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Wednesday, 05 November 2014 01:08

Professionally Speaking

Professionally Speaking

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that seem right? That means to the average person, if you have to go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Some of the most informed people in the workplace have difficulty conveying their ideas because of fear. It has become mandatory in most places of business that presentation skills are required to communicate to others. In general, we admire presenters who are inviting, engaging and informative. Although it can be intimidating to give a presentation, even to peers you interact with throughout the workday, it is not as difficult as is perceived.

Public speaking offers a great opportunity to convey thoughts, to teach, to convince and to enlighten. This holds regardless of whether the presenter is presenting a research paper to scientists at a national meet, or a budget proposal to a senior executive’s group.

Planning

Centered in this fear factor is not knowing how to present a topic. There are a couple of frameworks that can provide a means to break down the information so that it makes sense and is easy for the listener to understand.

One is the four W’s (why, who, what and where) and the one H (how). This is critical to any presentation. The presenter should know the kind and the number of audience attending his presentation (Who). It is also a good idea to know the culture and background of the audience so that there is less of a chance of them to misunderstand or, worse case, be offended by a remark.

What is the purpose of the presentation? Is it to explain a plan or project; to tell people what to do - and how; report some event; get support for an idea; define or solve a problem; gain consensus for a decision; provide training; or encourage and motivate? Every presentation has a purpose and the presenter should be aware of it. Presentations could be used to motivate, inform or advertise. The presenter should know which category his work falls into.

Why are they here? Most often people attend presentations not because they want to but because they have been deputed to. Hence, their query, “What’s in it for me?” The presenter must therefore have a definite purpose for his talk. The venue of the presentation is another significant aspect of a presentation. So are the acoustics of the room.

The second framework is known as the 3 “T”’s: Tell them what you are going to tell them, Tell them, and then Tell them what you told them. This is a simple framework that describes the opening, body and conclusion.

The opening should set the stage for the presentation at a high level. It should describe what the major topic is all about but should be very brief, no more than a short paragraph; enough to get the listener interested. The body is the detailed information and can be constructed to build upon the previous topics within the body. For short presentations there should be no more than three main topics in the body. This helps the presenter to be concise and easily move from one point to the next. The conclusion can be very similar content to the opening and is used to reinforce what the presentation was about.

Practice

A presentation must be well rehearsed. Practicing also allows the presenter to be more at ease and confident in the material. It is a good idea not to read verbatim from handheld notes, or handouts. However, if the content is pretty technical, note cards with brief “reminders” could be used as a cue for helping to remember information about the topic. The presenter should know the content well enough to establish constant eye contact with the audience. This helps connect with the audience and establishes a relationship. This will make him appear knowledgeable, friendly. If note cards are used, looking at them briefly is acceptable but not as optimal in maintaining credibility.

Performing

A good presentation has a clear opening and a perhaps an icebreaker such as a story, interesting statement or fact, joke, quotation, or an activity for warm up. The introduction is based on an objective, that is, the purpose or goal of the presentation. This amply prepares the audience, as they know what to expect. A presentation should be organized for maximum impact. A strong opening, a logical body, and conclusion will direct the audience through a journey. Finally, the audience should feel that the presenter has delivered what he promised.

The beginning

Grab the attention of the audience

Take into account those who may be arriving late or having side conversations with their neighbor. Begin the presentation after the audience has settled down and begin with a solid opening statement.

Present a structure

Give the audience an idea of what will be covered. This is where a well-constructed opening can help the speaker get engaged with the audience. Let the audience know the duration. The presenter should also briefly talk of how he plans to proceed with the presentation. The audience will know what to expect and will concentrate on the material.

Create a rapport

The presenter must create a relationship with the audience at the beginning. If the presenter can get the audience at the opening, it will be easier for them to stay interested.

Visual aids

No one would want to listen to someone talk endlessly. Appealing visuals also arouse the interest of the audience.

Visual aids could be in the form of powerpoint presentations or graphics of some kind. If more sophisticated technology is used, the speaker must make sure everything operates as expected. There are many terrific presentations that have been ruined because of technical difficulties. In most cases it is best to keep it as simple as possible.

If the presentation is intended to teach the audience, it is a good idea to distribute handouts in the beginning. If an audience member would like to take notes they can write it directly on the handout for easier recall. The sequence though must be maintained so there is less of a chance the shuffling of paper could disrupt the presentation. The speaker should remember to talk to the audience not to the visual aids!

Humor

The set piece joke can work very well, but it can also lead to disaster. Apt anecdotes/jokes must be chosen, at no point should any member of the audience be offended. That rules out all racist, sexist and snide jokes. Amusing asides are equally useful in relieving the seriousness.

The ending

This can be the most important part of the presentation. Not only does it summarize the important points, it reinforces what was covered. It can also build to a “call for action” which can encourage the audience to use what was presented. Audiences seldom forget powerful conclusions, so planning it is critical since the presenter is leaving them with significant information.

As with the beginning, it may necessary get their attention. A way to do this is to introduce a change of pace, a new visual aid or perhaps the introduction of a final culminating idea. Some speakers end with a summary of the points but don’t “telegraph it” by stating “In conclusion….”. They will get the idea once you begin the conclusion. The ending can be motivational, challenging, thoughtful, or a reiteration of a point.

Post Mortem

Once the presentation is completed, the presenter should honestly evaluate his performance. This provides a basis for improvement and confirming successful points for the presenter. Surveys can be requested or recording the presentation for later review (which can be a scary thing!) is a great way to get a sense for the success of the presentation.



At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com.



Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 27 March 2007 08:43

Calling All Team Members

One week after the very bumpy implementation of the new sales management system, all implementation team members were invited to a lessons learned session. In the invitation from the Director of Project Management was an assurance that the purpose of the meeting was truly to capture lessons learned for future implementations. In spite of this, most attendees were apprehensive.

Published in Blogs
Sunday, 18 February 2007 19:31

9 Benefits of a Project Schedule

The Value of a Project Schedule: "Failing to plan means planning to fail".In my mind, that sums it up.  But this article will focus on providing some more detailed benefits.Contrary to what you might be thinking, this article is NOT some type of promotion for the use of Microsoft Project.  As a matter of fact, your schedule could be developed on a napkin, providing you (and your team) develop it, and manage with it!!
Published in Blogs
Saturday, 27 January 2007 16:53

Performance Reporting

PERFORMANCE REPORTING

Performance reporting involves six things:

  • Status reports How’s the project right now?
  • Progress reports How complete is the project? How much more work remains?
  • Forecasting Will this project end on schedule? Will the project be on budget? How much longer will this project take? And how much more money will this project need to finish?
  • Scope How is the project meeting the project scope?
  • Quality What are the results of quality audit, testing, and analysis?
  • Risks What risks have come into the project and what has been their affect on the project?

The goal of performance reporting - The purpose of reporting is to share information regarding the project performance with the appropriate stakeholders. Performance reporting is done on a regular schedule.

  • Performance reports - These are the results and summation of the project performance analysis. The Communications Management Plan will detail the type of report needed based on the conditions within the project, the timing of the communication, and the demands of the project stakeholder.
  • Change requests - Results of performance may prompt change requests to some area of the project. The change requests should flow into the change control system for consideration and approval or denial.

 

Forecasts - Have a basic understanding of Forecasts. Forecasts are updated and reissued based on work performance information provided as the project is executed. This information is about the project’s past performance that could impact the project in the future, for example, estimate at completion and estimate to complete.

Communicating change - Performance reports and change requests are an input to the following Change Control Processes:

  • Integrated Change Control
  • Scope Change Control
  • Schedule Change Control
  • Cost Change Control

 

Note: The project plan is one of the key inputs to performance reporting. The project plan contains the WBS, the project scope and requirements, and other documentation that can be used to measure project progress and performance. Other inputs to performance reporting are the work results. Work results can be examined and measured for quality, time spent completing the work, and the monies required to complete the work results. The work results, as progress reports or completion of work results, can be measured against the estimates and expectations to reveal variances. The Communications Management Plan will detail how values are measured, for example EVM, and at what point variances call for communications to the appropriate stakeholders. The last inputs to performance reporting are other project records, such as memos, product description, and other information relevant to the project. For example, a customer may request project status updates every quarter, regardless of where the project is in its timeline. Or a project may have multiple vendors whose contracts require differing levels and types of reporting from the project staff. This is a communication requirement that would be in the Communications Management Plan.

 

 

 

 

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 27 January 2007 16:27

Project Communications

Common sense and your own experience will play a large role in your ability to answer the questions on this topic.

Communication Processes defined: Communication is the link between people, ideas, and information. Project Communications Management includes four processes:

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 25 January 2007 19:25

Critical Path

The critical path is the longest path to completion in the network diagram. Activities on the critical path have no Slack or Float. The Project Time Management questions on the exam focus heavily on critical path method (CPM), and diagramming methods; the differences between these techniquees; and the appropriate circumstances for their use.

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 25 January 2007 19:16

Activity Duration Estimating

Duration includes the actual amount of time worked on an activity plus the elapsed time.

Effort is the number of workdays or work hours required to complete a task. Effort does not normally equal duration. People doing the work should help create estimates, and the PM should review them. Duration estimating is assessing the number of work periods (hours, days, weeks,) likely to be needed to complete each activity. Duration estimates always include some indication of the range of possible results, for example, 2 weeks + or – 2 days or 85% probability that the activity will take less than 3 weeks. Activity Duration Estimating:

Published in Blogs
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