As a project or program manager, you will give a lot of presentations from progress status reports to business cases. And there will be times when your project has hit a snag and you will be asked tough questions from executives. To help, here are some presentation tips and tricks to keep you in control and show the audience you on top of the project. Table the Analysis
Trying to analyze a large issue in a presentation will take you down a rat hole that can be hard to get out of and end up taking the whole meeting. Instead of going down this rat hole, let the audience know that they asked a great question and deserves the type of analysis that can't be done during this meeting. If appropriate, ask if anyone in the room would like to attend that analysis. Keeping the presentation on track is one of your most important responsibilities.
Repeat and Rephrase (tough questions)
As a Project or Program Manager, you will be asked a lot of tough questions and some bordering on hostile. To give you time to answer, you can repeat the question along the lines of "Great question, John asked if <question>". Now, if the question is inflammatory, the last thing you want to do is repeat what the person said. Instead, shift eye contact to someone else and rephrase the question in a more reasonable way. If a stakeholder snaps, "Why was the last build release a complete disaster?", you want to shift eye contact and say "The question is, what steps were taken in the last build release?". After answering, do not return to the person that asked the question as this only empowers them to push further.
Speak up and Slow it down
Speaking loudly and clearly projects brings confidence to the presentation. When you speak, do not go too fast. Pause between each point and take a breath. It will feel slow to you, but will look natural to the audience. And do not say 'umm' between the pauses. Keep the pauses silent.
Don't read your slides
You might as well put a huge sign around your neck that you do not grasp the content of what you are talking about. Your slides should be a combination of bullet points and graphs that you can speak about in your words. A good approach is to read each bullet point first and then and then talk through each one as you look at the audience.
Make Eye Contact
Do not stare at the ground or presentation the entire time. Move eye contact with the entire audience. If you have a large audience, make contact with all the sections. You should spend no more than 2 seconds looking at a person and then moving on. This engages the audience and reduces potential hostility.
Use body language
Using your hands and body can really emphasize a point you are trying to make. If you are not comfortable with this, keep your hands to your sides. What you do not want to do is clench your hands together as that will increase any anxiety you might have. That is why it is recommended not to keep your hands together.
Follow these presentation tips, tricks, and guidelines (coupled with practice) and you will be owning your presentations in no time!