How to understand a project step two: ask the right questions

Here is my second look at ways to get up to speed quickly with the change project that we have been asked to communicate. Its all about knowing the right questions to ask.

Project colleagues will very often be specialists in their field and focussed on what they have been asked to deliver so simply asking somebody what he or she is doing may result in a complicated description of some technical process, leaving the communicator more confused than ever!

So, never just ask, “What are you doing?” Some possible questions might be:

  1. Who will be affected by what you are doing?
  2. What is going to change for them? (It is essential to know, for example, if there is an impact on peoples’ jobs)
  3. On who or what are you dependent to deliver your work?
  4. Who is dependent on you?
  5. What does success look like?
  6. How would you describe what the project is doing to your mum or a son or daughter? This can help to remove some of the jargon.

Unfortunately, the last one doesn’t always work which makes me think that there must be a lot of families of project managers out there totally baffled by what their partner/father/son/daughter does all day !

This blog is based on an article that first appeared on

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About the author

Ann Pilkington

Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy, a leading provider of public relations and communication education.  Her special areas of interest are internal communication and project communication.

Ann leads PR Academy’s CIPR internal comms certificate.

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