Importance of Good Communications and Story Telling

Importance of Good Communications and Story Telling
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Sandeep Sehgal

Last updated March 30, 2017


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Project Communication Management

Project Communications Management plays a key role in keeping all members of the project management team on the same page. Without communication among all team members and project stakeholders there can be a breakdown in processes which could have a negative impact on the final product.

  • The greatest threat to many projects is a failure to communicate.
  • Our culture does not portray IT professionals as being good communicators.
  • Research shows that IT professionals must be able to communicate effectively to succeed in their positions.

Or The core purpose of communication is to share messages or information with stakeholders. This is particularly true of communication with the project team members. The challenge of effective communication is keeping a consistent point and change the presentation and rhythm to avoid becoming boring. You might need to tell stories to ensure the key stakeholders get the message. Great communicators tell stories to connect with people and let me tell you it’s very easy to create a story. While telling a story another key element is to finish on a high note. Great stories do not fade away.

Story Telling

One of the goals of the initial meeting is to develop an understanding of the client's ultimate business needs. This starts by listening to your client first before offering any solutions often, the IT staff quickly overwhelms their client with too many technical tools and solutions before getting a full understanding of what their client needs.  And many a times the clients feel they must communicate their needs in technical language, or have a technical stack in mind when coming to this meeting.   As an IT person we need to start with the basics and learn the client's business needs, defined in layman’s terms.  Storytelling is an effective method of communicating these needs. Start out by asking your client to tell you a story about what brought them to this table in the first place. It might be a story about a prospective client who couldn't find the product they were interested in on the organization's Web site and ended up going to another organization.  

It might be a tale about countless lost hours spent by administrator trying to find paper records, when they could be doing their “real job” of helping the business keeps its budget under control. These are the real issues defined as business and person needs, not technical terms.  They are stories put in the language that the client feels comfortable with.  These stories allow the IT staff to hear the users’ real problems without jumping to technical solutions. You don't need to say specifically “tell me the story" in order to get your clients to explain their situation. There are a number of questions that you can ask your client to elicit useful stories:

  • Ask them to explain, the problems they are currently experiencing
  • Ask them to describe, their vision of how things should work in the future
  • Ask your client if they have heard of or seen any examples at other businesses that they think might serve as prototype of how to solve their problem, and lastly
  • Ask your client if they have heard of or seen any technical tools that they think might provide a solution to their problem, and

You ask the questions, and the stories will emerge by themselves. Telling the story helps set priorities and take you closure to the solutions. In many cases, a frustrated organization may come to the table asking for a "whole new website," and the IT staffers may jump on the bandwagon by offering to design a new site from the ground up, a project that could take hundreds of hours. 

Through storytelling, you might hear the real business. By hearing the issues first, you might determine that a few minor fixes to a Web site’s directory might solve the client's problem more effectively than a full site redesign. Storytelling is a great experience for the clients. They often feel that they can better express their own needs in their own words than if they were forced to stumble through technical language  in front of a roomful of IT staff. They feel as though they are really a part of the process of resolving their problem or fulfilling their request and therefore tend to be more satisfied with the results.  

Additionally, IT staff gains a much better understanding of the client’s needs, and they are able to offer better solutions.  Better yet, the IT staff might be willing to implement a particular technology solution suggested by the client.

About the Author

Sandeep Sehgal , PMP ,Passed CISSP Exam ,IBM Certified Sr. Project Manager , has 22 years industry experience . Currently he is Head Consulting and Training at Pallas Athena. He is a passionate trainer and consultant in the field of leadership/soft skills, project management and information security. Previously he has worked for Sify ,IBM and CSC.


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