Communicating Effectively

Communication during a project’s life cycle can take various forms: formal, informal, written, or verbal.  (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).  Regardless of the form of communication used however, project managers need to ensure “their messages are received and correctly interpreted by project audiences.” (P. 367). The multimedia example in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) conveys the message in three modalities: text, voice, and face-to-face.  The message itself however, is not clearly conveyed in any of the modalities presented.

The face-to-face modality somewhat conveys the urgency of the request.  Among the factors that influence effective communication, discussed in (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.), are body language and tonality.  The body language and the tonality of the requester in this example suggest, the request may be urgent, but the level of urgency is not clear.  Additionally, since the request is made verbally and casually (not in a formal meeting setting) the recipient of the request (Mark) may not consider the request as “urgent.”  The advantage of this modality however, is if Mark has questions he can get immediate clarification.  The voicemail modality has more of an urgent tone than the face-to-face, but still not sufficient enough to indicate to Mark it should be a high priority on his to-do list. The text modality conveyed about the same level of urgency as the voicemail, with more formality; i.e., presented in writing.  Unlike the face-to-face modality, the latter two modalities do not allow for immediate clarification, if it was required.

In all three modalities, the request is ambiguous.  The phrase “let me know when you think you can get your report sent to me…” (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) implies that the requester is willing to wait until whenever the responder (Mark) can get to the report.  If I were Mark, I would assume the report is not a high priority and put it aside for more pressing activities.  The acronym ETA is confusing and can mean different things to different audiences.  The phrase, “missing report” can be referring to various missing reports.  Additionally, the format and transmission mode of the report (raw data vs. actual report) was left up to Mark to decide – further increasing the likelihood of ambiguity.

In his presentation, Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) stresses the importance of avoiding ambiguity.  In this particular example, I think a written communication would be more appropriate.  The requester needs to describe precisely which report she needs, in what format, and on what date, avoiding the use of acronyms (or spelling them out); thus leaving no room for ambiguity.



Portny, S.E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M.  M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). (p. 367). Project Management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). Communicating With Stakeholders.  Video presentation.

Laureate Education, Inc. (n.d.). The Art of Effective Communication. Multimedia presentation.


3 thoughts on “Communicating Effectively

  1. Marta,

    Great post. I really liked your point about the acronym. One would assume that the author intend to mean estimated time of arrival. This term is generally used in travel terms. It doesn’t make sense to me in this context. To make things even worse ETA in all caps refers to the Basque separatist organization know for acts of terror. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvackek (2012) note that acronyms can have may different meanings, depending on the organization in which they are used.




    ETA (2013). Retrieved March 22, 2013, from

    Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

  2. Marta,

    You made a great point when you referred to the “missing report” being ambiguous. As communicators, we would be more effective if we took a few extra moments and clearly stated our intentions rather than assuming the other part can “read our minds!”

  3. Great blog, Marta – I especially love the layout!

    About your post, I thought the face to face was much more effective but then you bring up a great point that there was no urgency in her words or body language, she is smiling and acting really casual about it. In addition, once she walks away and ends the conversation, the request could be forgotten. So you spotted a few things that really escaped me! Thanks for making me take a closer look.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s