When managing a project, you’ll have to report frequently to a variety of stakeholders, which may include your manager, senior leaders, the project team, or clients. There will be many expectations for the project – which sometimes will be met or exceeded, and sometimes not. Either way, you'll need excellent presentation skills to present your project status and results.
Ways to Present a Project
Your goal is to present your project in a way that holds your audience’s interest while helping them understand the points that are relevant to them. Below are four frameworks that can help you do just that:
- Problem to Solution
The CAR framework works well once a project is completed. The purpose of this type of presentation is to highlight the successes of the project. This framework is perfect for senior leadership audiences with limited time.
CAR is an acronym for Challenge • Action • Result.
The Challenge is the reason you undertook the project in the first place. There was something you intended to accomplish as a result of completing this project. It could be a problem to solve, a product to build, or a market to conquer.
The Action is what you did to meet the Challenge.
The Result is the outcome of the project.
Here’s an example:
Challenge: We are contractually obligated to respond to a request for support within 24 hours. However, in the previous quarter, our average support response time was as long as 72 hours. We had to get response times down to less than 24 hours.
Action: We analyzed our resource allocation. We determined that some regions were overwhelmed with requests while others were idle. Therefore, we designed and implemented a load-balancing system. This new system passes support requests from overloaded teams to under-utilized teams.
Result: As of the close of business yesterday, our average support response time for the previous four weeks is now less than 24 hours.
Use SHARE when your audience needs a more detailed project report than you would deliver with CAR. This format gives you an opportunity to discuss the situation (similar to Challenge in the CAR model), obstacles, analysis, action, results, and evaluation.
SHARE is an acronym for Situation • Hindrances • Analysis/Action • Results • Evaluation.
To build on the example above:
Situation: Same as the “Challenge” above.
Hindrance: May include obstacles related to cost, new software, additional training needed, and/or resistance from long-term employees.
Analysis/Action: Describe what data you reviewed and how you determined the imbalance, then the multiple steps taken to execute the plan.
Results: Same as the CAR model, but then you can add…
Evaluation: How the project went overall. What went very well? What might you have done differently? What insights did this project provide in relation to potential future projects?
This is an excellent framework for debriefing a completed project with an eye toward continuous improvement for the future.
While CAR and SHARE work best at the end of a project, PREP can be used when delivering a mid-project update. This framework will help you be succinct and stay on point while providing the most relevant information. PREP also has a persuasive element, so if you are making a case for a particular decision on the project, PREP will support your recommendation. Once you’ve shared your position, you can also ask for feedback from others.
PREP is an acronym for Position • Reason • Example • Position.
Begin your message by stating your Position related to the project. Examples of a position are:
- The project is running on time and on budget
- The project is behind schedule / The project is ahead of schedule
- We need more resources to complete the project
- We have successfully reached the project halfway mark
After stating your position, share 1-2 logical Reasons why that is the case. As a follow-up to this explanation, provide an Example or two that illustrate your reason. You can use both data and anecdotal information. Finally, sum up by reinforcing your initial Position.
Here’s an example:
Position: We need to request a 2-month extension on the project timeline.
Reason: Several suppliers are taking longer than planned to produce and deliver essential materials. This is delaying tasks on the critical path.
Example: ABC Corporation was supposed to have our order filled by last month. But we did not receive the materials until last Friday
Position: Extending our timeline will give our stakeholders a realistic expectation of when the project will be complete.
After sharing your project update using the PREP framework, you can follow-up with a question to elicit feedback, such as, “What are everyone’s thoughts on extending our timeline?”
Note: Only ask a question like this if you actually want feedback and suggestions. Alternatively, if you need approval for a project change, this would be the time to ask for it.
Problem to Solution
The "stepchild" of the project frameworks – Problem to Solution is the only one that is not an acronym. However, this disadvantage does not make it any less useful. The Problem to Solution framework is actually a persuasive model. It can be a powerful tool to inspire support for your project or reengage your stakeholders. This simple framework includes the following:
Problem: Similar to SHARE and CAR, Problem to Solution begins with a description of the situation. However, it may be the original situation OR a current situation with the project. To increase engagement, paint a picture for your stakeholders. What is the impact of this problem? Why is it so important? What are some examples of how this problem is impacting the organization or project – which ultimately requires a solution? Your goal during this portion is to obtain buy-in that a problem exists and needs a solution.
Solution: In this section, you again have the option of focusing on the entire project as the Solution or a specific Solution within the project that is needed to complete it properly. Your solution should be a response to the problem that you just posed. If you made a good case for your problem, and a strong connection to your solution, you should now have buy-in for the solution that you are proposing.
Visualization: Paint a vivid picture of what the future will look like as a result of this solution. This section is where you have the opportunity to inspire others. The more your stakeholders can envision the positive outcome of your solution, the more support you will gain for it. This aspect can be especially helpful if you are speaking to your project team and want to keep them energized and engaged through a difficult patch. It can also be valuable when speaking with clients or funders – especially if you are requesting additional time, resources, or funding.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to ensure your project presentations are informational while still being engaging – and even persuasive and inspirational. There is no reason ever to give another boring "project report." Instead, use these times as opportunities to engage and inspire your project team, manager, senior leaders, and clients.
Click below to download planning tools for each framework.