Communicating for Effect


Series on Effective Stakeholder Engagement

By Lynda Bourne, PhD

Melbourne, Australia



There is no point in communicating with anyone if you do not want an effect; you are wasting their time and yours! Communication is the way we influence other people’s thoughts and actions, therefore every communication should be focused on achieving a desired effect on the person’s attitude or behaviour. The effect may be:

  • To prevent any deterioration in a currently satisfactory attitude;
  • To improve a currently unsatisfactory attitude;
  • To stop or reduce damaging or negative actions or behaviours;
  • To ensure or encourage supportive actions or behaviours.

The challenge is knowing which effect you need to create, and then based on the priority of the stakeholder and the importance of the change (from the perspective of both timing and significance) choosing the optimum communication approach.

In earlier articles I’ve discussed the relationship between stakeholder perceptions and project success and the three types of stakeholder communication. Project Relations (PR) and ‘reports’ cover off the needs of most of the stakeholders who are not critical at this time, with minimum effort. This article is focused on the ‘directed communication’ needed to change the attitude or behaviour of the small group of critical stakeholders who need to be doing something differently to support the successful delivery of your project.

Each directed communication is focused on one stakeholder to achieve a desired change in their attitude, behaviour, or both. Maybe a functional manager needs to stop obstructing your project and actively support the loan of some key resources for critical work, or the sponsor needs to approve some additional funding.

The first step in this process is defining precisely what you need from the stakeholder. You also need to prioritise these communications so you focus most of your effort on the most important changes you need at this time.


To read entire article (click here)

Editor’s note: This series of articles on effective project stakeholder engagement is by Lynda Bourne, PhD, Managing Director of Stakeholder Pty Ltd (Australia) and author of the books Stakeholder Relationship Management and Advising Upwards, both published by Gower (UK). Dr. Bourne is one of the world’s leading authorities on program/project stakeholder relations. See her author profile below.         



About the Author


pmwj34-May2015-Bourne-PHOTODr. Lynda Bourne

Melbourne, Australia




Dr. Lynda Bourne is Managing Director of Stakeholder Management Pty Ltd – an Australian based company with partners in South America and Europe. Through this global network she works with organisations to manage change through managing the relationships essential for successful delivery of organisational outcomes.   Lynda was the first graduate of the RMIT University, Doctor of Project Management course, where her research was focused on tools and techniques for more effective stakeholder engagement. She has been recognized in the field of project management through her work on development of project and program management standards. She was also included in PMI’s list of 50 most influential women in PM.

She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) and a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society (ACS). She is a recognized international speaker and seminar leader on the topic of stakeholder management, the Stakeholder Circle® visualization tool, and building credibility and reputation for more effective communication.   She has extensive experience as a Senior Project Manager and Project Director specializing in delivery of information technology and other business-related projects within the telecommunications sector, working as a Senior IT Project Management Consultant with various telecommunications companies in Australia and South East Asia (primarily in Malaysia) including senior roles with Optus and Telstra.

Dr Bourne’s publications include: Stakeholder Relationship Management, now in 2nd edition, published in 2009, Advising Upwards published in 2011, and Making Projects Work, published in 2015. She has also contributed to books on stakeholder engagement, and has published papers in many academic and professional journals and is blogger for PMI’s Voices on Project Management.

Dr. Bourne can be contacted at [email protected].

To see more works by Lynda Bourne, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-lynda-bourne/