Communication is key for all project managers. Project Managers will spend most of their time communicating with the project team, stakeholders and customers. However, when it comes to communicating with senior leadership or executive project sponsors it is important to remember a few key tips.
First, it is always important to know your audience. Preparing to communicate with senior leadership is very different from communicating with the project team. Most senior leadership individuals are pressed for time and often have multiple critical priorities to manage for the company. As a result, communication needs to be concise and focused to cover two things: What should I know at the executive level and what do you need from me to ensure the project’s success? My rule of thumb is to be able to convey this key message in 2 to 3 minutes in the executive summary of the communication while providing additional details in your communication separately. This will provide senior leadership with the choice to review the details on their own time or use the information as a reference. The mistake I have seen is providing too many details up front and not summarizing your major points in an Executive Summary causing senior leadership to get lost in your message or become frustrated with you for not getting to the point quickly.
In summary, your Executive Communication should:
- Be concise – always provide an Executive Summary of your major points to start your communication.
- Be organized and only provide information important to senior management (not random project details)
- Convey your key message, major points in 2- 3 minutes
- Raise key risks and issues early – before the project is impacted
- Let senior leadership know what action you need them to take to help your program/project.