Critical Communication Skills for Successful Projects

From the moment a project opens, to the day it reaches completion, communication between the engineering project manager and client is critical. In fact, the success or failure of the project is hinged on efficient, effective, and timely communication. With so many moving pieces involved, communication is key for understanding project scope, demands, and expectations. Continue reading and dive into five critical communication skills for the successful completion of engineering projects.

1 – Communicate Often

Frequent communication, whether verbal or written, is a key element to a successful project. Communication is now in the form of telephone calls, emails, and video conferencing.  Keeping everyone informed and updated on the progress and status of their job needs to continue despite not being able to physically meet.

2 – Listen

Often when thinking about communicating, speaking is typically what comes to mind. But perhaps more important is what happens on the other end – listening. Listening (and listening well) is crucial during all phases of a project. From the get-go, gather questions, requests, concerns, ideas, and goals before doing anything else. The entire team, engineer and owner, need to be on the same page through every phase. Train yourself to listen to hear, rather than listen to respond. Should you need additional insights or direction, continue keeping the line of communication open.

3 – Master Public Speaking and Presenting

We strive to make our clients’ jobs easier.  With that, we need to master both public speaking and expressing our professional opinion in an easily understood manner.  As a project manager in the water industry, we work a lot with municipalities and/or private companies. This could mean presenting to boards, councils, or departments, in big groups or small. Mastering the art of public speaking and presenting is critical for conveying our message. This entails knowing the audience and tailoring our language, tone and presentation to that particular group. Are they well versed in the industry? If the group is not as familiar with certain terminology or project elements, complex ideas need to be simplified for better understanding.

4 – Check-In During Non-Project Times

Checking in with clients during times when there are no projects is equally as important as when there are projects in progress. The down time in between projects can serve as an excellent opportunity to stay informed about client projects coming down the pipeline, as well as provide updates on similar projects your firm is working on.

5 – Be Clear, Concise, and Confident

With so much going on throughout a project, being able to communicate clearly and concisely is critical. While communication is certainly valuable, so too is time. Brevity is recommended, when possible. The following tendencies that keep most people from being brief are:

  • The tendency to over-explain
  • The tendency to be unprepared
  • The tendency to miss the point

If you come prepared with your main focus in mind, you will be successful in communicating a clear and concise message. Do that by:

  • Mapping out your message
  • Leading with the headline/main point
  • Trimming away the excess