5 essential writing skills for project managers

Successful project managers should have an array of abilities, and writing skills aren’t the most obvious. In the list of the top 20 project manager skills by Indeed, writing comes at the 11th position and is concerned only with compiling technical documentation.
However, the writing needs of a project manager are much more diverse, and there are other writing skills that you will need to run a project successfully.
So, let’s take a look at the whole set of essential writing skills that project managers should have to do a proper job.
There are different types of texts, and each requires different skills from the writer.
There are different types of texts, and each requires different skills from the writer.

1. Structured writing

A structure is important in professional writing. It helps to
  • follow the logic of the text,
  • navigate the text better, and to
  • see the clear intent behind the text.

Project managers work with a lot of documentation, and many aspects of a project depend on it – how the team functions, whether the deadlines are observed, and milestones are completed.
So, a project manager should know how to develop a structure of the text before writing it. At this point, writing skills merge with analytical skills – a project manager should be able to review the structure objectively, understand its purpose, and decide whether it makes the text clear enough for others.

2. Email writing etiquette

For project managers, all interactions at work have shifted more towards business communication platforms, like Slack and Trello. However, it doesn’t mean that emails have become irrelevant.

As a project manager, you’ll have to use emails to interact with clients and colleagues outside of your workplace. Besides, all official communication is usually done via email.

So, the knowledge of email writing etiquette is essential for project managers. It usually involves:
 
  • addressing the recipient correctly
  • properly formulating the subject of an email
  • structuring the body of an email
  • using the tone and language characteristic of email communication

Apart from that, you’ll also have to learn how to sign your emails and write follow-ups. Surely, writing emails isn’t an art, but you’ll have to master it since the position of a project manager involves frequent email communication.

3. Business writing

In addition to emails, project managers also have to deal with writing and filing many business documents, including:
 
  • reports
  • business cases
  • press releases
  • newsletters
  • social media and blog content
  • employee evaluations, memos, and so one

Business writing is a peculiar skill because it involves a very specific style. Business writing style focuses on a certain purpose, should target a particular audience, and avoid jargon to maintain clarity.

But the most important requirement for business writing is credibility. If you look closely at the documents listed above, you’ll find that many of them should be based on data and research.

For instance, project managers frequently file reports to help the client better understand the progress. These reports would lack credibility if they didn’t contain actual data obtained at every project stage.

Thus, business writing is an essential skill for a project manager, and the chance is high that you will use this skill almost every day.

4. Technical Writing

Since we started talking about research, let’s take a closer look at technical writing and the role it plays in the project manager’s daily work activities.

Technical writing has an educational intent and deals with directing, instructing, and explaining a certain concept. In terms of project management, technical writing usually involves filing the following documents:
 
  • project analysis
  • project planning
  • data visualisation
  • product research

The technical writing skill also requires the knowledge of very specific terminology. But, at the same time, you should be able to keep your structure as simple as possible. Technical writing is a difficult skill to learn, but it plays an important role in the project manager’s job.

5. Editing and proofreading

The characteristic feature of a good writer is the ability to revisit the text and scrupulously review it, finding and eliminating all possible mistakes. The same can be said about project managers, who have to deal with a lot of documents that also involve a lot of editing and proofreading.

Why is editing a skill? It will take some time before you can easily spot a mistake without any help from online editing tools. Besides, fast editing requires a profound knowledge of the field.

In its turn, proofreading has a lot to do with your ability to concentrate. Besides, you need to have a good understanding of the style to which all the project management documents should be tailored. It will also take you some time to figure out how to properly proofread your texts, but there is no doubt that it is also an essential writing skill for a project manager.

Documents project managers should know how to work with

While discussing writing skills, we mentioned many documents that a project manager needs to know how to write. Let’s take a closer look at them, so you could better understand their purpose and practice writing them.

Project business case – explains the goal of the project and justifies its necessity.
Project charter – formally authorises the project and gives a project manager the authority to execute it.
WBS – work breakdown structure is one of the main project planning and resource management documents.
Project communication plan – lists all communication channels involved in project management.
Project schedule – determines the timeframe of the project, all milestones, and deadlines.
RACI matrix – describes the size of the project and defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in it.

This is a basic list of documents involved in project management that you need to learn how to write and compile. But written communication in project management is more complex, so the more diverse your writing skills are, the more efficient you’ll be at your job.

Wrapping up

So, as you can see, writing skills shouldn’t come in 11th place in the list of the top project management skills. These skills are involved in the project manager’s daily activities and are essential for running a project successfully.

However, developing writing skills is progress that takes a lot of time. So, keep working and improving on your style and take as many writing assignments as possible to maintain your skills at a high level.

Author:

Linda Ferguson is a professional writer and editor. She’s also the CEO of Subjecto – an educational resource for students. You can visit the Subjecto to read more of her works. 

 

Key words: Project management, Tip, Guide

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