Cheat Sheet

Career Development For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Career Development All-in-One For Dummies

By Consumer Dummies

Sooner or later in your professional life, you’ll have to give an important presentation. Before the presentation, rehearse and ask someone to evaluate your performance. Discover the common project management pitfalls to avoid in the ever-growing array of huge, complex, and technically challenging projects in today’s world. Finally, before you call it a day at work, take a few steps to prepare for tomorrow so you can start your day off on the right foot.

Presentation Evaluation Sheet

Whether presenting as part of a team or alone, asking someone to evaluate your performance during rehearsal can help hone your presentation and skills. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor to watch your presentation — ideally someone who is similar to a typical audience member or can put himself in the audience’s state of mind.

After your presentation, the evaluator can either complete this form or give you verbal feedback on the aspects of the presentation. Some of the questions relate to the content, so you can determine if you delivered your desired message, while others are about your specific performance.

  • What was the title of my presentation?

  • What three main points did I make?

  • What is the call to action I want the audience to take?

  • What parts of the presentation were confusing?

  • Did I use any jargon or words that you didn’t know or understand?

  • Which parts of the presentation are too simplistic or contain information that the audience already knows?

  • Were my visuals interesting or boring, helpful or distracting?

  • How did you feel during and after the presentation?

  • Objectively describe me — during the presentation — in two or three words, such as professional, nervous, knowledgeable, warm, confident, cold, unorganized, pushy.

  • Did I do any of the following:

    • Talk too fast

    • Talk too slow or in a monotone voice

    • Pace or shift my weight nervously

    • Display a nervous tic, such as grimacing or playing with an object

How to Avoid Common Project Management Pitfalls

The pressure of having to complete a project with little time and few resources often causes people to cut corners and ignore certain issues that can significantly affect a project’s chances for success. Avoid the following common pitfalls and instead address the issues early in the project to help reduce their possible negative impacts:

Framing vague project objectives: Project objectives are the results that must be achieved if the project is to be successful. The more specific the objectives, the easier it’ll be for you to estimate the time and resources required to achieve them and the easier it’ll be for you and your audiences to confirm they have been met.

Be sure to include measures (the characteristics of an objective you’ll use to decide if it has been achieved) and specifications (the values of the measures that you believe confirm that you have successfully achieved your objectives).

  • Overlooking key audiences: Be sure to determine your project’s drivers (those people who define what your project must achieve to be successful) and its supporters (the people who make it possible for you to accomplish your desired project’s objectives). Important drivers who often get overlooked are the ultimate end users of your project’s products.
  • Failing to document assumptions: People almost always make assumptions regarding their projects; however, they often fail to write them down because they figure everyone else is making the same ones.Documenting your assumptions allows you to confirm that all people are operating under the same set of assumptions and reminds you periodically to check whether project assumptions have been confirmed and new ones have been made.
  • Backing in to project schedules: Backing in to a project schedule entails trying to determine the time and resources you feel would enable you to achieve project success while ignoring the question of how likely it is that you’ll be able to get the required amounts of time and resources.

Instead of backing in, consider the time and resources that you realistically feel you would be able to secure and to explore different ways of using them to increase your chances of being able to successfully complete your project.

  • Not getting key commitments in writing: Not putting commitments in writing increases the chances that what people intended to commit to was different from what you thought they did commit to. In addition to increasing the accuracy of communication, writing down commitments helps those who made them to remember them and encourages people to modify the written statements when necessary.
  • Failing to keep the plan up-to-date: If a project is being run correctly, you and your team members should frequently consult the most current version of the project plan to confirm what each team member hast to do to produce the intended results.Not keeping the plan up-to-date means you have no reference explaining what people should be doing to successfully perform the required project work. It also suggests that adhering to the most recent version of the project plan isn’t really that important, a belief that significantly reduces the chances of project success.

Not having formal change control: Failing to follow a formal process for evaluating the effect of project changes increases the likelihood that important consequences of those requested changes will be overlooked when assessing the potential effects of those changes. In addition, it makes it more likely that some of the people who will be affected by the changes may not receive timely and accurate information about what those effects may be.

  • Not communicating effectively: Problematic communications increase the chances that people will work with different information when performing project tasks, as well as decrease team morale and commitment to overall project success.

7 Steps for Starting Tomorrow Right

There’s nothing like getting your day started on the right time-management foot! Too many times, you end one day without preparing for the next . . . cluttered desks, disorganized calendars, and no plan for tomorrow can lead to unfinished tasks. To start tomorrow off right, follow these seven simple steps:

  1. Clear your desk.
    Put everything back into a file drawer, even if you plan to take those items right back out in the morning. Throw away items that you will no longer need.
  2. Make tomorrow’s to-do list.
    List all the projects, tasks, telephone calls, meetings, and objectives you want to accomplish the following day.
  3. Prioritize the tasks on your to-do list.
    Be sure to complete the prioritizing completely from A-list activities (those with heavy penalties if they’re not completed) to lower-level tasks that can be delegated (D-list) or eliminated (E-list).
  4. Delegate all tasks, projects, and calls that someone else can do.
    If you can’t completely delegate the tasks because of their complexity or because a staff member is gone the next day, at least send a quick memo or email letting the person know the assignment’s coming.
  5. Determine what you need to accomplish to make tomorrow a great day.
    By determining a goal, you increase your intensity, focus, and urgency from the time you walk through the door.
  6. Prepare your workspace for tomorrow’s A-1 priority task.
    Assemble all the materials you’ll need and neatly stack and organize them on your desk.
  7. Rate your day.
    To get better use of your time tomorrow, set aside time to reflect on today. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What went well today? What didn’t go well?
    • Did you complete everything on your to-do list?
    • What did you learn today?
    • What would you have done differently?