Projects can be simple and last a few days or vastly complicated and last for months/years. No matter the size of your project, effective communication is the constant that needs to be present to help ensure project success. Here are some quick communication tips I have learned over the years when it comes to project work.
1. Be as specific as possible using as little verbiage as possible. Shorter sentences are preferred over paragraphs for project work. Bullet points, numbering, highlighting text…any technique you can use to help your message stand out help you effectively communicate.
2. A greater frequency of communications during a longer project is better, even when you may think it is too much. At some point, falling back on your communication may be the only thing you have left to protect yourself or to help clarify an issue before it becomes something serious.
3. Use photos and videos as daily or weekly deliverables to help show progress on longer projects. A few photos can help keep things calm by relaying information that is hard to convey in words. Photos showing progress may also help you win more time if you fall behind on a project. Communicate progress as much as you can to help win the confidence of your client.
4. Follow up detailed phone calls with an email summary and follow up detailed emails with a quick phone call. This helps to ensure that there is no miscommunication with clients and colleagues. You might be a thorough reader of emails and execute properly, others may just scan emails and two different people often hear two different messages from the same conversation. Follow up to make sure they understood your communication.
5. If you are well skilled in a particular field, like Mechanical Engineering or Graphic Design, be careful how you communicate. Don’t assume that your colleagues or clients are well versed in even the basics of your field. Try to qualify their skill level in your area of expertise before you get technical with them.
In general, I try to communicate following this basic thought. More internal communication is better than assuming everyone understands. Precise external communication is critical for protecting yourself, your client, and the success of a project.