Have You Ever Thought About Relay Speaking?
“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”– Steve Jobs
In the sport of track and field, two events are the 800-meter run and the 4 x 200 relay. In the second event, the 4 x 200 relay, four people each run 200 meters of the 800 meter total and pass a baton to the next person running when they have finished their individual 200 meters. Of course, the winner of each event has the fastest time.
The world record for the 800-meter run of 1 minute, 40.91 seconds is held by David Rudisha of Kenya.
The world record for the 4 x 200-meter relay (the same distance as the 800-meter run) of 1 minute 18.63 seconds is held by the Jamaican team of Nickel Ashmeade, Warren Weir, Jermaine Brown, and Yohan Blake.
It may be obvious, but having “fresh legs” on each 200-meter segment of the 800-meter run makes the difference in the times.
What does this have to do with speaking? Plenty.
When you think of speaking, you probably think of one person speaking. What if two, three, or even four speakers contributed to the presentation? Would you be more successful like the Jamaican world record-holding 4 x 200-meter relay team? Yes, you would.
Relay Speaking is when more than one speaker delivers the presentation passing the “baton” to the next person speaking. Below are three benefits of Relay Speaking:
Who has more knowledge about a subject area? One person or two, three or four persons? With more people speaking, more knowledge can be presented to the audience.
For instance, the presentation subject may be the history of England from the 1700s to the present day. Wow! This is a vast subject. Too broad for one person to know. But what if you teamed with two other speakers: You might present the 1700s, the second speaker might cover the 1800s, and the third speaker might talk about the 1900s to the present.
As another example, maybe, you are an astrophysicist, and the presentation’s subject is the cosmos’ history. Wow! Another broad subject. You might talk about how the cosmos affects our green planet Earth. The second speaker might present the vastness of the universe. The third speaker might cover how the planets in our Solar System were formed. You may even have a fourth speaker who might talk about life outside earth.
Now for a more “down to Earth” example. Pardon the pun.
Maybe the subject of the presentation is how to get along with difficult people. You might talk about how to handle those who “steamroller” over people. The second person might talk about how to get along with someone who never tells you their opinions. A third speaker might talk about how to deal with a dishonest person.
After these three examples, I think you get the point—more people speaking transfers more helpful knowledge to the audience.
Having other speakers present also keeps the energy up in the presentation.
More Speaking Energy
It is tough to keep a high energy level during a lengthy presentation. As a result, you may have noticed a “dip” in your energy during your presentations.
Like a fresh runner in the 4 x 200-meter relay, turning to a new speaker in a presentation can maintain the energy established with the previous speaker.
Why is it essential to maintain a high level of speaker energy during a presentation? Audiences come to presentations to gather new knowledge that can help them in their personal and professional life. They also come to be entertained.
You may not think of yourself as an entertainer. However, all speakers, regardless of the presentation subject, must entertain their audience to establish and sustain their audience’s interest throughout the presentation.
Having more than one speaker delivering the presentation does this.
So, more people speaking transfers more helpful knowledge to the audience and keeps the energy up in the presentation.
Additionally, more speakers give the audience more resources to reach back to after the presentation.
I guess you attended many presentations where you wanted to get back to the speaker with a question after the presentation. But, of course, with two, three, or even four speakers, you have more resources on which to draw.
Let’s use the first example in the “More Knowledge” section above to illustrate this.
The presentation subject is the history of England from the 1700s to the present day. You present the 1700s, the second speaker covers the 1800s, and the third speaker talks about the 1900s to the present.
Suppose you were the only one speaking on the history of England in the 1700s and some audience members were interested in the history of England from the 1900s to the present day. They would be out of luck.
I think you can see the point that more people speaking gives the audience more people to draw on to find the answers to their questions.
So having others speak during the presentation (relay speaking) has the distinct advantages of more people speaking, transferring more helpful knowledge to the audience, keeping the energy up in the presentation, and more resources to reach back to after the presentation.
Having more than one speaker deliver the presentation takes coordination, but just like the greater success of a faster time in the 4 x 200-meter relay, relay speaking brings so much more to the audience.
Call to Action
Consider doing a relay presentation to transfer more helpful knowledge to the audience
Consider doing a relay presentation to keep the energy up in the presentation
Consider doing a relay presentation to more resources to reach back to after the presentation.
“None of us is as smart as all of us.”– Ken Blanchard
Frank DiBartolomeo is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and award-winning speaker, presentation and interview skills coach, and Professional Member of the National Speakers Association. He was awarded Toastmasters International’s highest individual award, Distinguished Toastmaster because of his outstanding work in public speaking and leadership.
Frank formed DiBartolomeo Consulting International (DCI), LLC (www.speakleadandsucceed.com) in 2007. The mission of DCI is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence their colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence. Reach Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org and (703) 509-4424.
Don’t miss Frank DiBartolomeo’s latest book!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”