Strategic Project Management–Adopting the Logical Framework to Real-World Challenges (part 3)


In the book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, Terry Schmidt introduces the Logical Framework Matrix as a tool for creating a strategic plan (chapters 1-8), and for executing, monitoring & controlling that plan (chapter 9).   In the 11th chapter, he wraps up his book with several tips on applying the ideas in his book to real world project challenges.

1.   Making Projects Stronger in 12 ways

post to be continued

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Strategic Project Management–Adopting the Logical Framework to Real-World Challenges (part 2)


In the book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, Terry Schmidt introduces the Logical Framework Matrix as a tool for creating a strategic plan (chapters 1-8), and for executing, monitoring & controlling that plan (chapter 9).   In the 11th chapter, he wraps up his book with several tips on applying the ideas in his book to real world project challenges.

1.   Making Projects Stronger in 12 ways

post to be continued

Patricia Fripp on Opening Your Speech from Good to Great


At the Spring Conference held by the Chicagoland District 30 of Toastmasters International on April 26th, 2014, at the North Shore Holiday Inn in Skokie, IL, I witnessed the keynote speaker Patricia Fripp do a series of presentations on how to open your speech to make it more effective, and how to thereby open yourself up to going from being a merely good speaker to being a great one.

Here are some notes I took of her presentations.   I hope all those who read this blog article and who are interested in having Patricia Tripp as their own speech coach will go to her website at http://www.fripp.com and check out her programs.

1.   Your Topic must Interest the Audience

To really engage your audience’s attention, rather than them come to listen to you, you have to go and reach out to them.   Yes, it is true, that the audience physically comes to listen to you if you are doing a speech, but mentally you have to be the one that bridges the gap between where they are at the beginning of the speech and where you want to be by the time it is done.

The first key to doing this is to make sure that the subject of your speech is of interest to your audience.     It may not necessarily be of interest to them at the beginning, but you need to relate it to their own experience in such a way that it will become of interest to them.    If you communicate your message with passion and relate it to the audience, you will connect with them.

2.  Three Elements of a Speech

The three elements of a speech are its content, its structure, and its delivery.    The content is what you are trying to deliver it, the structure is how you package the content for delivery, and the delivery is how you get that package over to the listener with skillful means.

It reminds me of a saying by Oscar Wilde, “all bad art is sincere.”   If you change the word “art” to “communication”, you get “all bad communication is sincere.”   What does this mean?    People who communicate poorly may be sincere, in the sense that what they believe in their heart is connected to what comes out of their mouth.    Up to that point, they are fine.   But because the communication is poorly structured or delivered, it doesn’t end up getting over to the other side, the listener, with the same intensity or even the same content as that which was intended by the sender.    Sincerity is necessary, but not sufficient to get the message across.   You need technique, which is what Patricia Fripp delivers.

3.  Content:   Don’t Explain Your Point–Show it through Story

Don’t explain your point intellectually–it will have more impact if it is felt emotionally through the impact of a story. In order to create an impactful story, you have to have a story that engages the imagination of the listener, and you do that through the specificity and artistry of your word choices.    You need to add words that fill out the usual journalistic questions such as:

  • When?
  • Where?
  • Who?
  • What Happened?
  • What was the Result?

The first three set the scene, and the last two play out the scene.

3.   Structure:   Words and Sentences

Choose the individual words carefully with specificity, because specificity breeds credibility.   Avoid vague words such as “stuff”, “things”, “some”, etc.    Choose to place the words you want to emphasize at the end of sentences, where they will have more impact.

Structure the speech in general like this:

  • Strong Opening
  • Premise (explanation, example, application)
  • Seamless Transition (past, present, future OR local, national, international)
  • Strong Closing

4.  Delivery:    No Wasted Motions or Gestures

Every action of your hands or your body during a speech needs to have a purpose.    Don’t pace back and forth across the stage unless each movement is thematically related to the story you are telling.    This will come across as simply nervous energy, and it will make the audience, guess what?, nervous!      If your speech pauses, then your gestures must also pause.

5.  Strong Opening

Patricia Fripp explained one element of her suggested speech structure (see paragraph 3), namely the first one, a strong opening.    Use words which will intrigue the audience, and make them want to hear the next element, your premise.

Patricia Fripp uses several audience members as examples of her ability to make ordinary speakers into great ones.   She had them come up on stage, start a speech, and then she would critique them in light of the points she made during the first part of her presentation.    For example, one person starting a speech with the line, “so I was standing in line at a McDonald’s” as she walked across the stage.    Patricia said, “did you see that?   She is saying ‘I was standing in line’, but her body is NOT standing, it is walking.”    She then had the person start her speech by saying the line “I was standing in line,” but then had her stand up straight as if she were standing in line.    Now the physical picture you see matches the verbal picture she is painting in her speech.

That’s just one example of how her quick insights demonstrated her ability to pinpoint weaknesses in a person’s content, structure, and/or delivery and how to improve them so that the person’s premise of their speech really shines forth.   It was an unforgettable demonstration, and I know that I intend to take her visual speech coaching!

Spring Conference–Another Name for a Toastmaster Holiday


Twice a year, each District in Toastmasters International puts on a conference, which serve to add value to members whose normal experience of Toastmasters is usually confined to what they experience in their clubs.

Here’s an example of 5 activities that we did in the Spring Conference held today, Saturday, April 26th, in District 30, which consists of the Chicagoland area.

1.   Opening Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies, after the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and an inspirational thought to put our minds in the right framework for the Conference, consisted of a Banner Parade.    All clubs compete in the Distinguished Club Program which consists of 10 goals for a club to achieve, some educational, some related to membership retention, some to leadership training by the club officers, and some related to compliance with basic record keeping in the club’s relationship to the parent organization of Toastmasters International.

  • If you get 5 points out of 10, you get the designation of being a Distinguished Club
  • If you get 7 points out of 10, you get the designation of being a Select Distinguished Club
  • If you get 9 points out of 10, you get the designation of being a President’s Distinguished Club

If you get any of these designations, you got to be in the Banner Parade, which meant that those clubs that achieved 10 points (which included our club!) got to file up the red carpet to the front of the stage, where they received the award for that designation.    Then all the 9-point clubs went, followed by the 8-, 7-, 6-, and 5-point clubs.   This is a way for a club to get recognition from the entire district for its achievement, and for those members in the club to get recognition for having been a part of that club’s success story for the previous year.

2.  Keynote Speaker

Every conference, they get a speaker who inspires the District membership to become better speakers.   Amazingly, our District has been able to get World Champions of public speaking from previous years, the result of their having won the International Speech Contest for that year.    But this Conference, it went beyond a speech by a World Champion:   we got Patricia Fripp, who is a trainer of World Champions!    She gave us the same pointers she gives those who are going straight to the top of the competition, in the hopes that we will, wherever we are along the Toastmasters pathway of educational and leadership achievement, up our game from “good” to “great”.    She was  entertaining, educational, and inspirational by turns, and you can see why her public speaking course available at http://www.fripp.com, is in such high demand.

3.  Business Meeting

The District leadership meets once every month, but twice a year, there is a special meeting that is held at a Conference, and the main business at the Spring Conference is the election of new officers for the district and division.    Our club was fortunate to have a member who was elected to the District leadership, and I hope it will be inspirational for those in our club (like me) who also harbor aspirations of one day being elected to that same District leadership.     I look forward to following in her footsteps a few years down the line, after I become Area Governor next year and Division Governor at some point after that.

4.   International Speech Contest

The Table Topics Speech Contest was at the conference yesterday, but today’s Speech Contest was the International Speech Contest, the one that goes all the way up to the World Conference held in August of this year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.    As an Assistant Area Governor, I helped put on the Club, Area, and Division Contests in February, March, and April, respectively.   Now the 8 contestants from the various Divisions all competed together in the District Speech Contest.    Our Division competitor did a great job, but so did the competitors from all the other Divisions.   In the end, a guy named Conor Cunneen who originally came from Ireland, won the competition with his speech “Mr. Brown’s Question” about life lessons he learned from his Irish childhood.    He will be heading to Kuala Lumpur in August, all expenses paid for by the District!     The 8 speeches were so diverse, and of such high quality, that it was the entertainment value of the year to be moved by one after another of such great examples of oratory and storytelling!

5.  Awards Banquet

In the evening, those clubs and members who won awards in various contests put on by the District were give those awards in a ceremony had at the evening banquet.    My favorite part of this was at the end, where each person who achieves the highest level of individual achievement at the club level, the Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM) award, was greeted by a line of every single DTM in the entire district.     It was a “welcome to our Distinguished club” award, and the handshakes and hugs shared by the various previous winners of that designation were welcomed by the newest recipients of the award.

This day of celebration of the art of public speaking was something that inspired me, as it usually does, to become a better public speaker and to spend more time helping others in our club and area to do so.    Tomorrow I will give a post on the contents of the keynote speaker’s presentations, but just let me conclude with the note that a Spring Conference feels more like a “Toastmaster holiday” than a Conference, and that’s because it celebrates something that I have developed a passion for doing, and when that’s the case, it feels like play, and not work.    So next time there is a conference for Toastmasters, don’t hesitate, but rather join the fun!

Strategic Project Management–Adapting the Logical Framework to real-world challenges


In the book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, Terry Schmidt introduces the Logical Framework Matrix as a tool for creating a strategic plan (chapters 1-8), and for executing, monitoring & controlling that plan (chapter 9).   In the 11th chapter, he wraps up his book with several tips on applying the ideas in his book to real world project challenges.

1.   Making Projects Stronger in 12 ways

post to be continued

Strategic Project Management–Managing People Dynamics (part 3)


In the book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, Terry Schmidt introduces the Logical Framework Matrix as a tool for creating a strategic plan (chapters 1-8), and for executing, monitoring & controlling that plan (chapter 9).   In the 10th chapter, he changes the focus to show how the Logical Framework Matrix can be used not just to manage the tasks, activities, and the resources needed to complete them, but the very people who are doing those tasks and activities, i.e., the project team.    It can also be used as a springboard for managing those people outside of the project team who can influence the project for better or for ill, in other words, the stakeholders.

1.  The Project Team–The Heart and Soul of a Project

The key premise of the first part of this chapter is the following:  how you develop a project plan and who you involve is as important as the actual plan itself.   What this means is that if people participate in the development of a project plan, then have more buy-in and less resistance to carrying it out.

The Logical Framework Matrix, by providing a reference point by which the entire project team can develop the project plan, can also provide a rallying point for the morale of the team.

The second part of the premise is about who you involve in the project plan.   In the kickoff meeting, you may want to invite key stakeholders, especially upper management, to your meeting.   Even if they do not attend, the fact that you have invited them gives a signal automatically that you are open to input from outside the project team.    That doesn’t necessarily mean you will act on every suggestion, but you will at least listen to every suggestion.

If upper management does not attend, if you at least put out the agenda of the kickoff meeting, they might also have the opportunity to give their suggestions before the meeting that you may want to discuss with the project team.   Again, this is a gesture to let them know that their concerns are being heard.

Finally, after the project team meetings, you need to inform the key stakeholders of the results of the meetings so that they can at least have a chance to give input before the following meeting.    Those in the project team itself, of course, will be engaged during the course of the meeting in constructing the project plan so that they cannot help but feel a sense of personal responsibility towards its successful completion.

In the next post, I will go into some more detail about how Terry Schmidt recommends you engage the stakeholders throughout the course of the project.

Strategic Project Management–Managing People Dynamics (part 2)


In the book Strategic Project Management Made Simple, Terry Schmidt introduces the Logical Framework Matrix as a tool for creating a strategic plan (chapters 1-8), and for executing, monitoring & controlling that plan (chapter 9).   In the 10th chapter, he changes the focus to show how the Logical Framework Matrix can be used not just to manage the tasks, activities, and the resources needed to complete them, but the very people who are doing those tasks and activities, i.e., the project team.    It can also be used as a springboard for managing those people outside of the project team who can influence the project for better or for ill, in other words, the stakeholders.

1.  The Project Team–The Heart and Soul of a Project

The key premise of the first part of this chapter is the following:  how you develop a project plan and who you involve is as important as the actual plan itself.   What this means is that if people participate in the development of a project plan, then have more buy-in and less resistance to carrying it out.

The Logical Framework Matrix, by providing a reference point by which the entire project team can develop the project plan, can also provide a rallying point for the morale of the team.

The second part of the premise is about who you involve in the project plan.   In the kickoff meeting, you may want to invite key stakeholders, especially upper management, to your meeting.   Even if they do not attend, the fact that you have invited them gives a signal automatically that you are open to input from outside the project team.    That doesn’t necessarily mean you will act on every suggestion, but you will at least listen to every suggestion.

If upper management does not attend, if you at least put out the agenda of the kickoff meeting, they might also have the opportunity to give their suggestions before the meeting that you may want to discuss with the project team.   Again, this is a gesture to let them know that their concerns are being heard.

Finally, after the project team meetings, you need to inform the key stakeholders of the results of the meetings so that they can at least have a chance to give input before the following meeting.    Those in the project team itself, of course, will be engaged during the course of the meeting in constructing the project plan so that they cannot help but feel a sense of personal responsibility towards its successful completion.

In the next post, I will go into some more detail about how Terry Schmidt recommends you engage the stakeholders throughout the course of the project.