Rehearsing to Succeed in Short-List Presentations

By: JD Clockadale

Chief Development Officer of Speechworks

You’ve made it to the short-list presentation for a $50 million project. Your team has an approach to delivering the project on time, on scope, and on budget. You have pulled together your message and added visuals to enhance your presentation.  

What’s left to ensure success?


Rehearsing properly can win you the job.

But you have to do two things to rehearse well.
  • Practice from beginning to end without stopping like it’s a play.
  • Rehearse the little things that make you seem like a team.
Practice Like it’s a Play.

A team presentation is a lot like a play. There are “actors” playing different roles. Everyone has to remember their lines. And everyone has to work together to create a clear impression for the audience.

With that in mind, rehearse your team presentation like it’s a play. 

First, rehearse the entire presentation without stopping. Teams often rehearse parts of the presentation separately. But that prevents you from ever seeing how everything fits together. Complete rehearsals allow you measure improvement. 

We worked with a team recently as they prepared for a large airport project. The first run-through was ugly. But we did a critique and then made some changes. After two more complete run-throughs they were humming along smoothly.

Second, be sure to practice with a stop watch. Nothing screams “we’re not a good team” more than not being able to finish on schedule. So give everyone on the team a time limit. During the rehearsal, hold everyone to their times.

We worked with a team whose Project Executive was notorious for running over his allotted time. It made them look bad. The stop watch cured the problem. 

Rehearse the little things that say “Team Work.”

Looking like a team impresses decision-makers. But to look like a team, you need to practice in the little things.

Rehearse transitions. Introduce colleagues with enthusiasm. When making an introduction, give the audience a little preview. For example, “I am excited to have Joe come up and talk about how we will ensure site safety”. Try shaking hands as you hand-off. It’s shows team spirit. 

Practice Q&A. Write out a list of the questions you expect. Then decide who will take which question. During rehearsal, agree on who is going to be the “quarterback” to hand off the questions during the actual interview. 

Practice what to do when you’re not talking. What should team members do when they’re not speaking? They should be engaged, making good eye contact with the audience or the speaker. And during your rehearsals, the non-speakers should practice looking engaged.

Team presentations require practice. Practice well and you increase your chances to win.

Photo Credit - © / Shortlist

JD Clockadale is a Partner of Speechworks, a communication and selling skills coaching company based in Atlanta. He holds aBachelor's of Mechanical Engineering and MBA from Georgia Teach and works with several small and large AEC firms across the United States. If you’re interested in helping your team members speak simply about complex things, visit
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