Now that you know what a communication plan is and the basic categories that go in it, the next step is filling in your plan. In this video, you'll learn how to set up a communication plan that works best for all the different people involved with your project and what kind of information to include in your plan. Things like: who needs to be involved in the project communication? What's the best way to communicate? Why are you communicating? How often should you communicate? There are few key benefits to planning your communications up front. Creating a communication plan helps improve the overall effectiveness of communication, keeps people engaged and motivated throughout the project, and gets stakeholders involved in effective conversations. Let's try building a sample communication plan so you can see how it helps with managing the different aspects of project communication. We'll continue with the Office Green Plant Pals Project. Here's an example of a basic communication plan using a spreadsheet. Before anything else, think about what types of communication you'll be using throughout your project. Feel free to refer back to your RACI chart and stakeholder map, which are tools that will help you figure out what type of communication might work best for each person, group, or role. In this example, let's say the stakeholders are busy senior executives who may not need day-to-day details. Instead of daily meetings, it's better to send a newsletter that summarizes key milestones and project progress to date. Let's type that in. The core team, on the other hand, may benefit from a daily stand-up, which is a daily meeting designed to bring everyone up to date on key information. Here, each team member briefly describes any completed work and any barriers that stand in their way. This is common in Agile project management, as it helps the team stay coordinated and move quickly throughout the project. We will go ahead and enter daily stand-ups in this row. But sometimes daily meetings aren't possible, given time zone restrictions or other obligations. Don't worry, there are other ways to keep communication flowing. For example, the project team that created this program had daily email status updates for the whole team to report which action items were being worked on for the day. They also used a project tracker for tasks and milestones to make sure everyone is on the same page. Next up, think about who needs to receive information about your project. These are the communication recipients. It helps to look back to the stakeholder map and RACI chart again. Ask yourself, who needs to be heavily involved in the details? Who has high interest in the project? Who needs only to be informed of major milestones? I already mentioned that key stakeholders would be receiving a monthly newsletter, so I'll type that in now. Also, we know that the core team will be participating in daily stand-ups, so I'll add that in as well. Excellent. We're moving right along. Next up in recipients are the project subgroups for marketing, procurement, and product development. Let's add separate meetings in for each of those groups in addition to the core team meetings. Since those subgroups are not part of the core team, you might only want to meet with them weekly instead of every day. Let's add weekly check-in to each of these. Great. Another best practice is to list contact information and time zones in your communication plan. That way, you know when people are available for communicating. Let's add that in. Feel free to hide this column since it contains sensitive information about people involved in your project. There are other ways to list contact information privately and link it for easy reference. I'll teach you how to do that in another video. If you're having trouble deciding which type of communication to use, one way to help you choose is by thinking about the frequency. As I mentioned earlier, a senior stakeholder probably won't be able to attend daily meetings, and they don't need every piece of information. Instead, you can communicate with a senior stakeholder on a weekly or monthly basis and you can focus on high-level status updates like overall progress, recent wins, or milestones reached, and current metrics. In this case, let's send out the project newsletter once a month. If you're unsure, it's always great to ask senior stakeholders which method of communication works best for them. When you work with your core team on a project, you need to get into more of the day-to-day details. Check in regularly and ask how everything is going. How they're doing on tasks? Do they need your help with anything? Add in a daily meeting for your core team and a weekly meeting for the subgroups. Let's make that happen. Great. Meeting more frequently can help un-block issues and keep the project on the right track. This leads us to key dates. Listing key dates and times are important for coordination. For example, if you're launching a product or new process or giving a presentation, you should list the key dates. Keep in mind, not every type of communication needs a specific key date listed. For example, with daily or weekly communications, you might not need to specify the actual date every week. You could just list every Monday or something like that. Let's add in key dates to our plan. For the monthly newsletter, let's send that on the first Monday of every month. Let's schedule the daily stand-ups at noon and the weekly check-ins are on Wednesdays at two, three, and four o'clock. Wonderful. Now let's talk about delivery methods, like email, in-person and virtual meetings, a shared document that gets updated regularly, or a progress report that gets presented. Deciding the best way to communicate is a skill. One thing I continuously need to adapt and work to improve in my role as project manager is communicating among different teams and levels of authority. A director or executive may only have five minutes, so I need to be concise and know exactly what I need from them. Likewise, I might be used to communicating via instant message and video chat with my core team. However, one of the subgroups on the project might respond better to emails and in-document comments. Let me add in these methods for our communication plan, starting with email. Emails are a very common way to get people in sync, but write too much and you may lose your audience. After all, no one really wants to read a two-page email. One way to get around this is by adding a note at the top of your email. This will alert readers that some details of a long email may not be relevant to them. With this kind of email, lead with key points and action items limited to two to three sentences. Then include a longer section at the bottom for those who want or need additional details. The goal of communicating is getting your point across effectively. Think carefully about what you need to accomplish with each type of communication. For high-level stakeholders in particular, I'm constantly trying to answer, so what? Why should they care about my project? The same goes for my core team. What information is going to help make sure they complete tasks on time and stay motivated? Thinking about these questions helps me focus on the most important bits of information to share. Let's fill this in in the communication plan. The goal of the monthly newsletter for stakeholders is to give a status update overview. Great. Goals for the daily stand-ups with the core team would be to report progress updates, blockers, and determining next steps. Let's add those in as well. All set. Next, you need to make sure you're able to reach everyone you need to communicate with. It helps if communication is a team effort, especially on more complex projects. You shouldn't be the only one communicating. You want to enable other team members to be involved in communications, based on their expertise in the project. I'll add a column for sender and owner to indicate who is responsible for each communication. Then highlight the sender or owner for each of these communication types, starting with the project manager as the sender for the newsletter. Great. We are all done. Keep in mind, it's always a good idea to check in with everyone to make sure communications meet their needs. Everyone absorbs information differently; what works best for you doesn't always work best for others. Some people are more visual and want to see charts and graphs. Some people might prefer to listen to information through a presentation or a meeting. Some people may want to review and analyze information on their own first, and then speak with someone about what they've read. If you're only presenting information in just one or two ways, you risk engaging some people but not others. Your goal as project manager is to optimize and streamline communications. A great way to optimize your communications for everyone on the team is by sending a brief email or survey that asks three questions. What is working in how we communicate with you about the project? What is not working or is not effective in our communications? Where can we improve our communications with you? This will give you plenty of useful information on how you can adapt the communication style to cater to each team member. Communication plans contain a lot of important information and there are so many different ways to set one up, depending on the size of your team and the needs of your project. Whichever system you choose to use, the most important thing is to make sure your communication plan clearly identifies who needs to be involved in project communication. What methods are being used to communicate, why are you communicating, and how often you are communicating? That wraps up our discussion on how to effectively fill in a communication plan. In the next video, I'll share with you some best practices for documenting all the information you and your team will be communicating throughout the project. See you in a bit.