“We have come to a new understanding of the life of the mind. The notion of the solitary thinker still appeals to those molded by the Western belief in individualism. However, a careful scrutiny of how knowledge is constructed and artistic forms are shaped reveals a different reality. Generative ideas emerge from joint thinking, from significant conversations, and from sustained, shared struggles to achieve new insights by partners in thought.” – Vera John-Steiner, Creative Collaboration

Group projects. Some people love them. Others consider them to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Whatever your opinion of group work is, you can’t avoid it. There are times when you simply have to work with others.

At some point you might be asked to collaborate on a presentation or to participate in a panel discussion of some sort. If you enter these scenarios with the right mindset, it can be both enjoyable for the members of the group and highly effective and entertaining for the audience. Let’s look at three tips for how to make your collaboration a success.

Capture the Power of Collaboration

It might be tempting to use a divide and conquer approach. However, this type of strategy can kill the potential of a panel presentation. Simply dividing up points and having different members research, write, and present them will lead to a presentation that lacks cohesion and focus. Instead, embrace collaboration as the opportunity that it is and tell a single narrative together rather than several narratives individually.

Some people avoid collaboration because they are used to doing things their own way. They don’t like to debate or compromise. But collaboration is often the most successful path to creating innovative presentations. As Linda Hill says in her TED Talk, “How to Manage for Collective Creativity,” “innovation rarely happens unless you have both diversity and conflict” which are ripe in collaborative projects.

Take Advantage of the Variety

One great thing about panel presentations is that you have built-in variety due to the differences in the speakers. Even a different voice, style, or pace can help to gain and keep the audience’s attention throughout the presentation. So take advantage of this.

If you have three speakers, it might be tempting to split the presentation into just three parts. However, it might be more appealing to the audience if you switch off more often. There is no one right way to split material up. Get creative about what will produce the most entertainment and clarity for your audience.

Practice Together

With any presentation, it’s important to practice. This holds especially true when several presenters are working together. When practicing as a group, make sure to focus on your transitions. How will you move from one speaker to the next in a way that is seamless? Plan out exactly what you’ll do and then rehearse it.

In addition, make sure each speaker understands exactly how much time he has for each section of the presentation. And then stick to this plan. When several people are involved, you’ll have to work harder to make sure the presentation flows smoothly from beginning to end. And that means practicing the full presentation several times through ahead of time.

Collaboration can take your presentations to the next level. When you work and prepare well as a group, you can tap into innovative energy and pepper your presentation with greater variety which will give new life to your ideas.

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