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Next week, I'm going on a road trip to make a presentation of our current application on several places. Essentially, it well be two of us doing the presentation, but circumstances (among them, HR,...) demand to bring a third colleague with us. I think that's a good idea for team building purposes.

However, I cannot quite think about any task assigning to that third member. His personality, character and knowledge about the application to be presented don't quite suggest him presenting as well.

So my question is, which valuable task could I assign to him? I think it's important to give him the feeling that he can contribute something valuable as well.

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I find a lot of value in the non-visible tasks during an event. Focus on the logistics, smooth operation, pulling people into the booth's sphere of influence through networking, owning quality (presence, editorial, fitness, etc) for all printed materials. As somebody who speaks on behalf my company, I find a HUGE value in having somebody "looking out for me" so that I can focus on what's important. When I'm not speaking, I do that for whomever is in the light.

So, it's not "during" the presentation, but "around" the presentation that I would look for opportunities. Too many people on stage are distracting, but a well-executed event is still a team activity.

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    +1: all good suggestions. I would just add that it's worth asking this 3rd team member what THEY think they can bring to the table and how they would like to contribute. – Angeline Sep 26 '11 at 18:33
  • Thank you - we often forget to involve the people we're talking about. Do with, not for. – Eric Willeke Oct 4 '11 at 7:10
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Rather than looking for a task in order to make him feel valuable, why not use his lack of knowledge as an asset?

You could use him to get feedback on your presentation, either by running it past him before hand or by asking him to sit in the audience and make notes. He'll be able to bring a fresher perspective to your work, and get up to speed with it at the same time.

He could potentially learn more about presenting well, and maybe even pass that knowledge on to you. Books like "Slide:ology" helped me.

You've also mentioned his lack of knowledge and that his personality and character aren't suitable for presenting. What can he do? Is there a way to use his existing skills valuably?

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Who is paying for this guy to be at the presentations, the clients to whom you are presenting? If so, and (s)he is not doing anything of value AS PERCEIVED by the client, that's a risk. Will you end up outnumbering the clients' numbers? If so, that's a risk. The presence of a single individual can materially change the dynamics of a presentation / work group--sometimes for the good; other times, bad. You are at risk for the bad side, which I think is more likely. There's a good reason why we take time to determine who really needs to be at a meeting, e.g., RACI analysis, which is to maximize the benefit of these things that have a ton of risk of going south quickly.

While you are taking into consideration the suggestions from Lunivor and Eric, you might want to simultaneously examine why there is a demand for this person coming along and if there is any wiggle room to leave him/her behind. If this is a dead end, a most commonly forgotten role to which (s)he could be assigned is scribe. Documenting what happened is always good and you can immediately influence your client's perception that there is some value in his/her presence.

  • +1 for highlighting positive or negative impact on client perception. – Angeline Sep 26 '11 at 18:31

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