6 Steps to Team Competition Excellence

As we gear up for another year of DECA competitions some, teams are coming together for the first time while others are trying to work the kinks out from last year.

When you’re competing as a team at DECA there are some key steps you’ll want to take to reach excellence.

1. Dress

The first thing a judge will notice about your team is the way you’re dressed. You will want to make sure that you’re not only dressed professionally, but also dressed as a team. This doesn’t mean you all should look like identical twins, but you should be coordinating appropriately. Try wearing matching shirts, tie colors, suit colors, or a color palate that will help you appear more cohesive to the judges.

2. Personalities

If you’re picking out a new teammate or working with one you’ve competed with in the past there is a big issue that doesn’t get addressed too often – your personalities! This will play a big part during the actual presentation and you don’t want to go the wrong route. I always like saying, “match your personality with your teammate.” If one of the team members comes off too strong while the other isn’t able to get to that level, your team will be tilted. Talk with your partner to figure out their pitching style and figure out together how to match styles. When you’re able to come together your team will present as one unit, and not as two individuals trying to grind it out.

3. Opens

The opening statement of a presentation may seem like a small part, but it is the second thing the judges will notice about your team. So when coaching new teams at our chapter I always like to ask, “who opens the door?” Figure out which of your team members has the best open and run with it. This will help set the scene for your presentation and can boost the points you receive in the end.

4. Segues

This is one of the biggest parts I like to practice prior to competing. My partner Landon and I have trained ourselves to creatively pitch the presentation back and forth between us. Always make sure to set up your partner before it is their turn to talk. Doing this will make the presentation flow smoothly and the judges will appreciate it.

5. Dividing Up the Work

The question that always seems to pop up during training is, “How do we decide who does what work?” From my experience, you shouldn’t split up the work but work together to create the general idea for your presentation. From this you will be able add in the creative bits and pieces to the sections you’re covering. Always make sure to talk with your partner during these times because you don’t want to cover the same item multiple times. It’s like building a house; once the framework is done you can each take sections and build away!

6. Questions

The last part of your presentation will consist of the judge’s questions for you and your teammates. Since you cannot anticipate what questions you will receive, it is imperative you develop a plan to handle this situation. One of your partners may have the perfect answer, but if you jump on the question first, they won’t get to display their expertise. The system my partner Landon and I have developed for this situation is called hands. When we get to the part of the presentation where the judges will ask questions, both of us take our hands off the table. After the question is asked, if one of us feels they know the answer, they will put a hand on the table, signaling to the other that they have this one. For situations where we both put our hands on the table, or if neither of us do, we have created a plan to handle those as well.

Working in a team is an incredible experience, but can be challenging at times. Using these six tips, you can streamline your planning and execution process so both you and your teammates have an enjoyable experience and hopefully, a successful outcome!

Follow Jacob on Twitter @DECA_JacobWard.

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