Subscribe to My Feed   Follow Me On Twitter   Join Me On LinkedIn   Friend Me On Facebook

Communicating with Stakeholders in Ways that Work for Them


We all absorb information differently – some are more visual than others and want to see charts and graphs, some prefer to listen to others communicate the information to them such as through a presentation or in a meeting, and others like to be involved in some way such as by reviewing data and analyzing information on their own, providing input. Too often, however, we tend to present information to stakeholders in just one way; thereby engaging some stakeholders and not others. I have found that if I present information to stakeholders in a variety of ways, I can better keep them engaged and committed to the initiative.  And I don’t have to worry about how they specifically may want to get information communicated as I cover a number of options.

Let’s assume we have a large group of stakeholders to whom we need to provide monthly in-person status updates or we need to have a decision making meeting. Here is how I would manage the stakeholders in both situations to ensure that I can better address their needs in receiving information and continue to get the support and commitment I need to keep the project on track and moving forward.

  • Prior to a monthly status update meeting or a decision-making meeting I would send the stakeholders the following information via email:
    • For status report meetings: An agenda of the meeting including any relevant background documentation/data and additional details.
    • For decision-making meetings: An agenda of the meeting including details behind each option to resolve the problem.
    • The email for either type of example meeting above would summarize the attached background documentation and data (executive summary) and explain what needs to be done and by when.

This enables me to accommodate those stakeholders who want to read through information at a high level and those who want to get into the details of the information. By providing information for the way different stakeholders want to get information and for the way they may process information they receive, I have an increased chance of getting what I need during the upcoming status report and/or decision-making meeting.

  • At the meeting, I present the information in a high level format. This may entail using a stop light report (green, amber, red) in a status reporting meeting or presenting a table of pros/cons of options for a decision to be made with a recommendation to move forward. The presentation is at a high level only, for those who wanted the details, they were provided in the email sent prior to the meeting.

I also know some stakeholders would prefer to talk with me directly. I try to arrange time to meet with these stakeholders even if just by informally stopping by their office to chat about the upcoming meeting and answer any questions or picking up the phone to make a quick call to them. I also include in my email that I’m available to answer any questions or provide any additional information.  Of course, the larger your key stakeholder group, the more difficult this can be, but there are ways to simplify it and reduce the effort on your part. For example, if I know I have stakeholders who prefer a “pre-meeting,” I arrange for small group meetings to discuss the details behind an upcoming session. This may entail setting up a brief meeting over coffee one morning and inviting any stakeholder who is interested in attending to stop on by. For remote stakeholders, I arrange a couple of virtual meetings.

For those stakeholders who want to be involved in the solution, I gather ideas from them and share information as we go along to get their thoughts and opinions. This enables them to feel a part of the process right from the beginning – they are more “hands on.” Before I prepare my final recommendation, for example, I will send along a draft version for those who prefer to be more “hands on” so that they can provide input. This enables me to garner their support in the meeting.


Stakeholders prefer and process information in a variety of ways. The more options you can provide information to them so that it works for them, the more likely you are to get what you need to keep your project moving forward.