Ann Pilkington, author Communicating Projects, says that a good communicator is one who is a good networker and builds effective working relationships within the project as well as with the wider organization.
Communication skills are essential for effective communication. What exactly are “good communication skills”? Ann outlines the soft and technical skills you need to communicate effectively with your project. Here’s my take.
Ann states that to be a strategic advisor, you must communicate effectively. This includes:
Board level work
If asked, provide strategic counsel (and sometimes I imagine when not asked).
Advanced skills in stakeholder management
Advanced skills in influencing
How to use research as a tool to inform strategy
Ability to communicate in terms that are easily understood by your business partners
Building strong relationships
To improve your work, you can learn from the best practices and the most recent thinking.
Supporting other managers/teammembers in their communication skills
Strategic communication is a way to get your project in front of the board. It also allows you to participate in strategic discussions that have an impact on your project. This will allow for you to offer advice on the project and how communication should proceed.
You will need to have the respect of your board-level colleagues if you want this role to be successful. If you don’t have the gravitas to make this happen, ask your sponsor.
Communication must also be technical and hands-on. Project managers must be:
Writing skills are important. For example, the ability to create clear reports on project management.
Experience in managing a variety communication channels (e.g. email, social communication, presentations etc)
Understanding how to manage design projects and print projects to prepare printed communications like leaflets
Attention to detail – There is nothing worse than sending mail to people with incorrect names, which could damage your credibility.
Understanding the project management process and how communication fits into it.
The outputs of technical project communication are defined as:
Intranet and social media sites
There are many ways to communicate with project stakeholders. You can ask a designer to create a drop-leaflet for your desk, or to build a wiki to record lessons learned.
Technical writing skills are crucial to help you create a story and tailor it to your audience. Then, you will need to follow up to confirm that your message was received. My company can help you if this isn’t your strongest skill.
It is important to have confidence in your abilities. This will allow you to communicate effectively and avoid feeling overwhelmed or unable to do the job.
Communication can be difficult to master and easy for mistakes to be made. Be confident in your convictions, plan well, and go for it!
Check out my review on Communicating Projects.