Project teams are in a constant state of communication via email, videoconferences, telephone calls, texts, face-to-face discussions and even nonverbal interactions. Whatever media they use, project teams will increase their chances of achieving their goals if they develop successful strategies for keeping everyone informed about what’s going on.
Here are some tips for communicating effectively during the course of a project.
1. Meet regularly
Hold regular strategy meetings for the entire team. This gives everyone an opportunity to be present while project activities and changes are being discussed and creates a level playing field by giving all team members a chance to voice ideas concerns and share status updates. To reduce wasted time, try to limit meetings to 50 minutes; that gives everyone a few minutes for administrative work or downtime — or simply a chance to get to the next meeting.
To ensure that meetings stay on schedule, do the following:
- Assign a timekeeper.
- Draft an agenda and send it to all team members prior to the meeting.
- Ask team members to be prepared to discuss the agenda items.
- Unless urgent, table any non-agenda issues raised, with the understanding that they will be up for discussion later.
- Schedule the next meeting in advance, and keep a record of discussion items to be carried forward.
2. Be inclusive
Make sure you don’t leave anyone out when you invite people to meetings or send out reports about recent developments. If you’re not sure whether certain people need to be involved in a meeting or kept in the loop about the latest project activities or updates, err on the side of caution and include them. It’s always better to gain more input from more people than limited input from just a few team members who are regarded as key players.
[Related: 8 quick ways to increase your PM knowledge]
At the project kick-off meeting, ask the team members about their communication preferences. One option is to use project software that includes a portal that can serve as a central hub of communication. Compared with relying on email and an assortment of other communication tools, a central portal decreases the likelihood that people will be excluded from conversations that are important to them.
3. Be transparent, clear and concise
Communication can be time-consuming in any form. You can avoid wasting other people’s time (and your own) by being transparent, clear and concise. Prior to picking up the telephone, typing an email or scheduling a meeting, take a moment or two to consider the following:
- The purpose of the communication.
- The audience. (Are they team members, executives, vendors, clients or other stakeholders?)
- The desired outcome.
- Whether you will need to refer back to the conversation later or provide details of it to others.
- Whether, in light of the factors above, you’re using the best medium for the type of communication you have in mind.
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