How to deliver an awesome presentation as a project manager?

Suppose, you get a call from your boss in which you get the task to deliver a 15-minute presentation to senior management on your project status in a coming week. How will you feel? Pressurize and stressed? Do not worry, it happens most of the time with the majority of project managers as we already said that communication irrespective of the matrix is a foremost part of your job.

Delivering a presentation itself is an art where expectations are high from the presenter. For instance, you give a presentation to achieve something very important and if you do not deliver it effectively than expected outcome won’t be what you thought. Let me put the simple ways to deliver an awesome presentation as project manager.

There is a generic rule to deliver anything in the world. Like anything you need to accomplish, you must follow below cycle of the process:

  • Prepare
  • Deliver
  • Feedback

Let’s divide the topic “deliver an awesome presentation as project manager” in three above steps.

Prepare for delivering an awesome presentation

There is a saying in formal project management community that, “for smooth execution of any project, the project manager has to invest his/her lot of time in planning phase”. Similarly, any awesome deliverable like attractive presentation requires great effort & time in preparation.

First, you have to decide the expectations. If you are invited to present something like we discussed in the opening paragraph, you have to find the expectations of your senior managers and mold your further proceedings accordingly. But if it is you who are inviting others to listen, you have to set the expectations of invitees and take care that you do not waste their precious time. In both cases, expectations need to be defined clearly so in step three “feedback” you will be able to measure the effectiveness of your presentation.

Secondly, you have to think about your audience. Who is going to receive your presentation? Customers? Directors of your organization? Or just your team? Finding the audience will help you to set the right tone for a presenter. For example, there was a huge delay in one of the tasks of your project and you as a project manager has to explain the impacts of that delay. In this case, if participants of your presentation are customer or directors of your organization, you cannot just announce the delay and briefly tell the impacts. Instead, you must come up with some alternative strategies to minimize that impacts so the focus on your customer or directors can move from problem to a solution.

Thirdly, decide the format of your presentation. Will it be a slideshow or flip chart? Whatever it is, it must comply with two factors. For example, you choose to go with the slideshow, consider having a one-liner bullet in big font instead of writing stories on a small canvas. Additionally, we advise you to keep the end in the mind while preparing the presentation as Stephen Covey described as a critical habit in his famous book. It will allow you keep things aligned with your objective in the slideshow.

Lastly, you have to manage small things as an arranger. Let us describe most of the basic preparations tasks in following lists.

  • A formal invite in advance to the participants so everyone can block their calendar. You also need to follow up each individual to accept the invite to ensure the attendance.
  • If you are invited to other’s meeting to present something, you need to ensure your calendar block so you do not miss or over commit anything else on same time.
  • How are you going to give the presentation? Will it be a slide show, flip chart or you going to use your tablet?
  • Are you expecting the audience to participate in any part of the presentation? If yes, how they going to do it? They should know in opening part of your presentation.
  • Which tools are you going to need? Notes, pointer, or speaker? Often all such tools require administrative approvals so it is better to plan these in advance.

Deliver an awesome presentation

So the final day has come and you are in the conference room. The audience has also been settled at their places and now waiting you to kick off the presentation. Now if you have worked hard in preparing the presentation, usually delivering part should not bring the stress.

It is very important to understand that preparing and delivering a presentation are different things and have their own demands in skills. Most of the famous public speakers hire a professional individual and sometimes full team to just prepare their presentation or speeches. But it can be acceptable if you are a professional public speaker and earns money from that. It won’t be viable for you as a project manager to hire even an associate to help you.

After devoting a lot of time to experts and Google, we believe following are the most powerful tips that can be utilized to deliver an awesome presentation.

  • If location allows, try to deliver your presentation in standing position. It allows the presenter to show the authority and shine confidence.
  • Keep your audience engaged. Do not consider this point only for motivational speeches. Keeping engaged the audience does not necessarily means that you have to go crazy and making irrelevant exercises. It just asks you to keep your audience engaged according to the situation. For instance, you can ask the question or opinion of someone and put comments from other peoples.
  • Ensure your body language is right and definition of “right” for us to have a smile on face and eye contact with the audience. Do not focus on few people only, make eye contact with everyone.
  • Since you are delivering a presentation as a project manager so keep time & scope management in mind. Remember the end you thought in your mind to achieve the objective from this presentation and control things accordingly. For instance, if the audience is getting away from the main agenda, it is your ethical duty to bring them back and highlight the focus of the session. Similarly, you don’t need to entertain irrelevant questions so can finish the presentation in given time.

Feedback on an awesome presentation

When a famous motivational speaker delivers a speech, he usually will take feedback to improve his next attempt on the same topic with a different audience. But when a project manager delivers a presentation so he must get the feedback for:

  • Either audience got the whole presentation rightly? It can be ensured by asking cross questions or opinions to avoid any gaps or misunderstanding.
  • Either audience including presenter got their action items or decisions? Ensure this by highlighting all such items at the end and later write on minutes to make it formal.
  • Lastly, in the shorter loop of the audience, the project manager can take feedback regarding his/her abilities to present for improving the right attempt.

Let’s face it that giving the presentation is challenging and when you do it as a project manager it becomes more challenging and stressful. We trust that above simple effective steps to deliver an awesome presentation as project manager will help you in your jobs. If you have any suggestions or questions please do not hesitate to use the following section of comments.