Last month I shared some tips for using spreadsheets. Today I have some tips for presentations. I tend to use Microsoft PowerPoint, but all of these tips are relevant regardless of what presentation software you use.
1. Use icons
You can make slides look so much better if you include a few icons scattered through in relevant places. Corporate slide decks (in my experience) tend to have lots of bullet points, so even if you add one or two icons you can break up the feel of large blocks of text.
Note: Remember to respect copyright. Don’t download icons to use from the internet unless you specifically have the licence and rights to use them.
Here’s an example of a slide that uses icons.
2. Use a big font
The bigger the better! Anything less than 18 point is hard to read at distance.
The best way to check if you can read the slide is to go to the room you’ll be presenting in and put the slides on the screen. Then you’ll be able to see (in real life) whether you are making it difficult for people to read your material.
3. Use a full-slide background
Full-slide backgrounds can make your slides look really good.
Note: Slides that are predominately for use as training materials or to be read without you standing there talking through might be better off with more words. If you are able to talk about and explain the slides, you don’t need as many words on the slides – and a full-slide background can be a stylish way of presenting a few words on the screen.
Here’s an example of a slide that uses a full-slide background. The image is the same as one of my book jacket.
4. Add an extra slide for a handout
If you are distributing the slide deck, you can add in an extra slide at the end with more information. You wouldn’t show it within the presentation as you stand up and deliver it, and you can hide the slide from the presentation (in PowerPoint) if you want to. Or just stop clicking through the slides before you reach that one!
Your final slide can then be an extra list of resources, an appendix, links or anything else that you want people to be able to refer to.
5. Rehearse with the software!
It won’t be news to you that rehearsing is a good idea!
However, you should also practice with the slides. Use your clicker, or practice moving the slides on with your keyboard or mouse. Check that any multi-media works e.g. videos or audio that you have embedded in the presentation.
Check that you are aware of the slide transitions and builds. It’s annoying to watch a speaker either fly in all the bullet points in one go before talking about the slide, or finish talking and… oops!... there’s another bullet arriving covering a point they’ve forgotten about. If you don’t like using slide builds, take them out!
What presentation tips do you have for putting together a great slide deck? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Vendor Selection [Video]
In this video I talk about the second part of the procurement lifecycle, which is finding a vendor.
Watch the overview of the procurement lifecycle and a focus on the first step (requirements) in this video.
There’s more information about the overall procurement lifecycle in this article.
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We’re almost at the end of the deep dive into the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition, and what it has to say about Project Schedule Management. Last time I looked at the Develop Schedule process.
Today we are moving out of the Planning process group and moving into Monitoring and Controlling for the sixth process: Control Schedule. This is the last process in the Knowledge Area.
Here are the previous instalments:
Control Schedule Process
The Control Schedule process happens on an ongoing basis throughout the execution part of a project. As you are doing the work, you are constantly going back to the schedule to track your progress, make changes and ensure the schedule still reflects reality.
As a result, the biggest output of the process is changes. You won’t put every schedule change through change control, but you’ll be using work performance information to make daily tweaks to the schedule to keep everything on track.
We see the common trend to simplify again in this process. Project schedule, project calendars and schedule data have been replaced by project documents in the Inputs list. You can still use all those documents for this process, but they aren’t called out individually any longer as specific Inputs.
You can also draw on:
And of course this isn’t a definitive list. Use whatever you need to in order to track, monitor and control progress against the schedule in a timely and efficient way.
Tools & Techniques
There are a few changes to Tools & Techniques, but they are all logical and make a lot of sense.
Performance reviews is out. These related to contract performance specifically, if I remember rightly, so the focus here is on being flexible enough to acknowledge some of the work (if not all of it) is performed by people who are employed by the organisation requesting the project. If I’m honest, my big issue with previous versions of the PMBOK® Guide was around the fact a lot of it was written as if you were outsourcing a lot of the work and buying in lots of services from contractors. Yes, I’ve worked on projects where that is the case, but not all my projects (or yours, I imagine) have been mainly supervising the work of contractors. We have internal staff who are also heavily involved in doing project work.
Project management software and scheduling tool have been replaced by project management information system, as we have seen elsewhere in other processes.
Resource optimisation techniques is now simply resource optimisation.
Modelling techniques is out.
The new T&T are:
The Outputs stay the same except organisational process assets updates has dropped off the list. If updating your schedule and controlling your project resulted in some business process having to change, then by all means report that to the PMO as a lesson learned. If updating an organisational process asset makes sense then do it anyway, even if it is no longer an output of this process. If you’ve got an example of when you doing schedule control has changed the way your business operates, then let us all know in the comments below, as I’m struggling to come up with a relevant example. Thanks!
That brings us to the end of the Project Schedule Management Knowledge Area. Next month, I’ll be looking at the trends and tailoring guidance for this topic. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve followed the whole series, we’re seeing more specific guidance for Agile approaches through the different processes, so I’m expecting to see more information about that called out in the PMBOK® Guide. Watch this space!
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How to Ask for a Budget Increase
It happens: your project budget won’t quite stretch to the full amount you are forecasting that’s required to complete the work.
But when you do have to ask for more money, how should you go about it? The conversation with your manager or sponsor can feel a bit awkward.
Here are the steps to take to ask for a budget increase (and get it).
1. Clarify why you want the extra
You’ll have to justify why you want the extra funding. Be clear about what it’s for and what has changed since your first project budget was put together. You might have a very good reason, such as a change to the project that has been approved – but is going to cost more.
Unfortunately, it’s often the case that the estimating wasn’t that great the first time round, so you simply got it wrong and need more budget to cover the existing work. Just be honest.
2. Define how much you want
So you know you need more. But how much more exactly?
Do your sums. If your estimating wasn’t up to much last time, use a different method for calculating what you need this time. Learn from your mistakes. Use your subject matter experts to help. Add contingency. Basically, get it right.
I know that’s tough, but take your time and get really clear on what additional funding you are asking for. This is important because it’s embarrassing to have to go back and ask for extra funds a second (or third or subsequent) time. If you’re going to have to ask for more money to deliver the project, let’s ask just the one time.
3. Put together a justification or options
You know what you need and you know why you need it. But so far, we haven’t explained that to anyone. Get your story clear. Justify why the additional funding is required.
If you are able to present options, do so. For example:
You’re presenting a menu of options for your project sponsor to choose from. They can choose to go forward with all of them, and will need to find the full allocation of funding you have asked for. Or they could pick and mix from the list, focusing on the changes and additional work that they feel will be most valuable for the project.
4. Talk to your sponsor
With that information in hand, it’s time to talk to your sponsor. Arrange a time when you’ll have the opportunity to discuss the options.
The conversation will be a mixture of presenting to an executive and also a general chat about the project. Be prepared to talk them through your justification, getting straight to the detail, but also for them to derail the conversation by talking about other aspects of the project that concern them. Make sure you get enough time talking about the funding issue.
They might not be in a position to make a decision straight away about how much additional funding you can have and for what. If there is a time-critical element to their decision making, let them know. For example, you might only be able to secure a special discount on a product until the end of the financial year, or something like that.
Be clear that you need them to make a decision.
5. Act on the decision
You’ve got the decision. You can either have the funding (hurray!) or not. Either way, you can now take steps to work on that basis. If you can increase your project budget, change your budget numbers (and record that the change was approved).
If you have been told that you can’t have the extra funding, you need to go back to the drawing board and review what you can achieve with your project. Maybe you need to deliver over a longer period of time, or release resources, or review what you can realistically complete with the money you have.
What tips do you have for requesting additional funding on a project? Let us know in the comments below!
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There are 5 steps in the procurement lifecycle:
This video outlines the steps and talks specifically about the requirements and getting the procurement off to a good start by understanding what you need from the exercise.