Written and Oral Communication skill of Product Manager

product management 101

Written by: Indah Rezeki

1. What skills does a product manager need?

At the core of product management, product managers shared that communication is the product management skill that is absolutely essential to their role every day. Regardless of the industry and company size, communication skills (50%) substantially obtained more votes than the next top three skills: objective prioritization skills (19%), people management skills (14%), and organization skills (10%). A PM needs to have interpersonal and hard skills that cater to customers and the stakeholder of a business.

The skills vary from being able to be communicative to even do thorough data research daily.

2. The Most Important Skills are Communication Skills

To be successful in product management, you need communication skills to speak in multiple languages— executive, development, strategic, and tactical. 

Product managers are responsible for setting the long-term vision and strategy for their company’s products. It also falls on them to communicate this strategy to all of the relevant participants and stakeholders.

 Communication skills include:

  • Emotional Intelligence ⇒  the ability to understand your emotions and those of others
  • Clarity ⇒  the ability to get across your thoughts without ambiguity
  • Tone ⇒ the ability to use the right tone of language for the settings
  • Confidence ⇒ the ability to communicate with strength of thought
  • Empathy ⇒ the ability to consider the feelings of others
  • Respect ⇒ the ability to acknowledge others and their ideas and give them an equal thought
  • Listening ⇒ the ability to pay attention to others communicating and actively consider what is being said
  • Open-Mindedness ⇒ the ability to consider all viewpoints once heard, rather than exclude some without consideration

3. How can Product Managers sharpen their communication skills?

Product managers can sharpen their communication skill through oral form such as meetings, presentations, and conference calls and written communication form such as chat messengers and emails.

a. Meetings

As a PM, you have meetings all day, whether one-on-one or with a group of your colleagues and customers. As the axis of business, UX, and technology, PMs can be assured of being called upon to contribute to each and every meeting, if not lead them entirely.

Top Tips :

  • Agenda

=> If you’ve called the meeting, put a clear agenda together with an expected outcome. If you’ve been invited to a meeting and there is no agenda, ask for one. 

  • Timeframe

=> Keep meetings brief! Scheduling a meeting time that suits everyone can be a pain in itself, so make your life a bit easier with something like Calendly or Google Calendar’s ‘Find a Time’ feature.

  • Take notes

=> Taking notes in meetings allows you to keep a record of what was spoken about and to more thoroughly process the content.

 b. Presentations

In order to deliver an effective presentation, you need to grab your audience by the proverbial cojones early on and keep them engaged in that psychological space for as long as necessary for you to convey your content.

Top Tips :

  • Tell a Story

=> Forge your presentation into a beginning, middle, and an end. Weave a hero (a customer, business goal, user story) into the centre of it. Need practice with standing up and speaking to a group? Join a Apiary Intensive Training

  • Body Language

=> Being 100% confident in your content and practiced.

  • Practice

=> Practice your presentation. If possible, do your best to practice in the actual space you’ll ultimately be presenting in.

c. Conference Calls

Whether video-based or just plain audio, aural senses become far more attuned and important on calls than in in-person meetings. As such, PM’s need to be cognisant of this and tailor their communication skills to get the most from their calls.

Top Tips :

  • 2:1 Ratio

=> We have two ears and one mouth on calls, use them in that ratio. As a PM your goal on most calls is to listen and understand as opposed to being heard. Actively listen to others on calls and  somewhat paradoxically,  you’ll find that you’re able to make points much more clearly when it’s your turn to speak.

  • Voice Control

=> Record your own voice from a call someday and play it back to yourself. Nine times out of ten you’ll realise a need to speak more slowly and more deliberately.

  • Send material in advance

=> When making conference calls, there is often a loss of focus as voices compete to be heard and understood. To mitigate this, be sure to send the entire agenda, documents, and any presentation materials ahead of time to attendees so everyone can stay on the same page and focused at all times.

 d. Chat Messenger

Slack, Microsoft Teams, HipChat, whatever you use, the adoption and usage of team communication platforms continues to explode. Short-form, long-thread conversation spaces present new opportunities but also new challenges for Product Managers.

Top Tips :

  • Be a Human

=> We live in real life so we don’t always have to make conversation in messages. Be a human and go grab a coffee together

  • Keep it Brief

=>if the conversation is about important topics, call the team together to make a decision offline — or by video for remote workers. Google Meet is your best friend for these.

 e. Emails

Email’s long-form format forces authors to be purposeful and focused within their content before pushing send. Well, that’s the idea at least.

Top Tips :

  • Prioritize

=>Always put the most important information towards the top of each email. In general, try to avoid long emails in general. Senior internal stakeholders in particular simply don’t have time to read or write long emails

  • Assets & Attachments

=>If you’re referencing reports, make sure to either link out to them, embed them, or attach them. Not only will this help any visual thinkers you’re communicating with, but it will allow your recipients to delve deeper into the content you’re referencing if they want greater context.

  • Check yourself

=>From time to time we all make mistakes when writing — we’re human after all. However, even small spelling errors can, unfortunately, undermine the perceived value of your content in the eyes of the reader, whether consciously or unconsciously. For those of us who are more error-prone than others, a tool like Grammarly is something of a godsend!

Last but not least, in your role as Product Manager, you will never make everyone happy. Communication is the key to mitigate this. Listen to what your team and customers are saying.

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