5 Ways Project Managers Can Improve Their Presentation Skills

It is imperative for project managers to have effective communication and presentation skills. This is because how you present your project and your ideas to decision makers create an impression of yourself and establish your credibility as a project manager early on. Regardless of the purpose of your presentation, you will know you made an excellent presentation when you’ve made an impact on your audience.

1. Be prepared. Your preparation can mean the difference between a good presentation and an excellent project presentation. Give yourself ample time to research your product or project as well as your audience and your competition. In depth knowledge will help you formulate answers and rebuttals in a way that will give value to your audience. Most importantly, knowing and understanding your audience will help you build rapport and catch their interest; making it easier for you to relate to them and vice versa.

As part of your preparation, learn how to use your tools and props to avoid awkward pauses in the middle of the presentation. Use notes with outlines of your key points to keep you from losing track of the ideas you want to convey.

2. Set proper expectations. When you give your audience an insight on what you are going to discuss, you are getting them in tune to what you wish to achieve with your presentation. The best time to do this is during your opening. You are subconsciously directing their minds not to stray to different topics but to focus on what you have to say.

3. Engage the audience and keep it interesting. Adults have short attention spans. If your audience finds your presentation uninteresting, you will soon lose their interest and ruin your chance of getting a positive outcome. If you are using PowerPoint in your presentation, use images that tell a story and keep texts in the slides to a minimum. Use bullet points and not whole sentences. Take time to pause and ask your audience a few questions every now and then, making sure you establish eye contact when you do. Walk around the podium or switch positions to avoid coming off as robotic and stiff.

4. Practice, practice, practice. Your goal is not to memorize your presentation but to muster the flow of ideas, gestures and your timing. Watching your presentation on video is one of the most effective ways of evaluating yourself. Watch for your pace, timing, facial expression, movement and body language. Watch out for areas for improvements and work on sounding more natural and less tensed. Rehearsing in front of peers will help you get a feel of what it’s like to present in front of a crowd.

5. Enjoy. Whether you are pitching to request for additional funds or are aiming to close an event organizing project, it is important to stay confident and enjoy the moment. Enjoying doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make your audience laugh with jokes and antics. It could simply mean giving your audience a positive experience by smiling and staying positive. It is important to remember that your composure is equally important to the information you are presenting. Staying positive in a stressful environment makes it easier for your audience to ease up to the idea that you’re selling them.