Does it seem like project stakeholders routinely ignore messages coming from your team? They don’t, of course, but it’s easy to see why people don’t read every e-mail or respond promptly to new messages. The volume of communications flowing through businesses today can be overwhelming. Stakeholders’ traditional phone and email channels now sit alongside discussions happening through online collaboration tools, instant messaging, texts, and video conferences.
If you want your project messages to stand out in this sea of communications, consider these 9 tips to keep even the busiest stakeholders engaged.
1 – Craft messages that are concise.
The competition for people’s attention is steep and growing. To capture the limited time stakeholders have available, your project communications should get straight to the point, avoid straying from the primary topics, and wrap up as soon as you’ve shared what you need to.
2 – Lean into links.
Modern projects generate a ton of interesting data, but there’s so much information available that your messages can’t possibly include it all. Links to the rescue! Pair a one-sentence statement that encompasses the most important points with a link that allows stakeholders to access more information if they want it.
3 – Relevance is key.
Consider which aspects of your project are most interesting to stakeholders. Those should be the backbone of your communications strategy. Updates that are a little too aged to be useful and announcements that only tangentially affect stakeholders are just two examples of content that often aren’t relevant enough to earn a spot in your project messaging strategy.
4 – Maximize your subject lines. That old “project update” subject line won’t stand out in stakeholders’ inboxes. Replace it with something that describes the message’s content and helps readers prioritize the communications that are most important to them. People will be more willing to engage with project-related messages that catch their attention and hold the promise of education or entertainment.
5 – Make your structure skimmable.
No one wants to open a wall of text, especially time-pressed stakeholders with too many other messages waiting for their attention. Sub-headings, bullet points, and visual separators help to cleanly delineate one topic from another so readers can quickly skim to the issues that interest them.
6 – Spotlight those action items.
Don’t bury requests, outstanding items, or other priority issues within your message. Instead, display them prominently by listing them at the top of the message or highlighting them inline. Whichever approach you use, make it consistent so stakeholders know where to look for cues that they’re expected to take action.
7 – Use stakeholder segmentation.
Blasting out project messages to your entire stakeholder base only adds to everyone’s noise level. Executives rarely want to see the minutiae of equipment deliveries or relocation schedules, and end users probably aren’t interested in high-level budget variance analyses. Stakeholder segmentation aligns each message to the group that will find it truly valuable.
8 – Use visuals whenever possible.
Images, graphics, charts, and other visual elements can often convey information faster and in a more compelling way than text alone. Want to showcase how far under budget your project is right now? A simple bar chart gets the message across quickly with an eye-catching representation of actuals versus forecasts.
9 – Curate your messages.
Not everything needs to be pushed out as a component in your communication plan. Some information and updates might be better placed on the project’s intranet site or kept available for access within the overall project documentation repository. Look for the right balance between sharing project information with stakeholders and avoiding inbox overload.