3 years in a row I’ve been involved in a contest. First year I came 2nd, second year I also came 2nd and this year I won! My over-roaring optimism eventually paid off.
Each year I get asked: “How do you do it?” “How do you make teams so creative and deliver such high quality presentations?”
This blog post is share some of the lessons I put into practice to always finish in the top 2, and this time to win.
Every year on a Leadership Programme I coach on, we present an exciting team challenge. A fun and creative exercise that demands teams pull together quickly in order to craft a winning presentation.
The topic is the Olympic Games. Each team has to prepare a fictional bid. A bid that must outline why their chosen country should host a future Olympic games! It will last a maximum of 10 minutes. They have 2 hours to prepare.
As leaders on the programme we get ‘slightly’ competitive. We have a natural drive to want to help our teams win. We usually have a discussion about our level of involvement. How hands on to be, how we should facilitate and how much we should step back and let the students lead. I believe a balance of both is the best formula. It allows us to demonstrate how to get the best out of a team. And also allows enough space for someone to step up and help lead the process.
Show personal excitement for the challenge.
This helps the team to feed off that energy and in turn helps confidence and ideas to build.
Set expectations about their creative ability to win this competition.
The becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. As I expect to see creativity, it happens before me. I have total certainty in every teams ability to create and present wonderfully.
Set ground rules.
Because it’s so fast, there is no time to play exercises to reinforce why this is so important. So I simply state: “this is a really fast activity and it requires us all to work as a team. With a creative presentation, there is no right or wrong way. Let’s all have fun with it. The most important thing we do: is to support each others ideas. If you feel an idea coming, share it, write it down, draw it out. Find a way to communicate it.”
Get ideas down on paper.
In a very short space of time, I encourage everyone to share their initial thoughts or knowledge on the topic we have. It allows everyone to feel engaged and usually presents some opportunities for direction.
Split the task into two areas and divide the team.
One sub team being focused on the creative output – the way we deliver an engaging/fun presentation. The other on the content and body of our bid. As the two sets of ideas develop, it’s imperative that an organising leader emerges. Someone that can piece it all together. Someone that can balance the creative ideas, with solid arguments and points that will eventually dictate our success.
This is the moment I step back and I allow the new leader to direct the team to ensure a clear idea is building and a vision is clear. I still remain involved but in a supportive role.
Make time for rehearsal.
As the idea is someone near 70% worked out, encourage the team to rehearse and figure out the rest afterwards.
Jumping into a full run through allows everybody to fully understand each part of presentation. It will also allow creative ideas to emerge as it unfolds. But more importantly, it gives the leader or director a chance to listen to the content from the perspective of the audience.
If you have time for 2 run throughs, in the first run through focus on ‘what is being delivered’, forgetting about the performance element. This will come when people have confidence in the material. Encourage the leader to take notes or add ideas or things that need to change.
The second rehearsal you can practice ‘presenting with confidence’. Being as authentic as you can, speaking passionately and clearly, polishing any choreography and connecting with the room.
Fun vs Factual:
Getting the balance right
In previous years, the teams final bid presentations have been very engaging and had the ‘wow’ factor. In one year a team represented India and had a magnificent entrance piece: a young girl acting as Ghandi on a human elephant made from other team members. The other team representing Italy, a spell binding entrance walk with the Pope leading Italian legendary characters. In both cases, they were engaging, fun and entertaining. They had music, props, costumes and humour. They delivered it with confidence in an authentic and light hearted way. All the hallmarks of great presentations….just not quite enough to win. So this year I was focused on having all of the wows and engagement, but underpinned by logical justifications. The kind of compelling arguments that make people sit up and show confidence. Clear points that justify the validity to place trust in this group of people to deliver.
I hope these 6 tips help more leaders to get the best of their teams.
Good luck with your next presentation! 🙂