Updated 29th November 2021
Influencing other people, convincing them your argument is right or selling them your idea is something all project managers must do at times. It might be to get you that dream project manager’s job in the first place or to ensure a project you have been assigned to has a chance of success.
Being able to effectively influence others is about communicating clearly your idea or point of view in such a way that you can change the mind of other individuals who held a different view or achieve buy-in for a new idea or to change an approach to a project.
For instance, you may have been brought in to manage a project after the initiation stage and you can see that the initial plan won’t work – maybe the estimates are way too optimistic or dependencies between tasks have not been adequately accounted for. Maybe the team just doesn’t have the skills required to complete their assigned tasks properly. Maybe the requirements or business case have not been well-defined.
Whatever the reasons, if you can see at an early stage that the project is not headed for success then you must be able to convince those around you that something needs to change and that is not always easy, especially if you are new to the company or the department. But the success not only of the project depends on it, but also the success of your own career.
Good presentations are one of the most important tasks for getting your message across and, critically, convincing others that you know what you are talking about and that you are right. So one of the ways you can help yourself to develop good influencing skills is to hone your presentation skills. Some people grasp every opportunity to make a presentation – they are those people who love to stand up and talk in public but many other people find presentations a challenge so if you are one of these then developing and practising your technique often is a must. There are plenty of books and online articles on how to make a great presentation but there is no substitute for real experience.
But what else apart from great presentation skills helps us to influence those around us in the workplace?
Often the people who are the most effective at influencing others exhibit a range of qualities; such as confidence but also competence, charisma and genuine “likeability”. Even your body language can play a part in how well you influence people. Do you stand tall and smile often, for instance. As with every aspect of being a great project manager we can learn by observing those around us who do these things well.