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Communication Mediums

Communication Mediums

Author: Jeff Carroll

This lesson provides guidelines to communicating with the project team.

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Source: Image of @ sign, whiteboard, meeting people, phone, printer, signpost, scribble text, woman on phone, question mark in circle, locked file folder, group of people shapes, man at whiteboard, images by Video Scribe, License held by Jeff Carroll.

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff, and in this lesson, we'll learn how to use different communication mediums. It's important that a project manager understands when each method should be used. So let's get started.

Emails are flexible methods to communicate information. They can be used for announcements, instruction, or project direction, for example. There are disadvantages to email though, and we'll discuss these limitations later in the lesson.

Presentations should be held when a large amount of information needs to be conveyed, and the project manager needs more control over the flow of that information. Though question and answer sessions occur with presentations, this is primarily a method for the presenter to pass information to the audience, not to receive information. If discussions are necessary, then meetings are a better medium for communication, especially if the issue or decision being discussed impacts more than one stakeholder or team member. If only one stakeholder or team member is impacted, than perhaps a one-to-one discussion is the best method, either in phone or in person. This should also be used when the information being discussed is confidential or private to a single individual.

Finally, documentation, either printed or online, should be used when planning and documenting project actions. It's critical to record the history of a project in case questions arise later about decisions made earlier in a project. Documentation is also used when information is accessed often over the course of a project, such as with procedures, checklists, or frequently asked questions.

Let's go back to emails. As mentioned before, emails are best used to communicate instruction or direction. Emails should be brief. If you find yourself writing a long email, perhaps the information would be better communicated through another method. Be clear and concise when communicating with project stakeholders. Understand that their time is valuable, so deliver the information they need to recognize the issue and make any decisions. Emails are not the best method for large discussions, so the project manager should be careful with questions when using email, especially when asking open-ended questions at the beginning of an email.

If you need to communicate about sensitive issues with an individual, then email may not be best. It's far too easy to misunderstand the emotional tone of an email. If possible, it's better to include a link to information instead of an attachment, especially if the information needs modified by the recipient. And finally, be careful copying too many people on an email using the CC or BCC functions. Information in the email should be applicable to everyone on the list. If your stakeholders and team members receive too much irrelevant information, they may begin to ignore future emails.

Sometimes meanings are more appropriate than emails. In that case, it's the project manager's responsibility to manage the meeting. Here's a sequence to follow when organizing a meeting. First, determine the meeting's purpose. Every meeting should have specific goals, and the agenda should be designed to reach that goal. Next, write the agenda. The agenda should contain the goal of the meeting, any references to information needed to achieve that goal, and who will present the information. The agenda should outline the order in which the meeting will proceed.

Determine who will attend the meeting. As with any communication, only those stakeholders and team members who are essential to the agenda should be invited. Schedule the meeting. The meeting day should be agreed upon by all attendees well in advance of the meeting in order to give everyone time to prepare, distribute, or read materials referenced by the agenda. Identify the team members that will help prepare the meeting's materials or assist during the meeting.

Conduct the meeting. The project manager should either guide the meeting through the agenda or delegate this responsibility to someone familiar with the project. The meeting's results should be documented, and sometimes this is done through detailed minutes. After the meeting, the results of the meeting and minutes are documented and distributed to meeting attendees. And finally, if any project documents were impacted by the meeting, such as the decision log or risk management document, then those should be updated.

All right. Excellent work. In this lesson, we learned how to use different communication methods to interact with stakeholders and team members. We learned how to use email effectively, and we walked through the steps a project manager uses to manage meetings. Thanks for listening, and have a great day.