Not a member? Join here

Focus, focus, focus on what’s Essential for Success

pmo project management ruffin veal iii May 25, 2022
Focus, focus, focus on what’s Essential for Success

Welcome to this edition of the ProjectTalk newsletter. When managing our projects we strive to be as efficient and productive as possible. This means avoiding unnecessary activities, effort and tangents which result in a loss of time, energy and productivity. In each phase and aspect of our Project Life Cycle we want to focus on what’s essential. 

This issue will “trim the fat and remove the fluff” as I discuss the essential steps in managing a project, improving your presentation skills and managing to-do lists. We’ve all had experiences with all three and at the time wished we were aware of more guidelines on handling the challenges involved. Keep these essentials in mind the next time those challenges arise.


Essential Project Managing Steps

There is so much to learn to become a great project manager. You have to juggle time, money, people, equipment and materials. To do it all, some people feel like they have to be a miracle worker! But it's not the case. Just take these essential steps...

Initiate Carefully

When you start your project, wind it up slowly. Define the process by which you're going to manage your project from start to finish. Adopt a Project Life Cycle so you know what you have to do and by when. Then take these steps:

  1. Define the project goals, timeline and schedule
  2. Quantify the amount of resources you need
  3. Specify the project scope and deliverables
  4. Decide if you need to outsource to a supplier
  5. Recruit your team and set up a project office

Plan in Depth

Then identify all of the tasks needed to complete your project. Prioritize them and calculate how long each will take. Create a detailed project schedule, so you know what you have to do, when and how. Then take these steps:

  1. Identify the number of resources you need
  2. Set a budget and plan your expenditure
  3. List the deliverables and set quality targets
  4. Plan your communications so everyone is informed
  5. Decide how you are going to manage risks, changes and issues

Execute Swiftly

The next step is to execute your plan quickly and efficiently. This is the longest phase in the project, so you need to work smart to complete this phase on time. Take these steps:

  1. Record time spent by your team completing tasks
  2. Frequently check your actual vs. planned progress
  3. If you start falling behind, take action or get help
  4. Resolve risks, issues and changes quickly
  5. Keep your team motivated by rewarding good performance

Close and learn

When you've produced all of your deliverables and handed them over to your sponsor or customer, you're ready for closure. Do this by releasing project staff, contractors, suppliers and equipment. Then close your project office and handover documentation. Take the time to identify your lessons learned, as these will be invaluable to your next project.

Essential Presentation Steps

At some point in your career, you will have to stand up and present to a room full of people. And when you do, you'll find that it's not as easy as it looks. So to help you do it, read these tips and hints to...

Prepare with care

To give a great presentation, you need great preparation. Start, by thinking about your topic and the audience and what they are most interested in. Then list your key points and write down the general structure of the presentation ahead.

If you need to, write down every word that you want to say and memorize it. Experienced presenters don't need to do this. But if you're a little nervous or you're new to presenting, then by writing everything down it will boost your confidence and settle your nerves on the day.


On the day

Take these 5 tips to give a fresh, vibrant presentation:

  1. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand. Eat a healthy breakfast and try and free your schedule, so you're more relaxed going into it.
  2. Before you present, spend 15 minutes going over your presentation.
  3. Then concentrate on your breathing for 2 minutes. This focuses your thoughts, relaxes you and gets rid of any nerves.
  4. Remember, the open and close of your presentation are the most important parts. So put in extra effort here, to make it memorable.
  5. If you forget something or make a mistake, then never stop and apologize. Keep going and try and relax. It will soon be forgotten.

Body Language

It's said that 80% of a successful presentation is about body language, and only 20% is about content. So use these top tips to communicate the right message through your body:

  1. Make eye contact with people at all times. Never stare at the ceiling or back of the room as you present, unless the nerves are too much.
  2. Appear confident. Use an open stance, stand tall and proud. Smile and let your personality shine. Don't be overly formal.
  3. Remember that relaxed body language conveys honesty and openness. So walk around a little and make use of props to hold onto.
  4. Vary your voice and use slow, open hand gestures. Never have your hands in your pocket or play with a pen. Move your hands to an open position and then pause for effect.
  5. Speak slowly and carefully, but passionately. If you're enthusiastic about the topic, then your listeners will be as well.

Spark Interaction

Encourage interaction with others during your presentation. By having others talk for a few seconds, it takes the focus off you temporarily, to let you clear your head and focus on the key points ahead. Another trick to clear your head is to pause while your team are reading a slide or considering key points you've just mentioned.

Remember, public speaking is one of the hardest things to master. But if you prepare carefully, take it slowly on the day and are enthusiastic about it, then you will deliver a powerful presentation to your colleagues