Over the last year or so I’ve had some opportunities to pair with a few different people on sessions/presentations that we’ve been giving.
I much prefer doing this than presenting something by myself mainly because it’s much more fun and seems to encourage more participation than when I do something alone.
I feel that it’s probably easier to pair present if you both have similar opinions on the subject matter and are comfortable with a similar style of delivery.
For example Frankie and I have run a couple of sessions at ThoughtWorks University and beforehand we’ve created a rough outline of how we expect the session to play out.
Once we’ve started though both of us are quite comfortable with changing it while we’re going if that will make the session better whereas others might prefer more to the pre planned structure.
Having another person there can allow you to approach a topic in a way that is quite difficult to do alone.
About a year ago I did a talk about Functional Programming in C# with Mike Wagg and we were able to play different roles to demonstrate certain points.
He played the guy who’s predominantly in favour of OO programming but is interested in learning about functional programming while I played the guy who loves functional programming and wants to use it everywhere.
It seemed to work reasonably well.
A variation on this which Sumeet and I tried is to have one person leading the session and the other recording any questions that need to be answered later on or create a mindmap of what’s being covered in the session.
One of the dangers of pair presenting is that you can end up just having a conversation with the other person rather than talking to the audience but I think this is something that can be overcome with practice.
Preparation also becomes more difficult because you need to do at least some of it together so you both know what’s going to happen in the session.
I think that’s outweighed by the other benefits I see from pairing though.