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Why Project Managers Need Public Speaking Skills
By Amy S Hamilton

Project Management can be a tough profession. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to balance the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. The Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that projects are completed on time, within budget and meets the standards, so why would public speaking be important?

Most Project Managers are required to solicit support during the project proposal phase, present to boards on regular intervals and present final project results. When Project Managers are uncomfortable speaking in public they appear less confident and knowledgeable about their project status. When boards have to make tough decisions about projects they don’t always base everything on the numbers, often their confidence in the Project Manager is reflected in their decisions.

Recently I observed a project portfolio meeting where a Project Manager stated that his project may slip to the right. His demeanor did not instill assurance and the board grilled him for some time about the possible time delay. Later, in the same portfolio meeting, a Project Manager stated that his project was over two weeks behind. Then self-confidently stated that he had everything covered and provided some details on how he planned to make up the time later in the project. The board members didn’t ask a single additional question. It was amazing to see how one PM was quizzed over a possible future time slip and the PM who already had busted his deadline was left alone.

There clearly are benefits to improved public speaking for Project Managers and a great way to improve public speaking is through practice. There are several websites, books and videos available to those interested in improving their public speaking. Many community colleges offer public speaking courses and many communities are home to Toastmaster Clubs. No matter what method is chosen, it is important that Project Managers become effective communicators and briefers to be at the top of their game.

Amy S Hamilton, PMP works at NORAD and USNORTHCOM in Cyberspace Operations. She is a board member of the Pikes Peak Regional Chapter of PMI and a member of Colorado Springs Toastmasters.

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