How to Communicate the Right Way on Your Project

project communication

In this article, you will see how planning makes communication easy. You will see that by breaking your project down into four stages will make it easier to communicate. In the article, you will learn the communication for each stage. If you take this approach it helps you break down the communication. It ensures audiences get the right information at the right time.

The 23rd July 1983 was a hot sunny day, and an Air Canada 767 was flying from Montreal and Edmonton. Halfway through the journey at 41,000ft over Red Lake, Ontario the plane’s cockpit noise sounded. The warning indicated a fuel pressure problem. Then within seconds, the left engine went out. The crew tried to find an alternative place to land on one engine while trying to restart the left engine. Then the right engine went out leaving no engines and half the instruments blank. The pilot Captain Robert Pearson glided the plane down to a disused airfield. His actions saved all 69 people on board.

The cause of the problems was later found to be a lack of fuel. When refuelling the plane there had been confusion between pounds and kilograms. Whether it is communicating or aviation, ensuring clarity is critical. Clarity is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page.

How Planning Makes Communication Easy

Depending on the stage a project is at will change the type of communication and the audience. For example, the communication is completely different at the start than at the end. The trick to good communication is to plan in advance what to communicate. Then as your project reaches certain stages you will know what to communicate. Planning your communication will increase the chance of people hearing your message. Often people will complain about a lack of communication. But very few people will complain if you over communicate.

To make communication easier to plan, break down your project into four stages. For each stage think in advance of the type, audience and frequency of your communication.

The 4 stages are:

  • Feasibility
  • Planning
  • Delivery
  • Closure

What to Communicate at Each Stage of Your Project

Feasibility Stage Communication

In the feasibility stage of any project, you have to communicate what your project is all about. Why is your team creating a new training system for employees? What types of problems will this system address? How will you build the system? How long will it take? And who does this system benefit?

The way you tackle these questions depends on your audience. All the low interest / low influence people need is a short email. The high interest / low power people might have lots of questions. A short question and answer session may be more appropriate for them. Send out an intriguing infographic to win over low interest / high power executives. The high interest / high power people are difficult to deal with as they need lots of attention. So, consider setting up a private forum or chatroom. Check in there every day to provide detailed updates and to answer questions.

Planning Stage Communication

Communication during the planning stage needs to be about what to deliver and when. Who is doing what? When are they going to do it? These are the sort of questions that need answering at this stage. Completing the task on time has a higher chance when people are accountable for their tasks. You can do this by making it public knowledge on who is doing what and when.

The audience for this type of communication are people working on the project and the owner. Make sure the plan that outlines who is doing what is visible to everyone. This will also reduce the amount of queries you will get about the plan. Communicating the plan before work starts also give people a chance to ask questions. They can point out any potential problems such as upcoming time off.

Delivery Stage Communication

The delivery stage communication is a continuation from the planning stage. It is about what tasks are complete and what is the next task that follows. Is the project still on track? Have any issues come up? Communication is about demonstrating progress against the plan. It is also about showing the control of risks and issues. The one major area that requires early communication is any changes to the plan. Whether it is due to tasks running late or a new issue it is critical to communicate the delay. Show what caused the delay and the new timescales this will help with clarity of the plan.

There is a danger that communication during this stage is often negative. For example, plan running behind. Make sure you communicate successful milestones completion as well as delay. Communicate when project team members perform well. Name the people and highlight their success. This will help give balance and should stop any negative perception of your project.

Closure Stage Communication

In this closure, stage communication is all about evaluating and completing the project. Is the outcome achieved? What lessons have been learnt? Also, confirm to everyone when you have closed the project.

Clear communication around the handover is critical to the bedding in of the project. Make sure people know what to do and who to turn to if they have a problem. Make sure the person taking it over feels able to support the delivered project.

A good final piece of communication is to thank everyone that worked on the project. Make sure the thank you is public so all project stakeholders are aware. Always try and get the owner of the project, the sponsor, to sign a form. The form shows completed work, not complete work and confirms project closure. It is important to do this as it stops people from making changes at the end and expects the project team to do the work. Every project to be a project must have a definite end.

These are the four different stages of communication throughout a project. This approach helps break down the communication. It ensures audiences get the right information at the right time.

Summary
To make communication easier to plan, break down your project into four stages. For each stage think in advance of the type, audience and frequency of your communication.

The 4 stages are:

  • Feasibility
  • Planning
  • Delivery
  • Closure

The trick to good communication is to plan in advance what to communicate. Remember to be on honest and transparent with the communication.

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