As a university professor, workshop instructor and seminar leader for the past 20 years, I often share the stage, lectern, classroom and panel with other co-leaders.
Some people hog the microphone, talk over you, diminish your input and let the clock run out before you contribute.
But hopefully you never will.
These five ways to be an excellent collaborator will ensure that you are as effective as possible when you share the billing. This applies to whether you are speaking on a conference panel, leading a day’s instruction or contributing expert commentary in a media space.Being an effective presenter as events like panels involves #collaboration. Click To Tweet
Plan to the minute. Deconstruct the day or the event by module and clearly define the boundaries and assignments for who is doing what when. Set the timeline, and adhere to it. Share and discuss the schedule ahead of time—by that I mean weeks ahead, not before you make certain everyone is pleased with the roles so that there is no ill will; compromise where possible.
If you are on a panel of experts, make sure the moderator is on board to mark everyone’s response time and have a system in place to tell someone to wind down now. I hold up index cards that say “1 minute left” or “Stop.” And make sure you follow the timing restrictions. For instance, if you are assigned 10 minutes for a section, do not take 15. Consider your timely duty a key responsibility.
“In the planning phase, make sure the two of you have a frank conversation before you meet with the meeting organizer and go over the planning worksheet. Share your individual expectations, panel preferences, and facilitation styles. Clarify your roles, objectives, agenda, timeframes and how each of you envision the day will proceed. Discuss how you will support and intervene with each other,” according to Powerful Panels.
Ask your partner if you can comment. In the frequent eight-hour seminars I lead with a partner, we are keen to respect each other’s boundaries. Over the day, you may have a fresh insight to add or a participant may ask your co-leader a question that you are uniquely qualified to answer. Even if you are enthused and excited to share what you know, ask permission. “Is it OK with you if I respond here?” That demonstrates a mutual respect for each other, that will translate into respect for your team. It also shows that you are not out to grab the spotlight at every possible turn. You want to stay in your lane and know who is doing what and do not change lanes unless you ask.
“Explore and understand each other’s strengths and expertise, then go through a detailed process of agreeing who is responsible for what. This isn’t a one-off conversation. Make co-leadership sustainable by regularly re-evaluating your roles and effectiveness,” writes Rebecca Newton ,Visiting Fellow in the Department of Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in Harvard Business Review.
Stay on schedule. It is so easy to get derailed, particularly if you have a room of enthused participants, some you may want to overshare and who will put you off your perfectly timed curriculum. Trim where necessary, but do not ever assume it is OK if you feel like adding in more than you discussed ahead of time, that this is OK. If you go on and on, your co-leader will have less time to contribute. Adjust the timing together. Sometimes the schedule goes awry for a number of reasons—I was in a workshop when an unplanned fire drill added 30 minutes to the day— but be gracious and accommodating to your co-leader about what stays in and what gets shortened.
“It’s harder to estimate how long workshop segments will take in a long workshop because presenters tend to let activities go on if they’re going well (after all, there’s plenty of time), and often find that they can’t get to much of what they planned. You need to decide whether you want to stick to your plan and, thus, limit activities to approximately the time you planned for them, or to go with the flow, and let things go on longer if participants seem to find them important. Checking in with the group is usually a good way to decide which way to go,” according to Community Tool Box.
Attribute, thank and compliment. This is the trifecta of graciousness. When you pass the baton in a seminar to your co-leader, thank her for her contribution. And thank her by name. If you are on a panel, thank the person who spoke before you and compliment him or her on the insight.When contributing to a panel or conference event, attribute, thank and compliment. #sharethestage Click To Tweet
During your speech or presentation, make sure you attribute by name any ideas, projects, new work or comments created or completed by someone else. You want to be seen as someone who rightfully acknowledges the input of others and is not trying to seem like everything that comes out of your mouth was your idea and yours alone.
We have all been in meetings and situations where co-workers– even bosses—deliver a presentation about your idea or the idea of someone else without attribution. I once accidentally attended a presentation by a colleague (who was also my research advisor) at a large academic conference whose entire presentation was about my ideas for book I had been working on for a few years. He was suprised to see me.
“Help the moderator make sure all the voices on the panel are heard. Don’t hog the mike or exhaust the question on your turn; make it a conversation. Engage the other members of the panel in discussion by passing the metaphorical ball. And if a question is more relevant to another panelist, wait for them to speak first, “writes author and editor Susan Morris.
Pay attention. Just because your module may be over, or it is not yet your turn on the panel, pay rapt attention to your co-leader or co-presenters. Do not doodle, tweet, yawn, nap, fidget or act bored or disinterested. It is rude. I have worked with co-leaders who in full sight of all participants clearly are doing other work and not paying attention to what I am saying. I have also seen on Twitter snapshots of panelists who fall asleep. You do not want to end up a meme.
“As a facilitator your role is to remain objective and be observant. You’ll need to keep scanning the room to sense the mood and energy. You’ll be keeping discussions on track while remaining flexible to any interesting change in direction. This is all while you’re keeping the end goal in mind,” writes Alison Coward in Prototypr.
Do not publicly correct your co-leader. This applies to collaborators who are on the same team, with the shared vision and goal of a singular message. If your co-leader makes a stumble, says an inaccurate statement that is significant or completely leaves out an integral part of the module, do not ever correct her in front of the audience. Instead, wait until you have a private moment at a break, and say what was inaccurate. For instance, a wrong date, time, price, process, information or other key fact may have been stated. Give your co-leader the chance to address the group and apologize with the correct information. If it is a huge omission and your co-leader is unaware, proceed seamlessly, saying something like, “I would like to add something here if I can?” Then insert what was inadvertently left out of the module.
“A leader needs to be open and accept that mistakes will happen. No employee or leader is perfect all the time. Your expectation level and tolerance for mistakes will define the degree of concern you attach to a mistake,” writes Bill Howatt in The Globe and Mail.
I have unfortunately shared the stage with spotlight stealers who interrupt, talk over me and break any or all of the above suggestions. I have also worked with co-leaders and fellow presenters who are an absolute dream, setting each of us up for success and giving to the audience an exceptionally great experience.Realizing that you have the power to be a better and more effective presenter if you accept that you can define the terms of the #collaboration and adhere to them, will raise the barre for all participants. Click To Tweet
Realizing that you have the power to be a better and more effective presenter if you accept that you can define the terms of the collaboration and adhere to them, will raise the barre for both of you. According to Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, “By redefining power not as ‘Power-Over’, but as ‘Power-To,’ we shift from a culture of oppression to a culture of positive intention to make things better for everyone. ‘Power-To’ is leadership.”
Together, you and your co-presenters have the power to influence real change.