By Quynh Woodward
PMO leaders are busy people. They focus on their organizational strategic initiatives and goals. They develop robust processes to facilitate value delivery while communicating to stakeholders and engaging their senior executives with critical insights. They nurture the skills and capabilities of their teams to enable success. They have a lot of activities on their plate.
Presenting at the PMO Symposium® may require hours of preparation and may not be on the priority list for many PMO leaders. Fortunately, several skilled PMO leaders are taking on that extra effort to share their real-world knowledge.
I asked speakers from past PMO Symposium events about their presentation experiences and sought their advice. The following individuals responded to my questions.
- Anna Consor, ITIL, CSM, PMP | Associate vice president, project management at Navy Federal Credit Union
- Carrie Fletcher, PMP | Vice president, people & experience at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Rachel Greenfield Davis, PMP | Associate director of project management at Whole Foods Market
What factors influenced your decision to present at the PMO Symposium?
- Anna: Having watched my PMO grow over the last nine years, I felt like others could benefit from the lessons learned that we've experienced, both good and bad, to help their organizations thrive. Many times, I learn just as much from the attendees as they do from me! In addition, I love giving back to an organization and a community that has given so much to me over the years.
- Carrie: The PMO Symposium is “THE” conference for those working with PMOs. I personally learned an incredible amount at the symposium when I first attended in 2017. I also felt the learnings my team and I had from implementing a successful PMO at CAMH would be beneficial to share with others. Providing practical information to people to help make their PMO a success just made sense to me.
- Rachel: I felt that I had a perspective to share that was on theme with the overall conference focus last year on change management. It also felt like it was an opportunity to reflect on the past few years of leading a PMO, and that I could learn something from it as well as the audience.
How was your experience as a PMO Symposium presenter?
- Anna: Being a presenter at PMO Symposium is rich and rewarding, full of networking, collaboration, lasting professional relationships and engaging conversations. The actual experience of presenting itself could not be any easier, and it gets better and better every year! PMI is very organized, so that by the time the symposium comes around, your presentation has been well marketed, logistics are set up, and time to network with other industry leaders has been built into your agenda. It's a win-win for everyone.
- Carrie: Being a PMO presenter was a wonderful experience. The symposium is very well managed and the presenters are all top notch. The feeling of being in a room presenting to like-minded people who genuinely want to hear what you have to say is very refreshing. Not all conferences give that same vibe.
- Rachel: I felt totally taken care of by PMI staff at the event, and supported by fellow presenters and attendees throughout the conference. It was a surreal experience being up there for my session, and at times it was hard to tell how my presentation was being received! But the positive feedback that came later was reassuring. I really appreciated getting to see the unfiltered survey results a couple of weeks later.
What advice would you give to other PMO leaders submitting a proposal to present at the event?
- Anna: Engage your audience, and show how you plan to do so in your proposal. Ask questions in the middle of your presentations, and get them excited about your topic! What will evoke emotion? What will make people walk away and say, "Wow, that was amazing!"? Bring real-life stories to share. Stories are what resonate with people, and it's what they take back to their companies.
- Carrie: Think about presenting on something that you feel would be beneficial to others. Frame things in a way that will allow people to take the information and/or advice you are giving to use it in their environment. Try to keep your presentation a little less structured and be open to questions throughout the presentation. Because you are presenting to like-minded individuals, they may want to ask questions and get more context throughout the presentation. You may also learn something from your audience to take back to your own organization!
- Rachel: Prioritize story and flow in how you deliver the content, so that it feels interconnected and narrative for audiences to follow along with. Make it easy for the audience to get the key takeaways, so all of your content builds around supporting a few key points. In that vein, I also recommend focusing on practical take-home action items that are your best ideas, rather than several potentially less impactful or less broadly useable ones.
The 2019 PMO Symposium call for presentation proposals is open now until 3 May! Don’t miss your chance to take part in the event where leaders meet. PMO leaders interested in sharing PMO practical knowledge and innovative strategies are encouraged to submit a proposal for consideration.
Showcase your thought leadership at www.PMI.org/PMOSpeaker.
For more information about the event, visit www.pmi.org/pmo-symposium.