How to Prepare for and Lead a Group Presentation | SOS Podcast

How to Prepare for and Lead a Group Presentation | SOS Podcast

On occasion, supervisors are called upon to lead group presentations.  For many, it requires overcoming the fear of public speaking.  It also involves translating thoughts or ideas into a series of seemingly connected discussion points for a desired outcome or purpose  In this podcast episode, host Joe White provides suggestions anyone preparing to lead a group presentation can follow.




The SOS podcast is a production of AEU Lead, an organization redefining how mid and frontline managers are developed.

Hello, and thank you for joining us. I'm Joe White, and this is the Supervisor Skills Secrets of Success Podcast. Today's recording is our fifth in season four and our 47th since we launched the series in March 2021. For anyone listening that may be new, we're glad to have you. For those returning, we greatly appreciate your continued support to the SOS podcast series. Our topic today is one many supervisors struggle with. It also is associated with one of our most common fears, which involves public speaking. We're discussing group presentations, and I'll be offering suggestions for ways to increase proficiency and comfort developing and delivering them. While I won't be able to help remove any anxiety involving the task itself, I certainly hope to help you better prepare for it through a set of recommendations that have served me well over time. If this is a topic of interest and one you can benefit from, the journey starts now. That said, let's dive right into it.

As a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, I had an experience that forever changed my life. I delayed registering for fall classes and discovered several electives I wanted to take were full by the time I got around to it. Given schedule limitations and options available, the one class I absolutely didn't want to take was the only one available. It was public speaking. As was the case, I had a great professor, overcame some genuine fears, and grew more than I could have ever imagined as a result of the experience. All said things worked out far better in the end, helping prepare me for the career path I've taken.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It's very common and is believed to affect up to 75% of the population. If the thought of public speaking causes you stress or anxiety, you're not alone. Like so many other fears, the very things holding us back can be and often are where opportunities for personal growth and development most notably exist, and as it specifically relates to public speaking, this may be particularly true. As an example, billionaire Warren Buffett once said the best $100 he ever spent was on a public speaking course. According to his account, he signed up for a course only to cancel the check before it could be deposited. As he later explained, the thought of speaking in front of others terrified him. That said, he recognized the importance of overcoming the fear and knew for him to realize his goals, he would have to develop comfort behind a podium.

He later re-registered for the class, paying in cash, and confronted his fears head-on. In the process of doing so, he overcame barriers that would've undoubtedly changed the trajectory of his career. The primary objective of this episode involves helping you better prepare for group presentations. Although it won't fully erase the discomfort of speaking in front of others, it will help. The other bit of advice to go along with the following suggestions involves the need to practice. To gain confidence and comfort with public speaking, you have to do it, and for anyone wanting to learn more, here are several suggestions for consideration:

1. Determine the purpose. 

Several leading experts on facilitating group meetings suggest building presentations around what's often referred to as the three P's:

  • Purpose
  • Process
  • Product

The first P involves purpose, which is all about the why. Why is the meeting needed? Why are you asking those involved to attend, and why is the topic a pressing matter?

The answers to these questions should be summarized into a single statement and used as a point of reference during presentation development. In addition, your purpose statement should also be provided to your audience upfront so they know what to expect and why they're there.

2. Design a process. 

The second P involves process, which is all about the "how?". How will the meeting be run? How will participants be engaged or involved? How will the purpose of the meeting be achieved? As noted in the previous step, a process statement should be developed based on the responses to the outlined questions. The statement should be provided to meeting participants along with the other two P's at the onset of the meeting.

3. Define the product. 

The third P is built around the desired outcome of the meeting. It involves a clearly defined and articulated product or result, which involves what a product can be to inform, reach a consensus, make a decision, or something else. Having clarity around the desired outcome of a meeting helps keep everyone focused and can be used to keep the course of discussion on track. As with the other two P's, a product statement prepared and shared up front along with the meeting's purpose and process, greatly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of outcomes.

4. Consider your audience. 

In addition to the organization of faults the three P's provide, those leading group presentations must also consider group participants. How familiar are they with the topic? What's their background, and what bridges will you need to build for needed connections between points of reference? Avoid jargon, use of acronyms, or industry-specific slang. To every degree possible, engage with and involve participants through facilitative methods by asking questions requiring input, ideas, or suggestions.


5. Prepare the presentation. 

The fifth and final step involves preparation. It's all about pulling together the resources needed to achieve the purpose of the meeting by means of the process outlined for the stated outcome. 

It involves: 

  • Practicing delivery
  • Clarifying key points
  • Anticipating needs participants may have 
  • Providing participants with a sound return

For those preparing slide decks, it requires comfort speaking to slides and not reading from them, and perhaps most importantly, it's about providing participants with a sound return for their investment of time, energy, and effort.

Supervisors are often called upon to lead group presentations. For many, the task is one that's dreaded, requiring communication skills that few have had the opportunity to develop. By following a few simple rules, the effectiveness and efficiency of meetings can be greatly improved. State your purpose, define the process, and clarify desired outcomes. Consider the needs of the audience, practice deliveries, and familiarize yourself with the content being discussed. Most importantly, learn to find comfort in being uncomfortable. The very things we find difficult are often the springboards needed for growth and development to occur.

Thank you for joining us. It's my sincere hope you found benefit in our discussion today. We'll be back in June and look forward to you joining us then. If you know of someone that could benefit from the topics of discussion, please forward a link with an endorsement for their consideration. Should you have any questions or need additional information regarding our topic, just let us know. Our contact information is provided in the show notes accompanying this episode. For those that may not have reviewed or rated your experience with our show, we would greatly appreciate you doing so. That's it for now. Stay safe, and thanks for listening.

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About the Author

As Director of AEU LEAD, Joe White focuses on helping members transform operational goals into actionable plans through a structured change management process. Prior to joining AEU, Joe was a senior consultant for E.I. DuPont’s consulting division, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS). He joined DSS in 2011 to develop the next generation of safety practices using extensive research in behavioral sciences he’s compiled over a period of nearly two decades. His efforts resulted in the development of The Risk Factor, which is now the flagship instructor-led offering for the consulting division. Combined, Joe has 26 years of operational safety experience, the majority of which was with DuPont. Joe has been published in Occupational Health & Safety Magazine for his prominent work in safety relative to behavioral and neurosciences and is an event speaker at many leading industry conferences including National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expos, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and National Maritime Safety Association (NMSA). Joe is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a B.S., in Safety and Risk Administration.

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