Tag Archives: effective project management

Want to know the secret of a great presentation?

What’s the best way to keep people interested in your presentation?

Have you got a big presentation coming up? Are you worried that your audience will think you’re boring?

Would you like to know the one thing great presenters do all the time to keep their audience interested?

The secret is a technique used by great public speakers, performers, comedians, politicians – even top salesmen.

When you give a presentation you also give a performance.  So you need to mimic the techniques used by performers.

So what is it?

Well, it’s already been used four times in this article so far. Have you spotted it? (clue – that’s the fifth appearance)

No? (that’s six)

The trick to keeping your audience engaged is to ask questions.

You don’t have to wait for the answer. But each question makes the listener subconsciously answer it for themselves  and they want to know if your answer agrees with theirs.


You can introduce questions to the driest of subject matters.

Imagine you are presenting annual sales figures.  Instead of saying “You can see here that sales rose by 10%” why not switch it round?

Try “Can you see here that sales rose by 10%?”

Your audience will pay close attention because they want to congratulate themselves that of course, they can see the increase.


Asking a question also changes the tone of your voice. It can help add variety to your tone and your pace. Your voice will naturally rise at the end of a sentence which asks a question. (go on, try it)

It’s almost impossible to present in a monotone way if you ask a few questions.

No-one expects you to be a stand-up comedian when you present. In most cases it would be wholly inappropriate. But you can watch them and see the techniques they use to get a roomful of strangers on their side.

I’d bet my house that few of them manage more than a minute on screen without asking the audience at least one question.

Watch some of the best speech makers and presenters in action.  While heavy Churchillian rhetoric is out of fashion you’ll still see some of the greats asking questions.

Of course by asking the question you give yourself the opportunity to provide the answer – the answer you want your audience to agree with – and the one you want them to remember.

Is this a powerful way to convince someone you are right? You bet.

Another benefit to asking questions during your presentation is they give you the opportunity to breathe. Sounds obvious, but many people who are giving a presentation become so nervous they forget to do the basics – like take a breath. Nerves are natural – part of the human body’s in-built survival mechanism.

Giving a presentation can be scary and it’s only natural you should feel nervous.

But you don’t want to gallop through your presentation. If you do there’s a risk your audience won’t understand what you were trying o say.

Asking questions in your text will help introduce natural sounding pauses. While you momentarily pause after your question to allow your audience time to reach their answer, you can breathe.

If you’re still nervous about presenting or want more advice on how to improve your technique you should consider taking specialist advice. Training courses on presentation skills which provide interactive sessions that allow you to practice your skills can be worth every penny. But make sure you choose a course that’s tight for you. www.skillstudio.co.uk is a good place to start.   The skills you learn will be with you for life and, because they’re transferable skills, can be applied to more situations than just presenting.

Bonfires and Fireworks

Happy Guy Fawkes to you all – not breaking with tradition I would like to tie in today’s blog to the theme of bonfire night.

Remember remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why gunpowder, treason

Should ever be forgot…

A poem brought about after Guy Fawkes was put on trial in 1606 for treason having been caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder and subsequently found guilty, which saw him hung, drawn and quartered. The poem was served as a reminder to the next generations regarding treason and the tradition has evolved with time, to include rather fantastic firework displays etc.

A powerful and emotive story which despite its age has certainly played a huge part in our lives over the years – if only we could be as effective in the workplace for lessons learned. Time and time again I have worked with project managers to programme directors who tell me stories of woe from managing pieces of work which would have greatly benefitted from the lessons learned log. This document has been either ignored / not completed or hidden away like it is a bad thing because it highlights where we went wrong. Of course it also highlights the good too but attitude seems to be that if we pretend the bad bits weren’t there now we’ve completed a project then it didn’t happen – then low and behold, history repeats itself.

Now I am not suggesting we have a bonfire and burn all the confidential waste every time we learn something but surely we are at a point where it makes sense to drag out and dust down the lessons learned log for projects similar in complexity etc. each time a new project is being scoped and particularly when it is being planned.

Here’s a poem which you could adapt for your project team:

Remember remember the project of last September

Stakeholders lost all respect,

I see no reason why lessons learned should be tossed

Or ever not be kept…

Blatantly I was never meant to be a poet but you get the idea – maybe adopting something in the office which reminds all to revisit times passed to better understand how to do things more efficiently moving forward could save a lot of time, money and energy.

4 Tips For Aspiring Fundraisers – guest blog

So you have this idea that you are passionate about, and you want to share that idea with the rest of the world.  You have all these ideas about how this idea that you are passionate about can change the world and make it a better place, but you have one small problem, and that is that you do not have any money.  Raising funds to get an idea of yours off the ground is doable, but before you go out and start your fundraising project, there are certainly some things that you need to take into consideration, and here are a few of them:

Are You Up For The Task?

Fundraising, while exciting, is a very time-consuming and tedious process, to say the least.  You will also be spending lots and lots of time and even money without seeing any money in return.  In fact, your fundraiser could be a complete flop, and all your efforts could go down the drain.  I don’t want to sound like a pessimist, but it’s important to know what you are getting yourself into.

Establish a Solid Leadership Team

Once you decide that you are willing to take the risk and invest the time and energy, you need to put together a strong, mature leadership team.  This may be one of the most vital steps in the fundraising process.  You need a team who is experienced, but more importantly a team that shares your same passion and vision.  Afterall, that is the only way you are going to find free labor.

Develop Very Specific Goals

You need goals and you need to make sure that they are clear for everyone to understand.  Developing mile markers and short term goals to achieve will help give you team a sense of accomplishment in the short-term and will help to keep morale high.  Your long term goals need to be especially clear to those that you are seeking get money from.  Anyone donating to a fundraiser is going to want to know exactly how and when their contributions are going to be applied.

Know Your Audience

Your fundraiser, no matter how properly planned, will go nowhere if it does not attract the interest of anyone with money to give.  So you need to know where to find these people.  Well, do some brainstorming.  If you are raising money to cure cancer, then ask yourself, “What are cancer survivors involved in?  Social clubs, health organizations, other fundraising venues, etc.  can be great ways to get the word out about your fundraiser.  Even organization like the Chamber of Commerce can be resources as well.

Brandon Jones enjoys writing about school fundraising companies.

Imagine there’s no email – communications planning

Back in the day before technology such as email, social networking and forums had been thoroughly adopted we were resigned to actually speaking to each other – either face to face or via telephone. I wonder if we compared success rates for project delivery to today if achievement was higher? Probably not, however I bet communications were deemed as much stronger. I am a huge fan of modern technology and it’s benefits for easy access and recorded communications however as we become busier and lazier – it is all too easy to fire off a few emails and update online activity boards without actually discussing any changes or actions required by the project team. How many times have you seen your name entered next to a piece of information or been put on copy of an email and thought; “what does that actually mean?” Our ability to interpret information varies from person to person and so a great deal of important instruction / information can also get lost in translation.

As a project manager the minimum you should be doing is making sure you speak to people, understand their workloads other commitments and ensure everyone is clear on what is required. I am not a fan of unnecessary meetings either, meetings are required but only last week I was talking with a PM from the investment management sector who was complaining that they have meetings about having meetings – this is of course a step too far.

Work out a communications plan – make sure you list everyone involved on the project with the most heavily involved at the top working down to less active members of the team. Placing priority on the more heavily involved and working out a mutually convenient way to communicate such as weekly calls / coffee and teleconferences for groups to join in is a good start. Don’t be a stranger to the team and if possible, do pop over for a coffee and chat to see where they are at with their workstream. By effectively communicating at the start of the project and building relationships – you can convince the team of your intentions to keep in touch and that you are not micro managing, explaining the need to have a transparent view of where everyone is at will help you all work together more effectively. In my first PM role I reported to a programme director who said to me, “If you tell me when things aren’t going to plan, I will have your corner. If you cover up and drop me in it then you are on your own.” You can’t say fairer than that! Encourage your team to communicate – but you can only do this if you are openly and regularly communicating yourself.