Communications are the backbone of any change activity. Done well, they keep you engaged with your stakeholders. And by listening to the people whose tools and processes are about to change you derisk your project.
Communications must be planned
As with all planning, we start with the goal. What do you want to achieve? The answer ‘general awareness’ is not allowed. Keep asking why in this example “why do you need general awareness?”
Then decide how you will deliver your communications. Do you employ an email cascade? Do you have an intranet? Are team meetings preferable to companywide presentations?
Now write your communication plan. Remember to consult the six honest serving-men.
Quality is your watch word
Format is important. It should scream professionalism and you may choose to brand your communications to make the subject clear. But don’t give the impression you have nothing better to do with your time than play with PowerPoint.
The basics matter. Check your spelling and grammar. Make sure you use project terminology consistently and explain it where necessary. Ask a second pair of eyes what they understand from the communication. Think about Plain English.
One mouth, two ears
We must listen to the concerns and risks our stakeholders raise. Good communications encourage feedback. And good project teams build feedback into their project plans.
I worked for an Engineering Director who hated workshops. He was so smart that he knew what he wanted and could structure his thoughts. The rest of us need help.
Workshops or facilitated sessions generate ideas, highlight risks and make decisions. Planning a workshop is like planning a project in that we set goals and work out the best way of achieving those goals. But delivering a workshop is a people skill. It requires patience, good communications, flexibility and organisation. I deliver all this and make sure your team gets a written follow-up with actions, so that your workshops work.