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Poor communication can derail the project at every stage of the project delivery life cycle. From uncertain goals and badly formulated requirements at the beginning of the project, to disenfranchised stakeholders, bad planning and completely missing the outcome of the project. Let’s have a look at what you can do to get this important part of your project right. What do you need to consider? 
 
Start with a clear Communication Plan 
Excellent communication skills are key for any Project Manager. The Project Manager’s main job is to communicate with all stakeholders of the project. This will take up the majority of your time on the project. 
 
Like everything in project management, communication works best when it follows a well laid out plan. Developing an effective Communication Plan follows the principle of the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why. 
 
Who needs to be communicated with 
This is basically the list of all stakeholders. Regular steering meetings are key to the success of a project. Of course, not all stakeholders need to attend every meeting. The communication plan specifies who is needed for which meetings at what stage of the process. 
 
The Project Manager should always be at the centre of communication. They are the person who has to hold all information and needs to make adjustments to the project accordingly. 
 
What needs to be communicated 
Any information pertinent to the project will need to be communicated. This includes clear goals set by the stakeholders, updates about any unforeseen changes that could have an impact on the project as well as project progress. 
 
To report the progress of the project, charts, tables and diagrams can be used to great effect. These can make communication clearer and complex concepts easier to understand. Remember, a picture paints a thousand words! 
 
When do you need to communicate – what’s the schedule 
This is a key part of the communication plan. There are probably going to be different schedules necessary for different stakeholders. More complex projects will require weekly and monthly updates as well as daily briefings. Not all meetings or briefings will require all stakeholders. 
 
Where will the communication take place and how 
Larger companies will rely on project management software. If stakeholders have access to this software, this will be a good place to enter relevant information to ensure it is stored centrally. 
 
Meetings are, of course, another way to communicate whether that’s in-person meetings or virtual meetings with stakeholders who are based all over the country or even worldwide. 
 
Also, is there a hierarchy of information flow that needs to be observed, or do all stakeholders communicate directly with the Project Manager? A communication plan will cover this. 
 
Why is the information important 
Is the information relevant to the progress and success of the project? Then it needs to be communicated. 
 
Obstacles to communication 
Nobody sets out to be misunderstood but it is not always easy to get the point across. There are multiple barriers to clear communication. Here are a few examples: 
Not wanting to convey bad news can make a message unclear. People might be trying to “cushion the blow”. 
Unclear communication rules such as who is going to communicate certain details; relying that “the other person will do it”. 
Different values and beliefs between the speaker and the recipient of the information. 
A varied knowledge of the subject can have an impact on the language used (“jargon”) which can lead to difficulty in understanding what’s being said. 
Even different time zones can impede communication. 
 
It is therefore very important to communicate as clearly and concisely as possible and to check back with your audience whether the information was received the way it was intended. It’s not only about hearing the message, it’s about understanding it completely. 
 
A useful resource for you 
I have created a complimentary Communication Plan template based on the above that you can simply download by clicking here
 
If you have found this article useful, please feel free to share it on LinkedIn or Twitter by using the sharing button below. Thank you! 
 
If you need any further assistance on the subject or have questions on wider project management activities then please get in touch on 0844 259 6210 or via our contacts page.  
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