What Qualities to Look for in an Innovative Presentation Team Leader

By Ray Anthony, Barbara Boyd

A successful innovative team presentation has a strong, action-oriented leader. Within the company, the leader may have the title of project manager, sales account manager, owner, or executive responsible for a strategic change or innovation. Although the presentation team leader may choose to delegate some of the execution of specific tasks, he takes responsibility for many or all of the following jobs:

  • Selecting well-suited team members: Typically team members are subject-matter experts who present effectively, or who can at least be coached or trained to present well.

  • Defining desirable goals: Often the goal is inherent in the presentation or audience type, although an obvious goal of wanting to win a new client can be further defined by the scope, such as the monetary value of the new business.

  • Planning practical strategies: Strategies are not set in stone, but open for discussion and enhancement with the rest of the team.

  • Managing the creation of materials: Overseeing the design and production of content, handouts, and visual materials.

  • Setting deadlines: Keeps presentation preparation on schedule and takes swift, decisive corrective action when needed to keep things on track.

  • Managing team members: A presentation leader facilitates, motivates, evaluates, and coaches team members during the team rehearsals, as well as during the preparation leading to the rehearsals.

The strong, creative team leader, like a good quarterback, calls the plays ahead of the meeting and takes the lead at the start and throughout the actual presentation. The leader gives each member of the presentation team a detailed overview of the situation; identifies the major decision makers, their needs, wants, priorities, and preferences.

The team leader also directs members what to focus on during the presentation and what to avoid saying and doing; anticipates the potential competitors; foresees likely obstacles or resistance posed by some in the group; and does anything else that helps each member best craft their part of the overall presentation. A good team leader motivates and manages the team before, during, and after the presentation.

Although a C-level executive (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, and so on) may be present at the meeting to make firm commitments and assure the audience of the organization’s full support, the team leader presides over the presentation and runs the show as emcee, moderator, host, and the central — though not exclusive — focal point with whom the audience communicates.

During the formal question-and-answer session (Q & A), the team leader stands up to either answer questions or direct them to the person who can answer them. The clients or audience should get a clear sense of who is in charge of the process.

It was the lovable double-talking curmudgeon Casey Stengel, former baseball manager, who aptly said, “Gettin’ good players is easy. Gettin’ ‘em to play together is the hard part.” The Old Perfessor, as he was known, spoke from experience. Garnering cooperation from team members who share common traits (successful, experienced, smart, creative, and likely [or rightly] opinionated) might not be easy, but is worth it.