September - Tips & Discussions

Posted by amc on 08/30/2017 10:40 am  /   Toastmasters

Project Management Toastmasters Clubs - Tips and Discussions

By Harold Eaton, PMI Houston Chapter Toastmasters Club

Quote:"Those who tell the stories rule the world” – Native American Proverb

-  Toastmaster International's "90 Tips From 90 Years"

17. Enjoy yourself. Choose a topic on something that is important to you, and that you feel passionate about. Your commitment to the topic will help sell the speech to your audience.

Can You Hear Me Now? How to boost your vocal power to say it like you mean it!

  •         Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our voices.
  •         When a voice is clear, smooth, and dynamic, the speaker is viewed as competent, confident and compelling. 
  •         Unclear, hesitant flat speech creates the opposite impression.

To objectively evaluate yourself, try recording your voice.  Download the free “Your Speaking Voice” from Toastmasters.  Like any other skill, your []

Common vocal problems that you can remedy:

  1.       Trailing Off
  2.       When you trail off, listeners miss part of your message
  3.       The Fix: Learn & Use diaphragmatic breathing techniques to breath to the end of a phrase.
  4.       Mumbling
  5.       Mumbling is usually caused by poor enunciation
  6.       The Fix: Loosen up and practice speaking with your mouth two finger width apart.
  7.       Vocal Fry
  8.       Vocal Fry happens when you speak in the lowest registers.
  9.       The Fix: Try breathing and voice relaxation techniques.
  10.       Monotone
  11.       Monotone voices lack intonation.  Intonation is critical to convey emotion and attitude.
  12.       The Fix: Develop intonation by practicing exaggeration.  Start with Anger.
  13.       Upspeak
  14.       Upspeak is a rising intonation at the end of a sentence.
  15.       The Fix: Practice making a difference with single word responses.

Improvement is up to you.  To improve a skill, plan short daily repetitions over a long period of time.  Daily practice gives you the opportunity to reinforce new skills and create a noticeable difference in your voice!

-Excerpted from Toastmaster magazine (August, 2017) authored by Lisa B. Marshall (


You can learn more about telling your stories at a Project Management Toastmasters Club! Project Management Toastmasters clubs are open to all, but members are predominately professional project managers. Houston Area Project Management Toastmasters Clubs are sponsored by PMI Houston and aligned with the goals of PMI® International.   Certified PMPs receive Professional Development Units (PDUs) for participation.  


Visit a meeting to discover the benefits of membership! 

Southwest Venue - September

Posted by amc on 08/30/2017 10:35 am  /   Program and Meetings

After the June hiatus for the PMI Houston Conference, the Southwest Venue continued its monthly meetings with Chris Delgado using an example us Houstonians can relate to: traffic, to illustrate how Monte Carlo analysis can help us plan and execute our projects realistically. And this month, Terry Suffredini, PE, spent the hour with us unscrambling various solutions to help us get through three issues that tend to stop us from leading more effectively:  

  •         Assumptions about ourselves, our luck, our demeanor
  •         Fears of failure, success, work/life balance
  •         Capacity to handle our work and theirs, people issues, and motivation

So how do we work through these difficulties and step up to the leadership plate? We need to: 

  •         Know what we want
  •         Stay true to ourselves
  •         Respect ourselves and others
  •         Be confident, or at least convey the perception of confidence
  •         Prioritize work
  •         Take care of ourselves physically
  •         Know what motivates – us and the team
  •         Have fun! 
In other Southwest Venue news, due to remodeling scheduled to occur at our Schlumberger location, we are temporarily relocating to another site in Sugarland. For September we are scheduled to meet at the First Colony Branch Library, 2121 Austin Parkway, Sugarland; however, we advise you to check the calendar on the PMI Houston site to ensure no last minute changes have occurred. Wherever we do meet, we want to see you there so come on down on Wednesday, September 20th, at 5:30 p.m., and join us for a good time of learning and networking! All you have to do is register at here and show up. Parking and snacks are free for all attendees! 


Posted by amc on 08/30/2017 10:15 am  /   Professional Interest

By Thomas Goebel, Volunteer Content Writer for the PMI Houston Chapter

A certain shoe-seller has insinuated itself into the public consciousness by proffering this tagline: “Just Do It!”  Indeed, why not?  When starting a project, many people are beset with an inability to grasp just where to begin. Known by its various forms – “writer’s block”, “analysis paralysis”, etc. – getting started can be the most daunting part of an undertaking for many.

The First Step

It’s often wise to begin at the beginning – that is, to identify the one or two steps that need to be taken before anything else can get done.  In a large project, these might be steps as innocuous as writing out the goals and objectives, creating a comprehensive list of stakeholders, or starting to identify 3rd party needs and providers.  All of these, of course, help lead to the project manager’s objectives of scoping out the project and managing cost and time.  Another first step could be to start a risk register.  Not all of the risks will be evident at the start, although some will be.  You can add to the register (and it’s important that you do!) and continually refine as the project progresses.

Workin’ With What You Got

It’s tempting to want to have a complete set of data and information, nicely packaged and wrapped with a bow, before embarking on a project.  In real life, though, we are often tasked with starting projects with little or no input, even from the contracting customer.  An important rule to remember is that as the project manager, you can only work with what you’ve been given.  Instead of trying to make “a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”, it is critical to avoid using biases (whether yours or the client’s) to overstep realistic boundaries.  Indeed, scheduling a “progress” meeting to illustrate just where information deficiencies exist can furnish the project manager with an excellent opportunity to present the client with hard evidence of how the client can help improve the project’s outcome by providing more and better data.

It’s Alive!

Earlier, I talked about the risk register as a living document.  In other words, the document as produced during inception doesn’t (and shouldn’t) resemble the one that makes it through the close of the project.  That’s because things change, and they don’t stop changing during the life of the project.  This is especially true for large projects, in which cost, schedule and scope can all take hits.  So why would you expect the start of the project to have to be perfect?  Isn’t it better to begin with the assumption that the start of the project is already a mistake, of sorts, that will need to undergo a series of corrections throughout the project’s life?  Keeping this in mind will take the heat off of the project manager, and let him or her move ahead, starting with the first steps that will require continual adaptation.


Initiation, Finally

The main point here is that you don’t need to have all of the pieces in place to begin, whether you’re digging a hole or building a refinery.  Go ahead.  Turn over the first spadeful of dirt.  What you turn up will tell you volumes about where to go next.