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5 communication tips for project managers

What are project managers and what do they actually do? Sure, they manage projects but there’s more to their job than that.

According to the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge® (PMBOK® Guide), “Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

The definition provided above might be too much to take in. Simply defined, project managers are responsible for the success or failure of a project. So what are their tasks?

  • Planning projects
  • Executing plans
  • Managing teams
  • Managing expectations
  • Closing projects

Although this shows a project manager has lots of tasks, remember they’re not expected to carry out all the work themselves. Managers usually have a team working under them to help achieve the goals of the project.

They’re a vital part of a business because they help keep projects organised and their team focused on the task in hand.

However, being a project manager also has its benefits and drawbacks.

The benefits

  • It’s a great job for someone who thrives on planning and delegating tasks.
  • You get to work on a wide variety of projects both big and small
  • You gain new skills and experiences while managing a team of people

The drawbacks

  • The idea of taking on a huge responsibility can be mentally draining
  • Projects will eventually end, even those you enjoy working on
  • Lack of communication can result in friction within a project

The last point is what we’re going to focus on in this blog post. Here are 5 communication tips for improving collaboration between you and your project team.

Make the most of apps

Dashboard software

The internet is full of resources. Project Management can be made easier now thanks to the advancement and development of project management and file-sharing apps. 

Project management apps do a great job of keeping everyone aware of their personal responsibilities. These apps keep your entire team on the same page on a project and keep communications in one place for a more efficient workflow.

Create a communication plan

There should be clear expectations between you and your team. So, it’s important to have a clear communication plan at the beginning to explain how you expect to communicate with each other.

Consider what kind of communication is required such as meetings or reports. Also, who do you need to communicate with and how often? This means, planning meetings more effectively.

Meetings are important for any team but they can be harmful rather than helpful if used inefficiently.

To avoid wasting time and decreasing productivity, discuss with your team what the meeting will be about, who needs to be involved and how long it will take.

Active listening is key

not listening

Being a project manager means a lot of people will turn to you if they have questions about the project, including plans, concerns, and ideas. You’re the one who has the most knowledge about what’s going on, so it’s no surprise if you’re bombarded with questions. 

To ensure you listen to people who approach you, you need to be 100% present. This means, putting your smartphone away and giving them your undivided attention.

This means maintaining eye contact, paying attention to body language and actually processing what the person is actually saying.

Remember to repeat some of the things they’ve mentioned and nod at what they say to ensure you understand fully what they’re saying— taking notes if necessary. When you fail to listen, you’ll miss key information and you’ll misunderstand the point they’re trying to make.

Use online tools when necessary 

Meeting in person is nice and it’s encouraged but sometimes it’s just not possible especially when your team is distributed across multiple locations.

In this case, online communication tools give you the opportunity to conduct meetings remotely. It’s a great way to discuss ideas in one platform, rather than typing a long email to everyone.

Online communication tools are also great for having meetings without disrupting people’s workflows. For those who aren’t on location, they can log in and stay in touch without having to be there in person. This way, you can still share ideas and plan projects without waiting to meet in person. 

For distributing project information, emails can be a double-edged sword. Key updates can be buried in someone’s inbox, which means they miss out. Not to mention, they might not have opened the email.

A good way to ensure they have received the information and have understood it is by opting for interactive, two-way communication.

This allows your team members to acknowledge that they’ve received the information and can respond with questions in case they don’t understand.

Keep it small

communication tips

Communication is easier within a small group of people. Imagine working with 30 people – communicating can be a chore and some ideas might get misconstrued as it gets passed among team members.

So, it’s important to keep your project management teams small for easier communication. If you’re working in a 30 member team, form smaller teams of individuals from that group who will be responsible for each part of the project.


Headshot Andre

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps business increase conversion rates, close more sales and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order). 

Twitter: @breadnbeyond

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