Develop your communication skills or your projects will fail!

I have been collating statistics on a number of aspects of project management for quite some time. This includes project management communications.

67% of people said that communications were poor in their projects. This is a huge percentage and has remained pretty constant for quite a while.

I came across an article with entitled; “How to sell an EA project to your stakeholders”.* This article lists 10 ideas for communicating with stakeholders. These are listed below:

  1. Define your objectives – Clearly define what you really need/want (Sponsorship, support, resources, behavioral or procedural change or set expectations).
  2. Identify your stakeholders – Before you start talking to others, get an idea of who is decision maker, influencer for your project and do also take different perspectives into account
  3. Understand their needs – Follow the “pain chain” and analyze the problem from different view points
  4. Speak in their language – Prepare your “sales pitch” tuned to your target group and use audience specific language! Do not talk what you need to say, talk what they need to hear!
  5. Craft the messages – Talk about benefits for your stakeholders don’t bore them with functions and features talk.
  6. Select the channel – How should you address your stakeholders? This will probably depend on your organizational hierarchy or your company culture. The most common channels are face-to-face, email or a website. To prepare e.g. a steering committee meeting, adjust your presentation or ideas first with some or all members previous to the meeting.
  7. Practice your pitch – Be specific and compelling in what you’re talking about and test your message! Do not overestimate the power of words on your slides. Researches confirm that the audience remembers only 7% of written words, but 38% of your vocal speech and even 55% of your body move.
  8. Handle objections – Anticipate possible objections and think about an objections handle process. Always keep in mind that objections demonstrate interest in what you say.
  9. Invite a dialogue – No one wants to be talked at, especially not your management, so evoke participation, listen to proposals and objections and be ready to adopt and reconsider.
  10. Create a plan – Avoid management by chaos! Create a clear set of objectives, plan your resource coordination, set milestones for your project and communicate it to your stakeholders.

*See the full article here

Unless we really develop our communication skills projects will still fail to deliver. Big and bold statement? yes, but one supported by Prof John Beckford at Project Challenge recently. See his presentation here

Project management communications is not simply about an email and the occasional meeting; communications needs planning, it needs rehearing especially when bringing about change and it needs to be appropriate to the person or the group.

Over to you! 

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