Using our guidelines for the best practices for project management presentations will give you the confidence you need to get across the finish line and win the day.
Many a project manager would prefer to keep their head down and plugging ahead, rather than stand before a group of stakeholders and give a project rundown. But sooner or later, you’re bound to get this request and using the following tips will make the process less painful.
- Know your audience. In order to tailor your message to the needs and interests of your audience, you have to know who they are. Are you giving an accounting to other department heads in order to determine future resources required? Or, are you giving a detailed report to a large group of stakeholders, some of whom may be coming from outside the company? This information not only dictates what you will cover, but how you will present it–think casual versus formal.
- Create a concise agenda. Outline the purpose, scope, and key objectives of your presentation. This forms the basis of your agenda and will give you a framework to follow as you develop your presentation. A concise agenda makes clear to participants the subject parameters for the talk and helps to keep you on track as you speak.
- Use visuals. How will you present information? Will you prepare a slide presentation for your laptop or use a white board to write as you go? Be sure to include elements such as charts, graphs, and diagrams to help make complex information more accessible and understandable.
- Brand your presentation. Take a page out of the marketing handbook and be consistent with style and format throughout your presentation. Not only does it make it easier for the audience to follow along, subconsciously, it evokes a feeling of quality and authority. Think about what font(s) you’ll use that are appropriate and easy to read at a distance. Make sure the lettering is large enough to see in the back of the venue. Use the same colors, bullet point criteria, and layouts (if using slides) throughout the presentation. Keep visuals clean and simple.
- Practice. Practice your presentation until you feel comfortable speaking while using your props. Have family or friends listen and give you feedback. Try to anticipate questions your audience may have or additional information they may request so you can respond immediately. Have a prepared response for questions you cannot readily answer. If possible, practice in the room where you’ll be presenting, using the equipment you’ll use that day.
- Prepare for the worst. Things go wrong sometimes, despite the best laid plans. So, prepare for contingencies, especially if you’re presenting in someone else’s space. For example, have a print-out of your slides, just in case the laptop stops working or there’s problem with the connection. You do not want to waste the valuable time of your stakeholders futzing around with technology issues.
- Watch the clock. Everyone is busy, and some of them might hate taking time out of their day to attend this presentation as much as you might hate giving it. So, stick to your allotted time frame and follow the agenda! Venturing off-topic or including unnecessary information will detract from your main message and frustrate your participants.
- Use storytelling. People are hardwired to remember stories, not stats. To make your presentation more memorable, try to find a way to incorporate storytelling techniques to engage your audience.
- Don’t forget to summarize. You’ll want to provide a summary of your presentation to reinforce the key takeaways. Also, if applicable, listing the next steps at the end encourages action.
- Ask for feedback. Request feedback from your audience so that you can continuously improve your presentation skills, whether that has to do with your speaking style or the physical presentation of the information.
- Keep an Open Mind. To improve your skills as a presenter, you should be open to learning and adapting your approach. One size doesn’t fit all. To be as effective as possible, learn to adapt your style to fit the situation and audience. Audience feedback is crucial to this process.
Proper preparation is the key to a successful presentation. Use the tips above and you can’t go wrong.
Some people may need more time than others to be comfortable with the actual presenting, but that will come with time. As long as you’re well prepared, it’s not likely you’ll disappoint.