Follow these three tips to prepare for your next project update to stakeholders to ensure you are providing them the most relevant information at the right time.
- Consider what the stakeholders want and need to know.
Think about your audience. What will they want to know about the project and what do they need to know about the project. Consider, for example, do you need their input into requirements? Are there upcoming trainings they need to participate in? Do you need them to test a new system? Have there been many questions from various stakeholders that might be answered in this update?
- Determine how you will deliver the message to the audience.
Are stakeholders in one location and a smaller group that makes a face-to-face meeting possible? Do you have virtual stakeholders who may be able to participate via technology? Are the stakeholders very spread out in such a variety of time zones that smaller meetings may be necessary or communication via email? Regardless of the method you choose, consider ensuring that there are a number of ways for stakeholders to receive the update. You might invite stakeholders to a meeting but then also provide an update via email or via a project website for those who cannot attend the meeting in person. For larger, more complex initiatives, I often have a stakeholder support committee. This group is responsible for getting the message out about the project to other stakeholders. They may do this by attending department meetings or just having informal conversations with others.
- Determine what you will provide – handouts, pre-reading, etc.
What do stakeholders need to ensure this is a productive update meeting? Do they need some information provided beforehand to read so that a decision can be made in the meeting? Do they need handouts to review during the meeting? Is it better to provide information after the meeting so that stakeholders have time to digest the information?
And, as a best practice, follow up after the update to inquire if there are any questions or concerns from stakeholders. This is especially important for longer term, more complex projects where keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the initiative is important to project success.
You might also consider reaching out to stakeholders on occasion to check in to see if the way updates are being provided works for them to meet their needs and provide them the information they need. This may be done informally – in casual conversations; or more formally – such as through a survey.