You don't have to be a "good communicator" to be good at communication

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Not all communication is the same. When we talk about communication on projects let’s be clear what we mean.

I wonder sometimes if project managers shy away from communication because it is perceived as something that is about being out-going, chatty with lots of small talk. Of course, these are great skills but do not in themselves enable successful project communication.

For me, communication in a project context is a planned activity with the aim of helping the project to hit its milestones and deliver its benefits. Often it seems communication is only discussed in terms of interpersonal communication or leadership communication. Discussion around these forms of communication can also sometimes seem a bit too conceptual and frankly intimidating. They matter of course, but I would argue if the focus is just on these we are missing the bigger picture and project managers may withdraw from communicating completely because it all just seems a bit too difficult.

A planned approach to communication will encompass these anyway. The great advantage of looking at project communication from a planned perspective and with tangible outcomes is that interpersonal and leadership communication are given a clear objective. When you know why you are doing something, it becomes a heck of a lot easier.

A good communication strategy and plan will identify the stakeholders to be engaged with, to what end and set out who will do that engagement. A good project communication lead will identify the best person to lead on engagement with a particular stakeholder and this may or may not be the project manager. The sponsor may be best placed, or maybe someone else on the project who has an existing relationship with a stakeholder or detailed knowledge of a particular area.

So let’s start talking about project communication as a planned activity with clear outcomes.
 

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Posted by Ann Pilkington on 21st Jul 2015

About the Author
Ann is the author of Communicating Projects published by Gower and a chapter author in Exploring Internal Communication published by Gower. As an independent communication consultant she specialises in leading communication on major change programmes. She is also a director of PR Academy which is a leading providers of education and training in all aspects of communication. Her early career was in journalism before moving to PR and communication rolls with major companies including Barclays, BT and The AA. She sits on People SIG and is also a fellow of the RSA where she volunteers her communication expertise to help members' projects.

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