All project managers know that communication skills form the backbone of their ability to succeed in their roles. With communication channels spidering out from your project in all directions, to stakeholders, teammembers, managers and more, it makes sense to ensure you excel when it comes to communication skills.
Being a project manager means being able to use a variety of communication methods equally well. If you feel less comfortable with some forms of communication than others, then you need to work out which areas you feel are lacking and take steps to make improvements.
Some people love to talk, whereas others would rather write things down. If you are more keen to send an email than you are to pick up the phone, or to hand out a memo than to run a team meeting, these are signs that perhaps you are not the most confident of verbal communicators.
As a project manager, being able to clearly, concisely and confidently speak out is a key element of your skill set. You will need to be able to inform stakeholders, persuade funders and motivate teams with your words, so if you feel you could brush up on verbal communication, taking a course in confident speaking could be of benefit.
There are no big secrets to good verbal communication, it is all about understanding your subject, finding your confidence and being comfortable in expressing yourself out loud. If you are a nervous speaker, being well prepared can help, so make notes before meetings or have lists to hand that will help you remember all the things you wanted to discuss.
Just as some people are not confident speaking up, others would rather not have to write things down. Many people who are confident speakers struggle to get their ideas down on paper, and just as you can’t overlook the important of good verbal communication, written ability is another facet that cannot be ignored.
Rather than avoid the need to write, a great strategy for improving your written communication is to throw yourself into it whole heartedly. Take opportunities to write things for the project, such as plans, specifications, reports and get it checked over by a colleague with a flair for writing before you send it out. The part of the brain that looks after written communication is a muscle like any other, so the more you exercise it, the easier the task will become.
Many project managers forget the third type of communication – the listening, Being able to effectively listen when you are being spoken to or when you are reading an email or document is as important in project management as any amount of talking and writing. As PM, you will often be the one doing most of the talking or writing in meetings and workshops, but make the time and calm your thoughts enough to really listen to what others have to say.
A good way for a project managerto develop good listening skills is to delegate the speaking and writing for some of the time, letting you sit back and focus on what is happening around you. Let other members of the team give presentations, or ask them to run a workshop on your behalf. The opportunity to really listen and understand what is going on with your team is a valuable asset in any project management environment, so make it happen yourself.