Communication Strategies for Effective Project Management

A woman talking on a cell phone and working at her computer with a sheet of paper in hand.

Posted by Ariella Saucier on July 30, 2018

Project management is all about communicating with your team and making sure that your team members are communicating with each other. But what is the best way to do that? There are several communication strategies you can use to keep everyone coordinated and your projects running smoothly:

Addressing urgent needs

Phone calls or instant messaging (IM) through a service such as Skype are two great options to get in touch with a coworker quickly. Unlike an email, they both allow for more of a back-and-forth conversation; plus, some things are just easier to explain by talking, rather than typing it all out in an email.

If you’re using IM to get in touch with someone, keep the conversation short; save your in-depth discussions for conference calls or meetings. If you’ve ever fallen victim to the dreaded endless group chat that just keeps going (with that one person who always shares some ridiculous GIF while you’re trying to focus), you’ll know it’s not really designed for groups, either. So if you have many people to catch up with and a message that’s any longer than “Everyone ready?” or “Let’s meet downstairs now”, this probably isn’t the most ideal platform.

Details, details, details

If you’ve got a lot of details to communicate, there are a few approaches you can take. For those who like to take the time to gather their thoughts and lay everything down in writing, email is a nice way to do it. It gives a traceable line of communication to ensure that nothing is missed. You can also request read receipts if you really need to ensure that an email was opened.

You might prefer to sit down with a coworker (or coworkers) and present them with details or information by actually speaking to them. There’s no right or wrong way to go about it, but if you do have a lot of information to convey, it’s best to schedule a meeting and set a written agenda in advance, so that your fellow team members can prepare accordingly and block off time from their busy schedules.

Holding team meetings

For planned meetings with your team (or any group of people) to go over projects or maybe get some brainstorming in, it can be good to sit down face-to-face. Face-to-face communication helps us relate on a personal level, and makes it possible to read body language and nonverbal cues. It builds a foundation for a somewhat more personal, open relationship.

However, with more people working remotely and clients who aren’t right in your office, it’s not always possible to coordinate everyone’s schedule to hold an in-person meeting. You have other options to consider, though. Try and have a conference call, either through video, phone, or something like Skype, Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting. With a video call, you still see your colleagues face-to-face. A simple phone conference is still really useful, and if you’re worried about hang-ups with technology, it’s definitely more stable than a video call, which might present hiccups in getting – or keeping – everyone connected.

Sometimes, making the extra effort to meet face-to-face is very much worth it. Traveling to a client’s office, for example, shows good faith and commitment to their needs. And if there’s ever tension among any of your colleagues (or especially clients or customers), taking the initiative and going a little bit out of your way to meet them where they are shows them that they are valuable to you.

Project coordination

For regular status and project updates, it’s extremely effective to make use of a project management tool like Basecamp 3. For our team, Basecamp works really well, but many of the project management programs out there (Wrike, ProjectManager, Trello, to name a few) function the same way: all team members can be alerted at the same time, and conversations and notifications are fully documented and neatly organized by project.

If you’re in the process of researching or implementing a project management tool, having team buy-in is crucial to its success. All members of the team need to actively (and consistently) use the tool in order for it to really work. If anyone has problems accessing the tool, or a reluctance to stay tapped into it, that could slow down communication and progress for all project members.

Ariella Saucier, Project Manager at AAC

Ariella Saucier
Project Manager