Every project manager should work closely with stakeholders – relevant people associated with your project whose opinions and actions have a direct impact on the project outcome. It is “crucial” because 30% of projects fail due to poor communication.
Establishing ground rules for effective stakeholder communication will save time, eliminate obstacles, and ultimately finish the project on time and on budget. Your company should utilize a variety of communication methods when communicating with stakeholders. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method of communication described below, so choose the right one based on the message you want to convey.
Schedule a Meeting
Stakeholder meetings are the most common communication method in place for corporations, especially since they can save time in conveying the message to a large number of people. Best ways to communicate the message would be PowerPoint, Prezi or any of the mind mapping software solutions available online. Being in the same room with stakeholders should avoid misinterpretation issues.
However, beware that with growing distributed teams, scheduled meetings are becoming a thing of the past. With growing online platforms that ensure real-time transparency, clients are no longer passive consumers of information. Delivering periodic reports without continuous communication will not cut it anymore.
Schedule a Conference Call
Conference calls are most commonly used in situations where the issue is too urgent for a meeting. So whenever you feel there is an obstacle that needs to be resolved immediately you can schedule a conference call, which can be arranged in the matter of minutes/hours. Have in mind that conference calls are better for one way communication so it would be a good idea to have an agenda prepared before the conference call starts.
Lunch meetings would fall into the informal communication category of stakeholders meetings. They would be a great idea for getting honest feedback or getting stakeholders to sign off on a particular idea you have in mind. Have in mind that informal meetings can be just as effective as the official ones.
Separate Online “Screen to Screen” Meetings
As time-consuming as they can be, separate face to face meetings are the best way to get the message across stakeholders. Not everyone responds to your presentation style equally, so by meeting stakeholders separately, you can address their concerns in more detail and with greater control. Of course, again, as a result of the graphically dispersed teams and the growing trend of including independent contractors in projects “screen to screen” is becoming the new “face to face”, since so many of the meetings are held via online communication and collaboration platforms. Having a presentation is optional; you are better off focusing on the dialogue.
Send out a Newsletter
You can use the company’s intranet or collaboration platform to define a newsletter to be sent out to stakeholders at specified intervals using the company’s intranet or collaboration platform. Involving even stakeholders who are not directly involved in your project can be a great idea. Remember that e-mail is a one-way communication channel, so avoid using it for urgent matters.
Project Summary Report
Project summary reports are usually sent out in predefined periods (weekly, monthly). The protocol is already agreed upon here, so if your project is running on time and within budget, you should not have any concerns. Backed up with data and statistics you should highlight the top performing parts of your project and reassure the stakeholders you have the situation in control.
There is no right way to communicate effectively with stakeholders, but by using your judgment and assessing which of the above strategies work best within a project or an organization, you can get the most out of your communications and ultimately your projects!
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