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.