Speaking in a double act

Public speaking tips tick

I have recently been offered the chance to speak as part of a ‘double act’. Speaking as one half of a partnership throws up all sorts of interesting points that speakers need to be aware of for a successful two-man speech.

I’ve come up with three points below that speakers who are talking as part of a double act in a business setting should consider. Interestingly, they all centre on giving the greatest value to your audience, which should ALWAYS be your primary objective!

Roles – each half of the duo should know what their responsibilities are and why their speech content is important.

It must also be remembered that the audience needs to understand the role of each speaker too – clearly sign post for your audience which areas of the speech or talk each person will cover right from the start.

Handovers – most of us probably have a memory from our early schooling in which a group or class are asked to perform a story or play and each member of the class reads a line aloud each.

This is fine when you are four years old, but it is unlikely to impress anyone in a business presentation or speech. Make sure that each speaker has clear, relevant sections of the speech to avoid confusing your audience with constant chopping and changing of speakers!

When you do handover, state that you are passing the speaking baton back to your partner and sign post for your audience what they are going to talk about using a quick sentence or two.

It’s not a competition – there is nothing more frustrating than being an audience member watching two speakers who are battling to impress over one another. Your objective is to give value to your audience. If you, or your partner, is likely to be trying to get one over on you, be wittier, more entertaining or put you down, then politely back away from the speaking opportunity. It will only do your credibility (and theirs) more harm than good!

Have you had a positive or negative experience as a speaker as part of a double act or group presentation? I’d love to hear about it and what you learnt from it.

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Rich Watts is the UK Business Speaker of the Year and a past JCI National Public Speaking champion. He setup and now runs Rich Public Speaking providing presentation skills and public speaking training.

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