Is Your Presentation Style Truly Collaborative?

After a recent presentation skills training, I had an interesting question from one of our participants. What is a truly collaborative presentation style?

I found it fascinating because we can learn so much from people who present in a collaborative manner. I recommend you take a moment right now. Think about the presenters and public speakers you admire. Spend a few minutes considering their presentation style. Is it collaborative? Is it directive?

Back to the question. Collaborative style is a web of elements. It is not a one-time, one-way kind of thing. Think of it as a network of beliefs, practices, manners of speaking and actions.

Here’s a high level take on this very valuable perspective in presenting.


Do you believe that collaboration improves the process, product and work environment? Come on now. ‘Fess up. If you do, you know it. If you don’t…well-it shows.

You can’t fake beliefs. If you don’t believe in collaboration, somewhere and sometime this will show.


Do you set up your workflow to encourage collaboration? Do you have a set of best practices-from asking for input, encouraging brainstorming, respecting suggestions, and allowing enough time-to foster a collaborative environment?

If you’re always working on urgent time-frames, you won’t invite much collaboration.

Manner of Speaking

Do you ask questions? Do you listen to answers? Often unconscious habits and manners of speaking prevent or invite collaboration.

For instance, if you don’t ask questions and invite input, will staff openly share their opinions? Or if you ask for questions but then scold people about their answers, will people continue to contribute?


Do you include your team and co-workers in preparing, brainstorming and strategizing on a project or presentation? Many busy professionals want to include their team, but get caught up in urgency and deadlines.

Create a war-room or brainstorming headquarters for collaborative preparation. Use the location to streamline planning-especially when working on multiple projects.


Do you structure interaction in your presentations? Are you presenting with team members or outside experts? Pay close attention to weaving one story together across the entire panel. This helps your audience understand complex presentations and enter into the conversation.


Remember what ‘mom’ said? Actions speak louder than words. It’s still true. Collaboration often comes down to what you do-more than what you say.

Focus on what your actions say. Make an extra effort to thank collaborators for their efforts. Spend time with people who have made your presentation, project or event a success. In the realm of actions…a little goes a long way.

While it’s easy to think, “Hey, I’ve got a collaborative style!” it often comes down to the little things. By taking a close look at the blend of elements, it’s possible to rapidly increase your scores on collaboration.

If being collaborative is important to you, this is time well spent. Your team, your clients and your prospects will notice. Collaboration in presenting is a vital trait.

Why is collaboration style so important?

Your style speaks volumes to customers, employees, and prospects. If you talk over others, ignore suggestions, and constantly invest in controlling outcomes…everyone will notice. On the other hand, if you consistently invest in brainstorming, collaboration, appreciative inquiry, facilitative behaviors, interactive dialogue and open group process…everyone will notice.

Now, let me ask you a personal question. Do you prefer working in an uptight environment where every move is dictated? Or do you prefer working in an open, collaborative and innovative atmosphere where your contribution is valued?

Somehow, I think we can all agree. Collaboration is attractive. It makes you attractive. And it makes your business attractive. A collaborative style in presenting is not just about you. It speaks about your brand, your company, and your organization.

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