While every group (and every project for that matter) is unique,
certain tasks seem to present themselves no matter what the
particular group's assigned project is.
The following group project task list offers a suggested
order for approaching a project. It's certainly possible to
do these steps in a different order if you wish. But taking
the time to accomplish each step will help you produce better
It's also likely that you'll have to go back and forth between
steps. In other words, your group may decide that it needs
to repeat one or more of these steps in order to correct deficiencies
that become apparent after the group thinks that it has "finished"
one part of its preparation.
GROUP PROJECT TASK LIST
STEP #1: ORIENTATION
Group members need to learn who everyone is -- exchange names,
phone numbers, addresses, etc. and keep a record of this information.
Discuss what the group is expected to do -- don't assume
requirements of the group project are clear to everyone. More
than not, people are not always sure about what the group
is expected to do.
STEP #2: DIVISION OF LABOR
Divide the project up into a series of smaller steps or parts.
Put the parts of the project into a time sequence -- in what
order must each step or part of the project be done?
Agree on a time table -- when must each part of the project
Agree on who is responsible for each part of the project.
Agree on what each person must PRODUCE for their part of
the project by the agreed upon deadline. BE SPECIFIC -- everyone
in the group must agree to turn in something tangible to the
group at a stated time.
Agree about what to do if people in the group "get behind"
and won't be able to meet a deadline.
Agree upon a schedule of meetings -- most groups think all
they need to do is divide up the work, meet five minutes before
the presentation, and "whip it together." You can
do it this way, but the approach rarely works!
STEP #3. ASSESSMENT
Use some of your group meetings to review what members have
accomplished up to that point.
Have group members provide feedback about each other's work
-- is the material provided by the member what the group needs,
is something missing, what else needs to be done?
Set new expectations and deadlines as appropriate -- group's
usually discover as the project moves along that the original
time table and division of group member responsibilities needs
to be modified. Take the time to do that so that the work
doesn't all pile up at the end.
Pay attention to possible gaps in the group's work -- are
there important topics or tasks that the group is overlooking?
STEP #4. PRESENTATION PLANNING
Once the research on the project is fairly far along, the
group needs to turn its attention to the question of HOW to
orally present the material the group gathered. MANY GROUPS
MAKE THE MISTAKE OF WANTING TO TALK ABOUT THE PLAN FOR THE
PRESENTATION TOO SOON. Wait until the group has a pretty good
idea of what they'll be talking about.
Decide on a presentation topic
Determine who will serve as the presentation moderator
Decide on audio/visual aids for the presentation
Make decisions about physical arrangements for the presentation
Work to improve delivery skills of the group members
Reprinted with permission from Ron St. John
University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department