Co-presentation with Leslie J. Morse at SGNOLA – advice and retrospective
I spent the beginning of this week at the Scrum Gathering – New Orleans (SGNOLA). As always, it proved to be a great time full of culture, learning, networking, and fun. I like to do recaps after conferences sometimes: first to ensure that I don’t lose what I captured, and second to share my thoughts with those who were unable to attend. The highlight of SGNOLA was my co-presentation with Leslie J. Morse: Can Definition of Ready make Scrum “The Big Easy?”
Leslie and I have been friends/acquaintances for the past year since we met at Scrum Gathering Las Vegas (SGLAS) in 2013. We have done some co-blogging and other idea collaboration. At Agile2013 we decided to craft a presentation on Definition of Ready, a strategy we were both using and were passionate about. We thought the Agile and Scrum community would benefit from learning more about practical application and just having that conversation could help teams to prosper.
This was my first official co-presentation. I have done a co-webinar and other co-presentations in an academic setting but not to this scale. Here are a few tips I would give in retrospect for people who co-present or are looking to start/improve.
- Practice, but not too much. Have an idea of what your slides are, who will cover which, and maybe a few thought out jokes. You don’t want to sound overly rehearsed as that takes away from your synergy.
- Feed off each other. If someone is nervous the other person should feed off that and help to include them more. If someone is very passionate and intense, the other person should make sure they are comfortable taking the reigns back to ensure a balanced presentation.
- Use two presentation remotes – this can lead to some odd humor when you both try to switch slides, but I still think it is less awkward than saying “next slide” to the person holding the clicker.
- When one person is drawing, the other person should be talking. Don’t try to talk and draw at the same time – advice from Chet Hendrickson.
- Each person’s goal should be to showcase the best of their co-presenter says Leon Sabarsky.
- Transitions! Make things seamless by practicing transitions between speaking at natural topic breaking points. Make sure to hand-off to your partner instead of abruptly stopping speaking. This is a great time for some friendly banter as well.
A few other good things about co-presenting is that the audience stays more engaged. Having one person speaking for 90 minutes can get monotonous, but the beauty of co-presenting is the different styles, tones, and inflections of each person in addition to the synergy between presenters keeps the audience interested. It also is helpful if one person gets stuck, the other person can jump in and help out without breaking the flow of the presentation.
Another helpful tip is to have a few close friends in attendance to give feedback after the presentation. It should be people you trust not to gloss over the improvement points and just tell you what you want to hear. As a presenter, you should be open and embrace this feedback and be ready to make immediate improvements where you can. Finally, make sure you take time to debrief with your co-presenter soon after your presentation (I’d recommend doing this over drinks). Even if it didn’t go as you’d hoped, it is important to address the issues while they are still fresh and keep the relationship going. As with everything, the more you do it, the easier it will become.
The conclusion of the conference and this co-presenting experience is positive. Leslie and I will give it a second chance and hope to present together again soon either on the same topic or something new. We got some very valuable feedback and are greatly excited to put it into practice and continue to add value to the Agile/Scrum community with our presentations. If you’re interested in hearing us speak together please contact us.