Message received: 3 simple steps to better project communication

Have you ever seen one of those email storms where the emails get longer and longer, and no one seems to understand what the other person is saying?

Communication is fundamental to a well managed project. You need to get people working together, and give them the information they need, when they need it.

Many projects have been derailed due to poor communication. People duplicating work, working on the wrong thing, confused about what to work on next, or just not working while they wait for some decision to be made, at some level communication has failed.

Happily, project communications are something that you can learn to improve. It will take time and effort to become a brilliant communicator, but here are three simple steps to get you started:

1. Think about your audience

If you are writing to communicate you must consider your audience. If your audience doesn't understand the information you are sending or the action you want them to take, your communication has failed.

What is your audiences understanding of the topic you are writing about? Do they have extensive knowledge? Are they a manager only interested in results? Do they need to be persuaded?

Asking the right questions can help you to communicate in way that is more suited to your audience. When you write with your audience in mind you vastly improve the chances your communication will be well received.

2. Review (and trim) what you have written

Many people make the mistake of writing an email and sending it immediately. Remember what you learnt in school about writing? The first thing you write is only a first draft.

Make a habit of reviewing everything you write.

Yes, even if it is only one line.

Make sure you correct any spelling or grammar mistakes. Correct spelling and grammar makes writing much easier to read - some people even refuse to read anything with spelling errors. Bear in mind the importance of the writing - there is no need to pull out a grammar book for an email, but an important public facing document should be reviewed extensively.

Trim words off your writing. When you write a first draft it is often a stream of your consciousness - whatever occurs to you as you are writing it. This makes for easy writing, but it can be difficult to read. Read what you have written and if there are any ideas, words, sentences or paragraphs you can eliminate without affecting your purpose, then get rid of them. It makes it much more likely your audience will understand the message you are trying to communicate.

3. Keep it in context

It is important that your communication is received at the appropriate time by your audience. It is no use sending an email about an important project requirement that is forgotten by the time the task is actually worked on.

This is where project management systems like TaskTrakz can help. It allows you to record important information associated with each task in a project, and put it in front of the people who need it, when they need it.

TaskTrakz gives you a rich text editor for descriptions and comments on tasks, so there is no excuse for not associating all important information directly with the task. This ensures that the person doing the task will see the information in context. You can even add code snippets; TaskTrakz provides code syntax highlighting to allow your code to be more easily read.

So try out these three tips starting with your next piece of writing. You might be surprised how much better your communication is received.

Keep your project communications in context with TaskTrakz. Get your free 14 day trial today.