It is inevitable that at some time during your project you will be called upon to make a presentation on project progress to a steering committee, group of senior managers or even your Stakeholders.
The prospect of this can be daunting but with patience and practice it is a learnable skill.
The presentation is a key opportunity in the life of a project to engage, inspire and gain project and personal credibility - yet an area which is often noted as very time consuming, stressful and a significant distraction from working on the project.
A common mistake is to spend long hours on PowerPoint slides and little or no time on delivery preparation and practice. The most impressive slides will not rescue a poor performance.
Unconsciously, members of an audience are asking the following questions:
- What am I doing here?
- What will I get out of listening to this talk?
- What will the presenter say that can help me?
The secret of a good presenter is to hook into what an audience wants from the presentation and give it to them.
You must answer the - "What's in it for me?"
How you demonstrate the ability to take control of the “room” dictates how competent you appear. By simply appearing to be in control, you can positively influence the audience perception of you and your capability. So keep your back straight and shoulders down when presenting, maintain eye contact without staring and be prepared to move calmly into the audience to emphasize points.
Stories – forget business speak and jargon and fancy PowerPoint, tell it like a story and then let this story unfold each time you communicate with them – even sit amongst them for part of the presentation like a story teller or get them to move their chairs into a circle. You could even find a real printed fable/myth/story to open with and draw parallels and lessons with. Pull them into the characters – e,g them, the parts they play, the unknowns yet to be discovered, the questions and cliff hangers.
Step out from the script – show your feelings, if you are enthusiastic and it is appropriate show it. People are so used to the standard floor show that they all merge into one. Make them feel that something is at stake and is worth their focus.
Keep regular eye contact with those people on the limit of your peripheral vision, this will keep them engaged and simply by slowly “sweeping” your vision from one to the other with keep everyone else engaged too!
Click here for more information on our Advanced Project Management: The People Matter workshop where one of the topics covered is powerful presentations.