I’ve heard unverified claims that some project managers spend up to 90 percent of their time focusing on communications.
While I won’t dispute communications does tend to garner a lot of attention from project managers, I will say that calling the type of communications that project managers engage in straight up “communicating” is a bit of a disservice.
As project managers, we communicate less than we persuade. I’d offer up the idea that we spend far more time persuading stakeholders, sponsors and team members to see the project the way we do.
If we are persuaders instead of communicators, how can we do a much more effective job of influencing the decisions and thinking of our stakeholders?
Here are a few ideas:
1. Think in terms of what the other person needs to know: We have so much information coming at us that we might feel like the best course of action is to just give everything to everyone. The problem with this is that it is ineffectual and overwhelming. And too much information usually causes people to punt decisions or fall back on previous decisions.
That’s why it’s important to think about the people you are communicating with before you say a word.
What do they need to know?
What actions do you need them to take?
What do they already know?
Ask yourself questions like this and try to figure out what your audience needs to know to stay up to date, take action, or buy in.
2. Ask yourself what is the next logical step you need someone to take: You should never go into a conversation without an understanding of what the next step should be.
If it is an action, make sure you state that action clearly with a deadline if possible.
If you need the person on the other end to follow up by a certain time, set that expectation.
If you are just trying to update people, make sure you spell out the next step you are going to take, if that is applicable.
3. Frame your conversation around the benefits: This is pretty important. People love when you are doing something for them. The key to being persuasive is often to shape your conversation in a way that makes the person on the receiving end feel like they are gaining the maximum benefit and that you are just there to serve.
What tips do you have for being a more persuasive communicator?
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