Categorized | Management

5 Ways Project Managers Can Improve Their Presentation Skills

Aside from planning, managing resources and organizing, communications is one of those skills required from a project manager. After all, you’ll need the ability to get one’s point across, relay instructions, engage team members and inspire cooperation– tasks that require sharp communication skills for effective project management.

Presentation Skills: Why They Are Necessary
From gaining approvals from management, engaging team members to secure support and cooperation, presenting status reports to the board and to clients, and unveiling the project to key partners and the general public, the ability to make effective presentations is crucial to the survival of any project. In all of this, you need to be engaging, effective and powerful.

Here are five ways project managers can improve their presentation skills to ensure maximum engagement, effectiveness and power.

1. Know your audience and know your purpose. A presentation to the board of directors is not necessarily conducted in the same manner as one to team members or third-party suppliers. Recognize what it is you are presenting– this will inform the structure of your information, the tone, verbiage, even your demeanor and body language during the presentation.

What exactly do you want to achieve? Are you trying to secure approvals on costs? Raise morale? Sell a dream? Not only will the information contained in your presentation be different, the manner in which the presentation is conducted will be different too. There will be temptation to use the same generic presentation over and over– avoid it. The results are worth the added preparation.

2. Plan your presentation as you would plan your project. Clarify your objectives– make them clear, specific, measurable and achievable within the framework. Remember to allocate resources wisely– in this case, the main resource is time. Stick to schedule.

Plan for contingencies and manage risks. Anticipate various concerns and interests, allowing (and minimizing) risk of confrontation or worse, derailment, Eliminate the risk of boredom, impatience and loss of engagement. And most of all, encourage participation for key personnel– in this case, the audience.

3. Avoid death by Powerpoint. Avoid great walls of text that cause your audience to lose interest. Up to 50 percent of all information is absorbed and retained through visual means, so you will need to design your presentation accordingly– make sure your presentation is interspersed with interesting visuals, and add points that require audience participation if possible. Remember– Powerpoint is only a tool of the presentation– not the presentation itself.

4. Own the stage. Contrary to public perception (and much as you may be loathe to admit) presentations are only, at most, 75% about content. In fact, it may even be less. Most of it is about you. Yes, you.

How you carry yourself through the presentation is key– your voice, your body language and your appearance play a big part in influencing the outcome of your presentation. Test your voice’s quality and volume in advance if possible to ensure that you are heard. Remember that nonverbal cues – posture, involuntary facial expressions, mannerisms– can be absorbed by the audience as well. Dress the part– whether you’re presenting to executives or the labor force, make sure your attire is suitable for the audience and the occasion.

5. Practice. Yes, practice. You know what that means– just do it!

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