One of the most important things for a project manager is presenting their results to the board of directors: who have the power to decide the future of the enterprise.
In addition, high level management already have a preconception of projects: that they are a real headache. The technical and methodological considerations, are a completely different language to the board of directors.
For that reason, when you have to present your project results, the most important aspect is trying to talk in the appropriate language for the audience. You should try to talk to them with a business perspective, which will be of mots interest to them.
This advice has numerous applications. In our White Paper about Project-Based Management (PBM) you will find a complete model on how use PBM to collaborate with the General Management of your organization.
Advice on how to present a project
1. You should connect with the general vision of the organization
You can not present the project as something that it is idsconnected; you should present it as an important piece which will create long-term value. In some cases, for example, in an ERP implementation project, these connections are obvious: after the implementation, all the organization’s operations start being connected.
In other cases the connection is more subtle. But it exists. Even if we are talking about a construction project, the motivation for doing the project is more economical, there are so many aspects that can be highlighted positively. You may have gotten your company into the catalogue of approved suppliers of a public entity, or that the project has served as an advertising platform.
You should remember that your audience has assisted in the delivery of many projects. You should focus on what makes it different. Why executing this project could be more worthwhile than other proposals which have never been implemented? This is what you have to communicate through the presentation of the results.
To that end, it can help you to put yourself in the position of the person who manages all your enterprise projects. Would you prefer someone who explains it in a quick presentation? You should try to present solid and memorable information. In addition, you should demonstrate that you know perfectly the reasons that made you start this project and what the risks were. The idea is that you should comfort and confirm their decision: all trust that they put on your leadership and your project has been well placed.
2. You should communicate the entire project benefit – not only the financial benefit
If you only reduce the result of a project to the benefits you have achieved, you are establishing an extremely easy comparison point. Your presentation can be destroyed by itself. One example could be if one of the presenters says that your project income is lower that they have expected or that other projects have obtained higher rates of return.
It is more interesting if you present this data with other goals that the project has achieved. Some examples can be a possibly technological development which can be extended beyond the project, an international expansion, increased customer loyalty or the consolidation of this project as a model for future projects.
3. You should present your project as a source of knowledge
Executives know that one of the biggest problems with projects is that they have a similarity with Las Vegas: what happens in the project stays in the project.
You should explain that your project is a source of common knowledge, not a watertight compartment.
Into the bargain, each time that new lessons learned are brought to light, and that they can be used for future projects, they are designing future savings. If you have an enough of a solid case, you can even estimate the savings.
If your organization is open to innovation or simply that your audience likes new ideas, this section is especially interesting for your presentation. You should extract the elements of the project where you have obtained innovative or improved ideas. This way, you will be able to present this presentation as an embryo of an innovative product.
Finally, you should strive for identifying what project elements can be added to the business model. Perhaps it is a new way of negotiating with providers or a design characteristic of user design that has had an especially good application.
But the message of the presentation is not everything. If you want your managers give their full attention, you should adhere to these following pieces of advice about how present all this information.
Advice for presentation style
1. Find out the need to know information for your audience
Your presentation can be interesting, well designed, and even fun. But, if you are not providing your managers the type of data that they are expecting, it is probable that you will lose their attention, they will stop listening to you or even interrupt you with questions to find out what is more important to them.
2. You should prepare several versions of your presentation
Finding a balance between what you need to tell and what your audience wants to hear isn't so easy. It is sure that you have a couple of different ideas about how to do this.
Even with all the precautions, it is possible that some of your listeners will interrupt you because they are not interested in what you are explaining. In the case of you being given critical comments of the approach of your presentation, the best option is having a second presentation with a total different approach that will help you to regain control of the situation.
3. You should not abuse PowerPoint
If you are using PowerPoint, you should try not to make it seem like it. It is a fact that many orators have overused services such as PowerPoint, and so a lot of people in business are getting tired of listening to presentations in which the speaker only repeats infinite lists of information without any apparent structure.
You should use the presentation as a visual support, not as a textual one. This is where the secret lies. You should try to highlight the most important data and graphics, use real photos of the project for illustrating your key points and try not to overuse difficult diagrams to explain. When we talk about communication, less visual information produces a memorable impact.
In addition, if you provide too much information, your audience will choose what information they prefer in order to reconstruct their own version, which may differ from yours.
4. You should find out the learning style of your audience
Although the visual information is assimilated without too much effort, each person has their own way of learning. You should adapt your message to this aspect too.
For example, if your CEO considers that it is important to have written information, you can prepare a project paper on a single page and give it as support material while you are doing your presentation.
5. You should practice until you reach a fluent style
Practice is the mother of excellence. You should not improvise any detail, but make sure that it does not appear as a scripted presentation. The idea is that you should speak naturally about a subject matter. You should revise the most important project data and the logical connections that you want to highlight.
6. You should highlight the most important message after ending your presentation
Usually, the most interesting situations from a communicative point of view are the interaction that happens when you have finished your presentation. How does the audience react? How many questions did you receive? Which type of questions were they? Were they in a hurry to leave? At this moment, the listening situation changes and the audience is more available to incorporate all the information that you communicate to them. You should not allow your comments to be improvised: you should try to highlight the most important message for you with a quick comment: “Thank you for your attention, and let me reiterate that…” This comment must be limited to a few seconds.
7. Review how the presentation went
Immediately analyze how the presentation went. Did it go the way you expected it to? Have you achieved your aims of the presentation? Have the aspects, that you had prepared, peaked the interest of your management or where there any surprises? You should incorporate this experience into your presentation toolkit in order to learn and improve for the next time you have to present.