to real humans for two years whilst the pandemic forced us into virtual beings! She received such rave reviews that bringing her back again is a “no-brainer.” Emma’s ability to customise each workshop to the attendees was the key to success as she was able to use our terminology and real life examples which really resonated with the attendees. Lastly, she brought together a wealth of information and put it into a format that was easy to understand and follow. So if you get a chance to bring her into your organisation, do it before someone else books her up!”

Tom Crump, Head of Sales, Sync

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