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Speaking about Your Project Management Career

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Every major turning point in my career within the last eight years -- everything that I would call progress -- can be traced back to one thing: public speaking.

Eight years ago, on the advice of a few colleagues and friends, I decided to take my project management stories and experiences to a broader audience and enter the world of public speaking. I hadn't anticipated how wonderful it would be to share stories and experiences with so many fine people. Nor could I have ever imagined the world of possibilities it would later open up to me.

Success in project management certainly depends on capability. But it also depends on exposure and on the image you convey. What better way is there for you to gain exposure and to project an image as a capable project manager than to stand before a group of colleagues and share your knowledge on the profession?

When asked about public speaking, people often say, "I wish I could do that."

I say, "Why can't you?"

Each one of us has a unique perspective and unique experiences. All that remains to be done is to tell the stories in a compelling way. That takes some work and some practice, but it is within reach of any professional. I'll address some ways you can be a great public speaker in my next post.

In the meantime, I'd like to know if you ever considered public speaking? Why or why not? How has it helped shape your career? What tips can you share?

 

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12 Comments

Interesting article!

I completely agree - the ability to public speak is a huge asset as a PM. PM's always find themselves in front of project stakeholders, senior management, the public etc. etc.

I joined my local toastmasters group recently and the change it's had on me is huge! I highly recommend it.

Thanks for this great post and hearing from this PM group.

Our primary role is to communicate at all levels. Public Speaking is I think one of the foremost skills which allows us to be successful in delivering our core skills. I know Time is a challenge, which sometimes does not allow us to do much of rehearse or practice when we are too busy with meetings and activities.

What helps me is to create plan for the delivery and focus on what I want my audience to take away from it? Speaking is an art and it really helps to know some basic tools, which can help us groom ourselves not only professionally, but also in other walks of life.

Looking forward to your next post.

Susmita

I appreciate your post and can totally relate to it. After presenting at a local PMI Symposium and despite a big case of nerves, had a great time.

Since that first presentation I've gone on to present numerous times to other PMI Chapters and to other organizations. I'm now looking forward to co-presenting at a PMI State Conference in the spring.

Unnerving as public speaking is, if you can find the courage to give it a try, you'll likely do better than you think. It's a great confidence builder plus you're sharing valuable insights with other project managers. So at the end of the day, your presentation will help others in our profession.

Give it a try... you're going to do great!

Jill

I agree, public speaking will give us a lot of confidence & also improves our communication skills.

I do a lot of Knowledge Sharing sessions & presentations with my team on the projects which I have worked, so that my mind gets refreshed & I come up with newer ideas when I do my session next time for other people. It gives me a lot of confidence in public speaking.

People thank me a lot & I thank them later.

Cheers
Satish

Seeing as how 80% of our job as project managers is communication, public speaking is vital to our roles! Over the years public speaking has helped me tremendously stand out from other employees and also allowed me to effectively present ideas and concepts to stakeholders.

If you're in the Washington, D.C. area I welcome you to come visit the PMIWDC Toastmasters group, an affiliate of the PMI Washington DC Chapter. Learn leadership and public speaking skills in a constructive environment while also improving your project management skills! More details can be found at http://www.pmiwdctoastmasters.org

I agree, I am constantly called upon to speak publicly and though it takes a lot of my time to prepare, rehearse and then rehearse some more, it always pays off in new business relationships. Whether it is on stage, on the internet, TV or in a client presentation environment, you need to be ready to stand and deliver!

Very interesting and helpful piece.

I enjoy public speaking but know that I am lacking certain skills. I've considered trying something in that arena but the challenge would be where to start.

I have a passion for outdoor and other survival skills but difficult to see where you'd be able to speak regarding those subjects.

Jim,

You're so right. This is why - much to the chagrin of the PM students in my training programs - I require that they give a presentation as part of each of the knowledge areas.

We're "up there" alot.

They always thank me later...

And I thank you.

PS: hope to see you next year in Vancouver!

Cheers,

Rich

I agree with your view. Public speaking is part of our communication skill and project managers have to develop this skill for their own growth and project success.

I felt I was fine with this skill until I joined Toastmaster, which gives a great platform for improving public speaking skills.

I have also come to the conclusion that confident public speaking is one of the major aspects in assessing the success of a project manager. I provide training in one of the scheduling tools and also mentor university students, but standing up and addressing an audience is different. I have joined the local Toastmaster group to train and build up public speaking confidence.

As for me the answer is yes, I have considered being a public speaker. I have no problem speaking to a large audience. My problems have always fallen under 'How do I start' or 'What should I expose' categories. I thought about first building a wider professional networking and being a instructor to some courses.

Looking forward to your next post.
Bruno Guimarães

I appreciate the article. I have always enjoyed teaching and public speaking and just recently had my first opportunity to speak about Project Management. It was so exciting a rewarding. I honestly gained more from it than my audience I'm sure. I can't wait for additional opportunities. Thanks for the thoughts.

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