We recently worked with a client who was preparing for an upcoming company-wide meeting. They had decided that this night would focus on inspiration rather than just information. Their goal was to have roughly 30 different presenters share on different passion areas of their brand as well as tell stories to inspire the audience. However, in order to pull this off effectively, they had one major obstacle to overcome: Cohesiveness.
As you add different presentations together to build one larger presentation, maintaining cohesiveness is paramount to keeping your audience connected and following along.
At Ethos3, we have found that the key to creating a cohesive multi-presentation is to find the through line. This is the continual theme that shapes each presentation and creates the overall arc of the story. But how do you find the through line?
Here are 6 steps to finding the through line of your next multi-presenter presentation that will change the game for your overall cohesiveness.
Step 1: Decide on a general theme.
Before you ever ask your first presenter or design your first slide, you should decide on a general theme. This is a high-level idea that should define your overall desired outcome. For example, one of our clients had an overall theme that each brand was part of a bigger community. By establishing this overarching theme, each presenter could be hand selected based on their ability to serve that theme.
This theme should not be specific or complete, but rather a jumping off point to get you started. If you create too specific of a theme, you will box in the presentation, and it will be difficult to develop a cohesive arch to the overall presentation.
Step 2: Select your presenters.
As stated in the last step, you should select presenters based on their ability to serve the overall theme. If your overarching theme is the success of 2018, then you would select presenters who saw a lot of success in the 2018 year. However, if your presentation was learnings from 2018, you would select a spectrum of presenters that both succeeded and struggled in 2018.
It is also important to note that when selecting presenters for a group presentation, you want to pick great team players. The quickest way to break your cohesiveness is to have a presenter get up and steal the show. They must understand they are part of a team, and that this particular presentation is just one piece of the puzzle.
Step 3: Listen to your presenters.
Once you have selected your generic theme and presenters, it is time to sit down and listen to each of them. By asking a few prompting questions, you can quickly begin to see the passion that they have. Provide prompts like:
Tell me a story of a time this year you were most proud of.
What do you want the audience to feel when they leave this presentation?
These questions will give you insight into the areas your presenter can truly shine in; after all, the more passionate a presenter is, the more the audience will buy into the message. This exercise can be difficult as you may feel the urge to redirect or change the presenter’s mind about what they want to share. Resist that urge. At this step, you are simply looking for unabated passion that can be shaped later.
Step 4: Develop the arc of the story.
Once you have heard from each of your presenters, it is time to line them up and create the in-depth theme for the night. Chances are, if you completed steps 1-3, you will have heard a connection between each of these presenters already. It may be a catch phrase or even a story, but finding this through line is vital to the cohesiveness of the overall presentation.
In the case of a recent client, the phrase One Team, One Fight was born out of these 3 steps. Once that phrase was selected and the presenters slotted into their spots, it was time for the final fine tuning of the presentation.
Step 5: Fine tune the presenters.
By now, your presenters should have spent some time with their content and have a decent idea of what they would like to share. Once you have collected this information, it is time to push back and fine tune their content to fit the specific theme. This may be as simple as adding the catch phrase or idea into their content. But it also may require you to work with some presenters who are a bit off center from the overall story.
When working with these types of presenters, be encouraging as you redirect them. They have put in a lot of work up until this point, and you don’t want to negate it all. Look for the pieces of their content that works and focus on how to elevate those pieces while filling in the gaps that missed the mark.
Step 6: Create your intro and outro.
With any presentation that has multiple presenters, it is vital to have an intro and outro. The intro is a chance to set up the presentation and give the audience an idea of what they are about hear, while your outro will wrap up the presentation and tie together any loose ends. The intro should be used to introduce the overarching theme, and the outro should be used to wrap up and remind the audience of what they just heard.
We recommend waiting till the final step for this as you will have a good idea of any gaps or confusion that may arise during the presentation.
A cohesive presentation is crucial to audience engagement. If your audience is confused or unsure of why something is being discussed, they will most likely spend more time worrying about why they are confused than actually retaining the information. By implementing these 6 steps, your next group presentation will not just engage your audience, but it will leave them on the edges of their seats!
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