Communication theory and practice: Including skills.
Communication Theory. To make
communication effective, careful thought has to be given
to the choice of media and message, how the message will
be delivered (and who will deliver it) and the best
writing, or presentation style to use based on the
personality of the person you wish to communicate with.
This paper provides the framework for effective
The three types of stakeholder
communication. There are three general classes
of communication that are needed in an effective
stakeholder management: Traditional
reporting; Project relations (PR - marketing);
and Directed communication focused on achieving an
effect. This paper explains how they work together for
effective stakeholder communication.
Active Listening and Effective Questions.
Listening is a conscious activity which requires
attention. The right types of question support effective
listening and can influence conversations and decisions.
These two skills in combination are very powerful.
a Successful Engagement. (managing key stakeholder's
expectations) Projects will only be considered successful
when their key stakeholders acknowledge they are a
success. This requires the project team to
effectively engage with each of its key stakeholders to
understand and manage their expectations and then deliver
to project to meet or exceed the ‘managed
upwards: managing the perceptions and expectations of
senior management stakeholders. The experiences of
the authors, in large organisations, in managing the
expectations and the support of key senior stakeholders
provides a foundation for exploration of the tasks needed
to turn a Commander into a Sponsor, how to use the
resources available in the form of influence networks,
targeted communication and plain persistence. Results are
not miraculous, small improvements must be celebrated, the
possibility of failure contemplated.
Understanding Design - The challenge of
informed consent. The need to communicate
effectively is a vital component of leadership. You cannot
lead people if they don’t understand you; ‘blind trust’
only works if the solution is straightforward. When
problems arise, uninformed trust evaporates; whereas
informed consent from committed followers is more
enduring, and people are likely to support any efforts to
work through to a solution to the problem.
Have we communicated? “The
major problem in communication is the illusion that it has
occurred”. This paper looks at some of the problems in
Art: Stop the world I want to get off
Far too many good ideas are hidden in a fog of academic
prose, technical jargon and/or dense, complex writing as
this light hearted paper demonstrates.
Art: Stakeholder’s Don’t Understand Numbers!.
Project controls processes and project reports are
full of numbers and calculations and one would think that
most project stakeholders, particularly senior managers,
would see and understand the numbers in the same way.
Unfortunately resent research suggests this is not
Communicate? Data in a control tool is useless until
it is communicated in the right way to the right people to
help manage the project.
≠ Engagement Social media and web technologies
have made broadcast communication in the 21st century
easier then ever, but communication does not equal
engagement! This paper demonstrates the importance of
senior stakeholder engagement for project success and then
suggest practical options to achieve this.
Writing Documentation. Effective
writing is a key communication medium for all aspects
of project management. This paper outlines several
universal rules for effective business writing.
Page Layout & Design. The
concept of layout design is separate from content design.
Good document design will not overcome badly written
content; but a poorly designed document will significantly
reduce your reader’s comprehension of the message you are
trying to convey.
Presentation Skills. Public speaking
is one of the hardest things to master. This paper covers
the preparation and presentation of information in a
public forum including creating and using effective
Effective Explanations. Explanation
is a key communication skill for making ideas,
products, and services easier to understand.
What is your personal brand? If you
want a stakeholder to ‘buy into’ your ideas, believe your
communication or take action on your recommendations they
need to recognise you as a credible messenger, how they
perceive you is framed by your 'personal brand'.
in organisations: making the schedule effective. The
schedule is a communication medium that can have a
powerful influence on the successful delivery of a
project, provided the information it contains is
understood and used. With effective communication,
the schedule can encourage the engagement of stakeholders,
assist in minimising risks and highlight issues.
What’s the message?? The way
schedule reports are designed can change the understanding
of key stakeholders.
Communications Control? This paper
explores how communication in the form of information
exchange controls and assists the work of organisations to
create value and drive performance,.
Advising Upwards for Effect. The
project team need to be able to effectively ‘advise
upwards’ so their executive managers understand the
potential value that can be generated from the project and
work to ensure the organisation makes effective use of the
Communicating Upwards for Effect.
The key to effective communication is clarity
created through simplicity. But frequently people use the
same words in similar context but apply completely
different meanings. We say something; they attribute their
different meaning and know they have understood exactly
what we’ve said – but their understanding is not what we
Influence without authority. How to
build credibility and acquire the ‘currency’ you need to
trade for the support and help you require.
How to influence others. Ways to use
the meeting environment, questions and body language to
positively influence others.
The role of Oration in Communication – a
lost art? You need to apply a completely different
set of skills and re-structure the information in a well
written document if you want to communicate the same
message verbally, this is the art of ‘oration’..
Is what you heard what I meant?
Effective communication between project stakeholders is
always difficult and misunderstanding and confusion are
easily created if information is not structured sensibly.
Communicating with Purpose There is
absolutely no point in communicating with someone if you
do not want an effect! The effect you are seeking can vary
dramatically, but you need to know what it is!
Mind your language - A picture may
tell a 1000 words, but it need to be a well designed
picture if the message is to be meaningful.
Rhetoric can backfire. The art of
effective persuasion and explanation is to enliven a
well constructed argument by the appropriate use of
rhetoric to engage with your audience and help them
understand and agree with the position you are putting.
However, if you base your whole position on the clever use
of rhetorical constructs expect the backfire as soon as
someone finds the weak point in your position and ‘pulls
There are no free steak knives!
Sales is a communication process, but the way offers are
framed can be designed to distort buying decisions -
beware of 'free offers'.
Project Reports and the PMBOK.
The PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition included a significant
refinement in the way project data is transformed into
useful project reports. The flow from raw data to
useful reports (processed information) is fairly well
defined; these concepts are expanded in the 6th Edition.
Communication tools and systems: Processes to gather
and communicate information.
Art: Communication planning.
Communication planning is an essential element in crafting
a communication strategy that will work to support the
success of the project.
Managing Meetings. To make meetings
effective, careful thought has to be given to the choice
agenda, attendees and the specific purpose of each
Wiser Group Decision Making. If ‘two
heads are better than one’ why do so many committees make
bad decisions? this article suggests some practical
Blg: Meeting Management - strategy and
tactics. If your job involves arranging meetings
then you need to get both your strategy and your tactics
right to create a short, effective, useful and enjoyable
experience for everyone!
Facilitation. Facilitation is the
effective deployment of the processes and tasks needed to
run a productive and impartial meeting.