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Folks, if you can’t communicate properly – get out of the project management business!

It is imperative that we learn how to get a message across to an individual, a group of people or a community. We have to understand how to package the information that someone requires or that we need them to have.

Now, that last sentence carries a big wallop. It means that before we send out a message we need to think about what they need and what they want – two very different things to a project manager. As well we need to think about what we want them to hear – very important.

I think the biggest rub against project manager is that we don’t know how to get the message across succinctly and quickly. We are too detailed and we want to spew way too much information.

One of the most important tools any project manager can carry with them is a communication plan. Look it up if you don’t know what this is. A matrix that forces a PM to think about who gets what, when, why and how. More importantly… who can make or break my project within the life cycle of the project.

Communicating properly is much more than a plan and more than a report well written.

Communicating well is:

  • A report well written for the right audience – note that we do not all have to get the same information all the time
  • Understanding how people receive or want to receive information – email reader or not; the right font size for the elderly baby boomer; the hard copy versus electronic version; the Friday night report versus the Monday morning report – these issues all make a difference.
  • Good presentation skills – crisp, clear, to-the-point and no jazz and pizzazz if it is not called for – this includes your Powerpoint slides. Take a course! Please!
  • Good verbal skills – worth re-training for many of us.
  • Good email skills – THIS IS SCREAMING! – long-winded email message are uncalled for.
  • Good phone skills – leave a message but please repeat the number twice – speak up and slow down please – I am deaf!

If you can’t say you are proficient at most of these skills – get some training. It is well worth it and your audience will appreciate it.


David Barrett is publisher of Project Times, Conference Director, ProjectWorld and BusinessAnalystWorld, and Program Director of The Masters Certificate in Project Management, Schulich Executive Education Centre.


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