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PM4DEV Blog

Ideas, suggestions and general thoughts about project management for development.

Making the Right Presentations

b2ap3_thumbnail_making-the-right-presentations.pngHere are some tips to help you prepare for your next project presentation.

The purpose of any presentation, written, oral or visual, is communication; and to communicate effectively, the information must be stated in a simple, concise and interesting manner. Your audience should be able to understand the purpose of the presentation; this involves knowing the audience, the occasion, and the expectations of the audience. This will be a critical determinant in what information is presented and how it is presented. You have to tailor the message to the audience - understand their needs, desires, knowledge level, and attitude toward the topic while being concrete, specific, practical, and relevant.

People learn and retain more information when learning is reinforced by visualization. Simple, clear, concise visual images, will lend support to the spoken words. This leaves the audience with a positive attitude toward the content of the presentation.

A good presentation is made up of four basic components:
 

  • The Opening. Participants are introduced to the purpose of the presentation. It should be a brief summary or outline of the points to be covered. This helps keep your audience oriented properly within the framework of your presentation.
  • The Body. This is where the subject matter is presented. The body should be separated into smaller, easily assimilated modules. Each module or sub-section should make a single point or convey one idea. These sub-sections should each have their · own simple opening, body and summary.
  • The Summary.  This portion should be very brief and simple. It is a chance to reinforce the central theme and purpose of the presentation. The goal is to briefly emphasize the key points and main ideas of the presentation.
  • The Closing. The points that were raised during the question and answer session are summarized and any handout material that was not required during the presentation is distributed. This allows the audience to review the subject and assures that the ideas presented will remain fresh in their minds.


Using PowerPoint Slides
 

  • When making a presentation that is using a PowerPoint Slide or other type of visual aid, do not read the text, unless people in the room do not know how to read. Repeating the text that is on the screen is just a waste of time.
  • Make eye contact with all the audience and speak in a clear voice, adding more content to the ideas presented to draw the audience attention.
  • On the day of the presentation, arrive and set up early. Have spare projector bulbs and extra copies of the handout material close at hand.
  • Images and text should be legible for anyone; a good test is to go to the back of the room and see if the text is readable.
  • Try to use large letters and 4 or 6 lines of text per slide, don’t clutter the slide with graphics or use too many colors and different fonts. Use font sizes large enough to view from anywhere in the room try not to use fonts smaller than 28 points.
  • Excessive use of Clip art, sound, fonts, colors, backgrounds, transitions can be distracting and can misdirect the attention of the audience from the intended content.

Another good strategy is to deliver the hard copy of the slides at the end of the presentation that will keep people from reading ahead of you and miss your talking points. Make sure that you go over all your materials the day before the presentation to ensure that you have all that you need.

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Project Participation

b2ap3_thumbnail_participation.png

Participation in project management is a process that allows sharing some of the control on the project with key stakeholders, especially beneficiaries. By giving beneficiaries the opportunity to participate in the decision making elements of project management helps build a sense of ownership on the outcomes of the project.

Ownership of the project outcomes ensures the support and active involvement of stakeholders. When stakeholders know their voices, opinions and preferences are heard, they know the project is meeting their needs. Participation should not be limited to baseline interviews and occasional communication meetings but should be included in all the project phases; from the design, planning, implementation, monitoring, adaptation and closing/evaluation of the project.

Participation is also a political act in which beneficiaries are empowered to have their voices heard and that simple fact changes the power relationships between the project and the stakeholders. Participation is also strategic to the needs of the project as it increases the impact of the project and increases its sustainability beyond the end of the project. But participation is not cheap, requires the use of resources and time, but the benefits of this investment are recovered by the long term impact.

The principle behind participation is that stakeholders are collaborators in the project, not just simple recipients or contributors, but active partners in the project at every phase of the project. All participation approaches are designed to generate an active participation including making key decisions on the project that have a direct influence on the stakeholders and most important they can even help challenge some of the original assumptions the project had about the stakeholders and that can have a significant input in the project design and strategies.

Project managers must built-in participation in the project planning phase, and choose when, what, why, and who will participate; taking in consideration that asking too much participation can also have a negative effect, after all stakeholders have other priorities and activities that the project is competing with. The project manager must be conscious of the time availability and effort needed from stakeholders. Project stakeholders vary and their level of participation also varies depending on who they are and what are their stakes in the project, the project should identify all project stakeholders and evaluate the level of participation needed from each, when the participation is needed, and why the participation will increase the impact of the project. This simple analysis help focus the project resources on the areas that will bring the most benefit.

 

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