Ann Pilkington, author of Communicating Projects, writes that a successful communicator is a good networker who builds effective working relationships within the project and with the wider organization.
To be able communicate effectively, you need to have good communication skills. But what exactly are ‘good communication skills? Ann outlines the technical and soft skills that you need to communicate effectively on your project. Here’s my take.
Ann says that you must be able communicate effectively as a strategic adviser. This includes:
Board level work
Provide strategic counsel when asked (and I imagine sometimes when not asked).
Advanced skills in stakeholder management
Advanced influencing skills
How to use research to inform strategy
Being able speak in terms that are understood by the rest of your business
Building strong relationships
You can learn from best practices and the latest thinking in order to improve your work.
Supporting other managers/team members in their communication skills
Strategic communication helps get your project in front the board and allows you to be involved in strategic discussions that impact your project. This will allow you to give advice on the project and how communication should be managed.
If you want to succeed in this role, you will need the respect of your board-level colleagues. If you don’t have the gravitas, you can ask your project sponsor to do it.
Communication must also be at a technical, hands-on level. This requires project managers to be:
Writing skills are important, such as the ability to write clear reports on project management.
Experience in managing a variety of communication channels (e.g. email, social communication, presentations etc)
Understanding of how to manage design and print projects in order to prepare printed communications such as leaflets
Attention to detail – there is nothing worse than a mailing to people with incorrect names that could undermine your credibility!
Understanding the project management process and how communication fits in.
Technical project communication results are defined outputs such as:
Intranet and social media websites
There are many techniques for project communications. You can brief a designer to create a drop leaflet for your desk or build a wiki to capture lessons learned.
Technical writing skills are essential to help you create a story, tailor it for your audience, present it clearly, and then follow up to verify that your message was understood. If this isn’t your strongest skill, you can hire my company to do it.
Confidence in your abilities is essential. This will help you avoid wasting time communicating or feeling like you don’t know enough to do anything.
Communication can be very difficult to master and easy to make mistakes. Be confident in your convictions, plan well and go for it!
Check out my review of Communicating Projects.