Presenting Group Thinking

Group Presentation Formats

Group presentations can be structured around a set format or can borrow components from different formats.

Learning Objectives

Define four formats of group presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • A panel format is a discussion between group members led by a moderator.
  • A divided presentation is a sequence of individual presentations by group members.
  • A debate format presents two sides of an issue and reasons for and against each side.

Key Terms

  • symposium: A conference or other meeting for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants make presentations.
  • forum: A form of discussion involving a panel of presenters and often participation by members of the audience.
  • format: The form of presentation of something.

Group presentations can take place in different formats. These formats give a group an idea of how to structure their presentation, though different components can be taken from several formats and combined according to a group’s particular needs and goals.

Panel Presentation

A panel is a format in which the presenters talk to each other in addition to the audience. Typically the panel will consist of several group members to whom a moderator poses questions. The panel members then present their views on the question and discuss their different answers. The audience has the benefit of viewing this dynamic discussion play out before them. Often questions will also be taken from the audience, so audience members can become involved in the discussion as well. However, with such loose organization, the moderator must maintain control over the presentation and keep the group on topic.


Panel Discussion: In an panel discussion, the panel members talk to one another as well as the audience.


A symposium presentation is a group presentation that is essentially a collection of individual presentations covering a broad topic. The topic is broken up into subtopics, and each group member, one after another, makes a presentation on his or her subtopic. All together, the group covers the topic in its entirety. This format is very easy to organize and coordinate as long as each group member remains cognizant of not addressing a different member’s subtopic. Since this method can make for a long presentation, the group members must concentrate on engaging the audience and keeping their attention.

Public Forum

Public forum debate can be compared to a nationally-televised debate, such as ‘Crossfire’ in which the debaters argue a topic. The debate in a public forum is conducted by teams of two people alternating speeches for their side, either affirming or negating their topic. Successful public forum debaters must make persuasive and logical arguments in a manner that is accessible to a wide variety of audiences. Public forum debate also focuses on not only logical, but research based arguments.

Oral Report by Group Leader

In this format, the designated leader of a group makes an individual presentation of the group’s thoughts and findings on a topic. The leader may summarize views from several different group members and present points of agreement and disagreement.

Thoughts for Group and Individual Presenters

Each individual in a group presentation should know their role and stay consistent and cooperative with the other members.

Learning Objectives

Demonstrate how to each individual in a group should participate in a group presentation

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The first speaker should introduce the entire presentation. After that, each speaker should introduce the next and transition with a preview of their topic.
  • Each presenter should make eye contact with the audience and move to the front of the group when it is his or her turn to speak. The last speaker should then conclude the entire presentation.
  • When preparing the presentation, the group should check each individual’s work for consistency of information and formatting. Group members should answer audience questions as a team with no one member dominating.

Key Terms

  • transition: The process of change from one form, state, style, or place to another.
  • consistency: correspondence or compatibility

There are several important considerations for an individual to keep in mind to help a group presentation succeed.

Choosing Roles

The instructor may require every person to speak during the presentation. However, if you are given a choice of how many speakers to include, decide which group members will speak and which ones will not. Because it is important for every student to develop strong knowledge of presenting, every member could benefit from speaking. Any members who do not present should be given other significant responsibilities.

Members of a group speak during a Tuskegee Airmen presentation.

Group Presentation: In a group presentation, all of the members will have a specific role.

Group Introduction

The first speaker should open with an introduction to the whole presentation rather than an introduction to only his or her part. This group introduction makes the presentation as a whole accessible to the audience. It introduces the group members, establishes goodwill between speakers and the audience, motivates them to listen, and previews all the talks.

Transitions between Speakers

Each speaker should identify the next speaker by name and signal that person’s topic. Changing speakers without such a spoken transition can break the flow of the presentation, and it may leave the impression that you are unprepared or that your presentation is unorganized. A transition should remind the audience of the sequence the group introduction promised. It should help listeners know where they are in the presentation as a whole. Transitions may also emphasize any special qualifications of the next speaker.

Internal Previews

Each individual speaker except the first should connect his or her part to the overall argument and tell the audience what topics he or she will discuss. Such statements identify the structure of the talk and help the audience follow along.

Group Conclusion

The last speaker should present a conclusion for the whole presentation rather than just a conclusion for his or her part. The last speaker is responsible for ensuring that the series of talks is comprehensible as a whole. He or she should summarize briefly the key points, motivate the audience to act, or reinforce the group’s interpretation of the issue with a memorable closing statement.

Move to the Front to Speak

If all the group members remain standing during the presentation, each one should move to the front of the room when it is his or her time to speak. Moving to the front will non-verbally draw the audience’s attention to the speaker.

Connect with the Audience through Eye Contact

In a team presentation, every individual speaker needs to develop rapport with the audience. Since each person has only a short time to connect with the audience, eye contact and introductions are especially important. Speakers should stand where they can see the computer screen, the audience, and, if possible, other team members.

Check for Overlaps, Accuracy, and Consistency

Since group members often prepare their parts of the presentation individually, it is necessary to check for overlapping or contradictory information once the individual parts are assembled. Although the first and last speakers cover the presentation as a whole, the speakers in the middle should not re-present evidence unless new analysis is involved. A speaker should build on what the previous speaker said—not merely repeat it.

Check for Consistent Formatting

All handouts or visuals should use the same formatting. A patchwork of different fonts, font sizes, and other formatting conventions may negatively impress the audience, distract or mislead them, and undermine the group’s credibility.

Answering Questions as a Team

The person who speaks first should act as the leader during Q&A. He or she should direct questions to the team member who knows most about the topic of the question and should therefore answer first. The leader should not dominate Q&A. Other team members may unobtrusively signal that they would like to contribute to the answer when the first person finishes.

Preparing for Team Presentations

The way a team functions while preparing for a presentation can be broken down into formal processes and interactions.

Learning Objectives

Define the processes that describe the dynamics of group thinking and team presentations

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The model for understanding team processes can be grouped into three categories: transition, action, and interpersonal.
  • Teamwork processes examine interpersonal interactions between group members, which can be used as strategies for successful presentations.
  • Another approach to the dynamics of a team presentation involves looking specifically at the strategies that guide interactions between group members throughout the team effort.
  • Establishing ground rules, coordinating meeting times, and effectively resolving disputes are some methods used to build effective teams and group presentations.

Key Terms

  • strategy: A plan of action intended to accomplish a specific goal.
  • process: A series of events to produce a result, especially as contrasted to product.

Preparing for Team Presentations

The way a team prepares for a presentation can be broken down into formal processes and interactions. This is not a strict distinction, but two different ways of analyzing how a team achieves its goals while building, practicing, and delivering a presentation.


Researchers have identified ten teamwork processes divided into three categories, which can be used to describe the dynamics of group thinking and team presentations.

Transition processes are reflective in nature, and take place between periods of action. They serve to assess previous actions and outline future actions. In team and group presentations, these processes can serve to:

  • Determine what the team is trying to achieve, and what steps will lead there.
  • Specify the incremental goals and accomplishments that will lead to overall mission success.
  • Formulate an approach to achieving the goals and mission.

Action processes embody the steps that the group takes to move forward. Whether during preparation or delivery of a presentation, these actions are crucial to working effectively in a team. Team members within groups must:

  • Monitor progress toward goals and make sure the team is on track, rather than veering off course.
  • Assure that roles and responsibilities are being fulfilled.
  • Monitor and backup behavior to ensure that all members remain engaged.
  • Coordinate roles to keep things organized and working smoothly.

Interpersonal processes apply during the delivery of group presentations, while team member both present and transition between roles (e.g., speaker and observer). They include:

  • Identifying and resolving disputes.
  • Motivating and building confidence, while maintaining high member performance.
  • Making sure group member participation steers rather than stalls the development and delivery of the presentation.


Another approach to the dynamics of a team presentation involves looking specifically at the strategies that guide interactions between group members throughout the team effort. Examples of strategies for interaction include:

Three members of a group stand together and give a presentation.

Group Interactions: Timing transitions between slides and other breaks is crucial to a well-prepared group presentation.

  • Establishing ground rules: Establishing ground rules sets expectations for each group member on how the group plans to achieve its end goal (e.g, educate students, sell a product to prospects, etc). Making these rules explicit helps avoid miscommunication at the beginning of the project.
  • Mission analysis:This strategy ensures every team member has contact information for the others, and that everyone’s schedule is coordinated for meeting times. At a higher level, it means achieving consensus on how group decisions will be made and how group information will be shared with all team members.
  • Managing team cooperation: This strategy applies to group meetings. It focuses on outlining an intention for each meeting, and reviewing meeting activities and actions to ensure the intention has been met.
  • Resolving conflict: Resolving conflict requires the group to acknowledge that there is a legitimate conflict. The group must then agree on an approach to address it, and determine how to proceed. Possible solutions include discussing a compromise, referring to previously established group decisions, or deciding to address the issue later.
  • Preparing Back-ups: Practicing transitions between group members’ sections, preparing extra copies of handouts and other visual aids, and reviewing group members’ roles are all part of this strategy. This helps improve preparation and the delegation of tasks within the group.