Too Many Speakers: How to Cut Down on Noise and Get People to Listen

You can tell when an audience has stopped listening during a presentation because phones come out and you notice they start to slouch in their seats to check their email or respond to a text. Instead of looking at the speaker and nodding along, they are looking down and tapping their feet as if to countdown until the presentation will be over. While this can happen as a result of a boring speaker, it can also happen when there are too many speakers on the stage. It can be challenging enough for an audience to follow along with one speaker much less multiple speakers with differing views, opinions, and presentation techniques. The truth is, putting together an effective group presentation takes teamwork and coordination so it doesn’t come across like a patchwork quilt. Even if you are seasoned presenters, teaming up to present with others can present new challenges that can be distracting to an audience. Here are some tips for collaborating with your team to plan and execute a seamless group presentation.

Know Your Roles Within the Team

We have all heard the expression, “there are too many cooks in the kitchen.” When too many people are all trying to work in a kitchen, things quickly become chaotic. The same is true for a group presentation. If you have a group of speakers vying for the attention of the audience, things can quickly go awry. That’s why it’s important to assign roles to each person based on their strengths. For example, one person may handle the technical aspects of the presentation while another person handles the introduction and conclusion. The person who is an expert at reading charts and graphs can present the statistical portion of the presentation. The key is to make sure each person has a clearly defined role so they are stepping on each others’ toes during the presentation. 

Make Sure the Presentation is Cohesive

This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for a group presentation. Each speaker may have differing opinions about the message they want to convey and too many messages can confuse the audience. The best way to overcome this is to come together as a group to set a single goal for the presentation. Make sure each piece of the presentation fully supports the main idea and flows in a consistent manner. 

Have a Strategy for Answering Questions

Question time can be extremely chaotic with multiple presenters if you aren’t prepared. Things can quickly get confusing if too many people jump in to answer the question. All this extra noise can distract and confuse the audience. It is better to have the overall leader of the team to direct questions to the speaker with the most relevant knowledge. 


Rehearse as a Group

While everyone needs to practice their individual parts, it is equally important to rehearse as a group. It is important to practice the order of speakers, so you don’t have too many people trying to talk at once during the presentation. It is also important to practice the transition dialogue as you move from one speaker to the next. You don’t want to lose your audience during transitions. You should practice the entire presentation as a group several times so everyone is on the same page about their role.