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Academic presentations: Group presentations

Good practice in presentations including design and structure. Covers group and poster presentations

“The presentation needs to be cohesive rather than delivered as a collection of separate parts”

Barbara Chivers & Michael Shoolbred,
   A Student's Guide to Presentations

Many presentation assignments ask you to work as a group to produce and deliver the final presentation. Whilst all the advice on this website about presentation design is equally valid for both individual and group presentations, there are some specific considerations covered on this page.

1. Planning content and structure together

Rather than just dividing up the work into separate sections and working on them separately and then bring them together, plan the content AND the structure as a group. We recommend you have two initial meetings:

Meeting 1: Divide up the content to research

jigsaw pieces separated out

Every subject can be divided up into smaller areas and to be able to research and read about these efficiently it is best to divide it up early. Some of the sections may overlap but don't worry about it at this stage, just make sure all areas are covered. You can now go your own ways to do some initial research on your individual areas. This will prevent too much duplication of effort.

It is a good idea to decide at this meeting who will be your 'finisher': the person who is perhaps a bit more confident using PowerPoint or who has a good eye for design. Give this person the smallest topic to work on as they will be doing more work than the rest later.

Meeting 2: Decide on the content AND structure of your presentation

jigsaw pieces in a different order

Decide together what the title of each slide is going to be and in what order they are going to come. Based on your research you should be able to come up with a sentence that sums up each slide (this should be the title). Make sure there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the presentation. Now decide who is creating each slide.

2. Creating the presentation

This has two separate stages - individual slide creation and then bringing the slides together to create a single, cohesive slide deck.

Creating individual slides

jigsaw pieces joined together - all different colours

Now that you know who is creating each slide, each individual can once again work separately to create theirs. Don't worry about the look of the slides too much at this stage, concentrate on the visual and textual content rather than the fonts, colours, backgrounds etc.  Titles can be adapted slightly by individuals if necessary at this stage too - but make sure the same basic message is given to that you do not change the 'flow' of the narrative.

Bringing the slides together

jigsaw pieces coloured to gradually fade into each other seamlesslyWhen you are all finished, you can send your slides to your 'finisher'. It is their job to put together the slides into a cohesive whole so that it looks like the slides belong together as a single entity. Your finisher will decide the final 'look' of the presentation and be given a little leeway to adapt slides if they feel it necessary to ensure consistency.

3. Delivering together

Get together and practice delivering the presentation. You can book a library group learning room for this here: Book a Group Learning Room. It will be best if you deliver the slides you each created. However, the person who brought it together should also have an equal role, so you may want to decide to give them a few extra too.

Practising tips

  • a group presentingStand up to practice it as if you were actually presenting.
  • Make it flow by handing over to each other professionally:

"I'm now going to hand over to xxxx who will talk about...."

"Thank you xxxx"

  • Decide where the non-speakers are going stand/sit until it is their turn.
  • Check your timings over the whole presentation and consider adding a little more detail or simplifying it if necessary.
  • Practice delivering small sections of it without notes if you can (making eye contact for even a sentence or two per slide can make a difference to audience engagement).