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Demonstrating Before a Group

Q1:What's the best way to do a product demonstration for a group?
Whenever you have to focus the attention of the audience on a prop (a tangible object), you should be concerned about physical perspective. If your physical perspective of the object—your viewing angle—is different from that of the audience, communication is lost. Many product demonstrations fail because the presenter and the audience do not share the same perspective during the demonstration.

For example, let's say the product you need to demonstrate is small enough to rest on top of a table and light enough that you can hold it up to show people. If you are standing and the audience is sitting, the object will be viewed from different angles as it rests on the table. Your angle is from above, and each person in the audience, by virtue of his seat, has a different viewing angle to the object. That should be your first indication that you need to change the perspective. You might decide to hold the object in the air so people farther back can see, but you still end up with a variety of viewing angles. What can be done to equalize the perspective?

One solution is to reproduce the demonstration for view on a screen. The display screen is the great equalizer of perspective. You can use a still photograph of the object or you can play a videotape of the object in use. You can even use a camera connected to your projector to show the live demonstration on the big screen. There are many ways you can create a visual impression of the object so everyone has the same perspective. This is why movies are so entertaining. The camera is doing all the work for you.

Handling Team Presentations

Q1:I give presentations as part of a team. Sometimes two or three of us present different parts of the big picture. Do you have any advice for team presentations?
Teams are very common in high-level sales presentations, initial public offerings (IPOs), and other events where several experts are required to deliver a single message. Whatever the venue, the point is that more than one person is presenting, and that alone changes the dynamics of the event.

The mechanics of function, as discussed in this chapter, play a very important role in the relationships established by the team for the audience. The better the team members know each other, the more cohesive the team appears. I would first suggest you get to know the players on your team. Find out likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, opinions, concerns, fears, aspirations, and anything else that will help you understand the characteristics of your team members.

Let's put this into perspective using a husband/wife analogy. Even if you aren't married, this can apply to any two partners who know each other very well. You and your partner are at a dinner with several friends. A suggestion is made to commit to doing something the following Saturday night. You look at your partner and you can sense, within seconds, his interest in the plan. This is because you understand how each of you thinks, feels, and behaves in similar situations. You share a personal history.

When I coach teams, I use exercises to build a personal history to be shared by all team members. I suggest you look for that history in your team members. Have they been through this type of presentation before? Have they experienced a similar turn of events?

Another important element in team presenting is what I call “the exchange.” This is the transition between presenters—the awkward moment when one person finishes a section and introduces the next person to continue with the presentation. It is during that moment that an audience looks for a relationship between the two individuals. Do they like each other? Are they friends? Do they get along? Most presenters will simply leave this moment blank. There are no words spoken, no dialogue planned, no exchange.

You should develop a small bit of banter so that the audience gets an immediate impression that the two presenters have a good, healthy relationship. Maybe you plan a humorous story where one person comments on the driving habits of the other “on the way to the presentation.” Perhaps you mention a personal hobby or sport that the other person likes. The point is to let the audience see that a relationship exists. If they think you work well together, they will feel more confident in the organization that supports you as well.

Team presenting is about demonstrating relationships, and relationships can be built only from sharing personal information that can be used to help the team function as a unit.



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