Improving Project Communication: Collection of Tips, Strategies and Tools for the Project Manager
written by: Donna Cosmato
• edited by: Michele McDonough
• updated: 11/11/2011
Do you know what to do when team members have meltdowns or stakeholders overstep boundaries? If you want to become a better communicator and avoid misunderstandings and conflicts, you'll love this collection of tips and tools to help you communicate effectively in any situation or to any audience.
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Sharpen Your Skill Sets
Whether you are just starting out in your project management career or you are a veteran of the project management wars, there are probably times when you felt like your communication skills were inadequate for a situation, or you wished you had a better answer.
The good news is communication skills are quickly improved by following some tips and advice from others who have been in similar situations. Unlike methodologies and some other PM skills, you won't need to go back to school or study until the wee hours of the night to get the necessary knowledge base.
Here we have gathered the very best of the articles written by our project management experts on the subject of communication. We'll give you insider tips on how to overcome the most common communication barriers or how to end a conversation that is going nowhere. Learn to defuse conflict before it starts and keep the channels of communication flowing both ways.
Verbal communication is typically pretty straightforward and understandable. While you may need to use a few probing or open-ended questions to uncover hidden meanings or objections, you can usually do this fairly quickly. However, what happens when you are faced with body language or nonverbal communications?
Interpreting these signals can be tricky especially if you are not that familiar with them, and because you are making subjective assumptions rather than asking clarifying statements, the risks of misunderstand or miscommunication is high.
Here is some solid advice to teach you how to read body language and non-verbal signals and decode their hidden messages:
The world's greatest salespeople know that they have to tailor their message to their audience if they want to make the sale. While you may not consider yourself to be a salesperson, that is one of the many project management hats that you will need to don during your career.
You'll be selling your team on meeting milestones, staying under budget and on task, and moderating discussions and resolving conflicts. You need one communication style to address this group, but you will have to switch gears and adopt another style for your communications to stakeholders.
Throw in the need to communicate with individuals of different cultures and customs, and you see you have your work cut out for you. Here's a selected group of tips and techniques that will help you match your communication style to your audience for best success.
While you probably appreciate the value of a status report as a communication tool, you probably dread the thought of preparing one or developing a communication plan. However, procrastination or avoidance of this crucial task is a sure recipe for project failure. To keep your project on task and successful, you will need to master the art of communicating via status reports.
In the articles below, you will find real-world tips on how to use these reports to spot problem areas and tackle them promptly or keep stakeholders up to date on important completed milestones. If you need tips on the best collaborative software to help you streamline this important but time-consuming task, we have provided that as well.
Technology is a dual-edged sword. While it enables you to communicate at the speed of light, it also hurls your mistakes, misquotes and misdirected communication at that same lightning fast speed across the Internet. Words that would not come across as hard or offensive when spoken aloud can sound harsh or critical in print.
While your message may have been intended for a small, select audience, you could discover that it has been forwarded and sent to unintended recipients with disastrous results. Even worse, what happens if someone edits or changes what you wrote originally? Fine-tuning your email communication skills is a must for any project manager who wants his or her trip up the corporate ladder to be short, sweet and successful.
This is our favorite part of the creation process because it is here that we get to invite our readers to share their feedback. How helpful was this collection of articles? Did it make your job as a project manager easier or harder? Would you recommend this to your colleagues?
Please share your comments and suggestions in the comment section below. As a project manager yourself, you understand that client feedback is the best way to improve your product for the next project cycle. We love hearing from our readers and incorporating their ideas to make our product even better. Thanks for helping us succeed!