Presenting as a Group

Learning Objectives

Describe different formats for presenting as or for a small group.

Five people presenting as a group

Small groups are often a problem-solving group that researches a situation or problem that presents their conclusions and recommendations. This presentation might take different forms including an individual reporting, a group presentation, or a panel discussion.[1]

Regardless of the particular method of delivery, all the elements of outstanding public speaking apply. These elements include a logical structure; an engaging introduction and strong conclusion; well-supported main points; and clear, descriptive language. In terms of delivery, having excellent eye contact, vocal variety, an open posture, and animated features all combine to effectively convey the group’s message.

Let’s look at three presentation formats in more detail:

Individual Report

Although the entire small group has participated in researching and discussing a particular project or objective, oftentimes one person will be designated to present the findings or recommendations. This person might be a group leader or a member who enjoys or has experience presenting. Ideally, the entire group would assist in putting together the presentation so that it is balanced, easy to follow, and well supported. Both the main presenter and the group members might be called upon to answer questions both before and after the presentation. Depending on the tone and setup of the presentation, group members might chime in to clarify any points, so long as they don’t take over the presentation.


“A symposium is a public presentation in which several people present prepared speeches on different aspects of the same topic” (Lucas, 2020, p. 387). If your small group presents a symposium, you need to decide in advance who will present which aspect of your findings or project and practice in advance. Sometimes, the group leader will act as a moderator to introduce the group and segue between each speaker. Other times, each speaker will conclude their remarks by introducing the next speaker: “now that I’ve talked about the risks of adopting our proposal, I’ll turn the time over to Raj to discuss how we hope to address those risks.” In a symposium, each speaker needs to plan their time carefully so they don’t take over other presenters’ allotted time.

Panel Discussion

Like a symposium, a panel discussion draws on some or all members of a small group to present. Unlike a symposium, a panel discussion tends to be more informal and conversational, with a moderator introducing each panelist, asking questions and facilitating the discussion. Like all public speakers, panelists should be well prepared with their content and confer with other panelists in advance, possibly bringing along notes to refer to. However, the tone should still be more spontaneous and discussion oriented with some back-and-forth among panelists and with the moderator. A panel discussion often involves a question-and-answer period with the audience. When asked questions, panelists should listen carefully to each question, keep their responses relatively brief, and be sure they’ve clearly understood and responded to any questions.

Practice Question

  1. Lucas, Stephen. The Art of Public Speaking. United States, McGraw-Hill Education, 2020.