Whether for an introductory course, internship, or senior seminar, group presentations are part of everyone's college experience and can be a source of very real anxiety. Next time you are assigned a group presentation, don't panic-instead, embrace the opportunity to learn and demonstrate your abilities. Read to find out what you can do to make your next group presentation memorable.
Distribute the Work Evenly
The first step to planning an A-worthy presentation is to make sure everyone carries their own weight, though this is easier said than done. This step will set your presentation up for success but can be challenging to pull off. It is likely that at least some of the people in your group will have unmatched academic abilities and work ethics, but this problem can be overcome.
Outline the work that needs to be done for the whole project and divvy up roles based on what people are comfortable doing. Make the expectations of each person clear so that there is accountability from start to finish-if something gets sloppily finished or is left entirely undone, the issue can be traced back to whatever group member is responsible and handled accordingly. If necessary, discuss problems with the professor. Don't let one person's laziness sabotage your entire group's work.
Schedule Deadlines and Rehearsals in Advance
As a college student, it can be incredibly difficult to manage your own time let alone synchronize the schedules of several different group members. Planning to get together as far in advance as possible makes it less likely that other commitments are prioritized over important group planning time.
At your first group meeting, set a timeline for when things need to be done. Schedule meetings, deadlines, and rehearsals as far into the future as the assignment allows. Never plan to cram at an all-night stress fest the night before-tired and over-extended group members will have a hard time executing even the most well-planned presentation.
Just as you should use the strengths and weaknesses of group members to assign planning roles before the presentation, you should consider the abilities of every group member when deciding how the presentation itself should actually be delivered. Cohesion is crucial to a great presentation. People will notice if one or more group members do not speak or the presentation gets off-topic each time a new person takes over, and weak delivery does not bode well for your grade.
When you are planning how you will present, ask yourself and your group members the following questions:
- What is the best way to deliver this material?
- What presenting strengths does each group member have?
- What goals must be met during the presentation?
- How will we divide and conquer scripting the presentation?
- What will we do if the presentation gets off-topic or a member forgets their part?
Prepare for Emergencies
Hopefully, you have put the time into creating an outstanding presentation, so don't let small hiccups derail it. Make sure that you know each other's responsibilities well enough to take over for them in times of crisis.
You never know when someone will get unexpectedly sick, face a family emergency, or be otherwise unable to show up for a presentation. Have a system in place where one group member can serve as an understudy for another group member so that your presentation does not crash and burn if someone is not there. Make the most of your preparations by planning for any scenario and remember to work as a team when things go wrong.
For a crisp presentation that leaves a strong impression on your professor and classmates, you need to rehearse. At least one run-through from beginning to end can smooth out any wrinkles, help nervous members overcome their fear, and ensure that you haven't left anything out.
Go through your parts as planned and offer each other constructive feedback immediately after. This may be uncomfortable, but helpful peer feedback can prevent negative feedback and bad grades from professors. Frame comments to members positively with a "glow and a grow": one thing they did really well and one area for improvement.
You should also discuss a dress code right before you rehearse so that all group members don the appropriate attire for the occasion. Lend each other clothes to help each other out if needed.
Stay Present During the Presentation
As long as your group is up there presenting, you need to be giving the presentation your all. This means that, even if your part is over, you should remain alert, engaged, and undistracted. This will make your presentation look and sound better while also enabling seamless emergency transitions. If you pay attention to your whole presentation, you will be much better prepared to step in for someone that needs rescuing-also, odds are that everyone else (professor included) will be more likely to pay attention if they see you paying attention.
Group presentations can be very effortful and time-consuming, so celebration is definitely in order once it's over. Reward yourself as a team for a job well done to bond after the potentially traumatizing experience you have shared.