Project Management

5 Ways to Improve Project Communication

Perhaps you have not climbed the peak of the Great Communicator Mountain yet. What can you do to get there? In a post at the Project Risk Coach, Harry Hall provides five easy pointers to turn you into Ronald Reagan (or some apolitical facsimile):

  1. Practice active listening.
  2. Keep your project management teams small.
  3. Use more interactive communication.
  4. Focus on your nonverbal skills.
  5. Plan your project meetings.

Become McDonald Pagan

Active listening is like regular listening, except you make a conscious effort to retain what you are hearing for longer than those first three seconds. To achieve this, make eye contact with the person speaking, and also mentally repeat back pertinent phrases and ideas that you hear them say. The idea is to fully understand where the other person is coming from before inputting your two cents.

Another tip is to keep your project team small if you can help it. This is because more team members means more communication channels—and also the potential to forget to communicate information. Bigger teams arrive at decisions slower as well. Hall recommends keeping small project teams for daily planning and execution, and if other people are affected by decisions made, then this information can be emailed forward to them as meeting minutes.

About more interactive communication, Hall says this:

If you have a habit of mostly pushing project information (e.g., sending emails), you will likely encounter communication issues. Why? Because you don’t know if the person read and understood the information. Interactive, two-way communication, allows individuals to acknowledge the receipt of the information and respond with questions for clarification.

Your body language and the rhythm and pitch of your voice often convey more than your actual words. As a simple rule, you can increase interactive communication whenever you see people starting to misunderstand things, because audible conversation will likely clear up confusion. At the least, you can clarify ambiguous wording used in past emails.

Hall’s final tip for better communication is to plan your project meetings. People hate meetings because they are not properly planned and structured. By planning and structuring your meetings, you remove the question of, “Will this meeting actually accomplish anything?”

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