Author: Damien Gauthier
As project managers, we all know that effective communication is crucial to the success of any
project. But what exactly does that mean? And how can we improve our communication skills to
ensure our projects are successful? In this article, I’ll be giving you my top 9 advices on what to
work on to improve your skill in public speaking and present a training I’ll be offering to PMI
members in April.
My top advices to gain an unfair advantage in communication
According to Tim Stobierski from Harvard, communication and presentation skills are the top
skills to acquire in the 2020s. Effective communication rallies your team around a shared vision,
empowers employees, builds trust, and seeds successful projects.
But let's be honest: public speaking can be challenging. In fact, studies show that 90% of people
experience some level of anxiety when it comes to public speaking. And while there are plenty
of tips and tricks out there, such as "don't point your finger" or "don't say 'um,'" the truth is that
these tips won't help you if you don't have a strong foundation in the fundamentals of speaking.
My top advices are:
1. Perform a warm-up each day you'll speak in public: it's essential to take a few minutes to
warm up your voice and get your body and mind ready to talk. This could be as simple as doing
deep breaths, stretches, or vocal exercises.
2. Actively seek speaking opportunities: Even if you're scared, it's important to push yourself
out of your comfort zone and seek out opportunities to speak in public. The more you do it, the
easier it will become and the more confident you'll become in your ability to engage and
persuade your audience.
3. Work on your slides: One key to effective presentations is to have clear, concise slides that
support your message. Aim for only one key message per slide and ensure it's clear and
relevant to your audience.
4. Structure your arguments: When presenting an opinion or idea, it's important to
make it mutually exclusive (no overlap with other ideas) and collectively exhaustive (covering all
aspects of the topic). This helps to ensure that you're presenting a well-rounded and thorough
5. Tell stories: People love stories, and incorporating them into your presentations can be a
powerful way to engage your audience and make your message more memorable. Start with
examples or use cases and then present data (such as graphs or tables) with a narrative to help
illustrate your points.
6. Vary your delivery: Don't be afraid to mix things up and try different approaches to your
storytelling and presentation style. This could include using different tones of voice, varying your
pace, and incorporating visual aids or multimedia.
7. Use body language to your advantage: Your body language can say just as much as your
words, so make sure you're using it to your advantage. Practice good posture, make eye
contact, and use hand gestures and facial expressions to reinforce your message.
8. Engage your audience: Don't just lecture or present to your audience; engage them in the
conversation. This could mean asking for their input, posing questions, or involving them in
activities or demonstrations.
9. Get feedback: After each presentation or storytelling session, seek out inputs from others to
see what worked well and what could be improved. This will help you continue to grow and
develop your skills.
Damien Gauthier, actor, director, and TEDx speaker coach