Communications Skills for Project Managers

PM COmms Why did I choose this resource? I chose this resource because effective communications is critical to project success. Clear and accurate transmission of information directly impacts the successful completion and implementation of project tasks. Poor communications lead to project failure. Often, the source of conflict within our company, and externally with clients, is a result of communications failures (e.g., not keeping the client informed, lack of clarity about tasks outputs and deadlines). In order to improve our overall execution and delivery, effective communications practices must be established throughout the company.   What did you learn from it?

  • Good communications keeps everyone involved, from the project team to the top brass
  • Project failure generally relates in some way to poor communications
  • It can unify your stakeholders and build cooperation for your goals
  • Build your communications program by analyzing your audience, planning your  message and choosing the right person to deliver it.
  • People “backslide” from change if they receive ineffective explanations. Overseeing a project means managing and communicating about change.
  • A project manager must meet the varied communication needs of all stakeholders
  • Remain aware of company politics and perceptions so your message is on target.

Key Knowledge

  • A survey of 500 project managers found that poor communications is the most common  cause of project failure
  • Projects which have active management involvement and a good,  consistent flow of communication among team members and stakeholders achieved higher  rates of success.
  • Communications planning & execution is paramount for project success
  • Communications flow is multi-directional – must give and receive information effectively

Leadership Roles

  • sponsor makes the project succeed  and communicates with executives
  • champion conveys the project’s business value  to others in the company
  • working committee delivers the project’s actual benefits  to customers

Project Charter

  • authorizes the work and defines the funding, duties, scope,  assumptions, risks, benefits and schedule
  • should be specific and easy to  understand, with short, simple sentences
  • clearly describe the business problem in the project charter, which explains the situation  and highlights primary issues
  • “Scope” defines what the project will and will not  accomplish
  • should also include an assessment of anticipated risks

Core Elements of Communications

  • Analyze your target audience
  • Present information clearly according to audience members’ needs (i.e., tables, graphs, or reports)
  • Word the message clearly (NOTE: avoid jargon and consultant speak when not dealing with technical teams)
  • Specify  the reason you are sending a message

Communications Strategies

  • Move in order from the most important information to the least important
  • State the problems and then the solutions
  • Use the big-picture approach
  • Show how the new approach is different

How are you using what you learned?

  • Poor communications leads to a mismatch between assumptions and expectations on the one hand, and what actually happens on the other
    • We are improving our communications processes to eliminate this mismatch
  • Our goal with good communications is to eliminate the unknowns
  • We are outlining and developing new communications requirements based on
    • Anant team input
    • Experiences with clients / internal projects
    • Client feedback

Key Changes / Key Actions

  • Put project risk matrix back into Project Charters
  • Place more emphasis and importance on Planning & Discovery and Design & Architecture
  • Be much explicit when detailing
    •  requirements
    • workflow / processes
    • personas
  • Must be able to explain why the firm is undertaking the project and  creating change


  • Name : Communications Skills for Project Managers
  • Author : Michael Campbell
  • Link to Summary

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