How I do it: Communication Tools and Tips

Today, I want to shine a spotlight on my management of projects. Regular readers will know that I am particularly interested in communication between people involved in projects.
I’d like to share my methods for managing stakeholder communications on projects. I’ve also covered the how’ of stakeholder communication before. I don’t claim to have extraordinary results with the strategies I use, but it’s always fascinating to see how others do it.
If you don’t know the identity of your stakeholder, you can’t communicate with them. Get a free stakeholder list from my project management resource library. This will allow you to keep track of who’s involved in your projects, making communication much easier.
Communication Strategy #1: Meetings
I don’t like to miss meetings. In a recent discussion on someone commented that the goal should be no meetings, but I don’t think that’s feasible or realistic on the projects I do.
However, I try to keep my time as short and as frequent as possible. I’m used to working for 45 minutes a week. I can’t recall the last time I attended a team meeting face to face. We do them over the phone because we have a team that is split.
You might be able to have fewer meetings if you have great collaboration tools. As long as your tools are used and meet the needs of the team, you can do so.
I adapt project meetings to the stage of each project. In the beginning, we have more meetings with senior stakeholders and then again towards closing. The middle is when there are more operational meetings to keep things moving forward. These meetings are included because I believe that the project team is a stakeholder group and they deserve the same respect and consideration around project communications as everyone else.
In this article, I discussed how I divide my time and who gets communications.
Communication Strategy #2: Phone
As I mentioned, I use the telephone a lot for team meetings. Despite this, I rarely send stakeholders texts. Although I will respond to messages, I rarely consider them my first choice when I have to say something.
I will use the phone if I have to do a lot on a given day, but my personal preference is…
Communication Strategy #3: Email
I love email. Although I don’t like the feeling of information overload when my email inbox reaches over 100 messages, I love email.
I am a writer. What would you expect? I can also type quickly.
So, email, phone or other?
I choose based on my personal preferences, but also on the message I’m trying to communicate.
You must first define the message and who it is for, then determine the best way to get the message across.
People shouldn’t tell you to use one way of communicating. While there is no one way that is bad for communicating, you should remember that each method can be used for different purposes.
How to get the right tone
I try to be professional and polite, but not too friendly. When things aren’t going according to plan, I can use my stern voice. It’s the same voice I use to tell my pre-schoolers to draw on the dining room walls using chalk.
It all depends on what I want and who I’m talking to.
You get to know your team members best. The culture of your organization will influence the tone you use in communication.
OtherComms Tools
Here’s a photo of some of the other communication tools I used for projects, both in the present and the past.
I use a variety of methods to keep the messages interesting and relevant.
Different methods can give you different feedback loops because communication is not a one-way process. A presentation will give you more feedback than a desk drop (that is, a paper leaflet that you leave on someone’s table the morning a change is made or a project goes live).

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