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Top six skills in a communications consultant or manager

I was recently asked to name a skill that has really helped me as a communications manager/consultant and for running my business.

The conversation got me thinking about the skills and abilities that help make a good communications person, and this is a list of the top six traits I came up with.

  1. ability to write well
    quill on paper by candle

    Writing basics are a good start in communications

    It sounds obvious, but you need to be able to write documents as required or at least recognise quality and issues  for provided documents and materials.

  2. coordination
    I spend a lot of time collating and implementing feedback, communicating client ideas and needs to designers, pulling together information from various sources and so on – if you can’t coordinate multiple people and tasks, managing communications projects will be a tough call.
  3. understand various tasks and roles
    I think it’s easier to work with designers, printers, marketers, programmers and the like if you have an understanding of what they do. It gives you common ground when discussing a project and a better idea of how long is required to get something done. That doesn’t mean I think I could do their jobs (I know I couldn’t!) but at least have an understanding of their expertise helps.
  4. confidence to take feedback professionally, not personally
    Not all clients will be nice about changes to work you’ve done, and sometimes criticism is harder to take than others, so you need to be able to work with feedback rather than get offended. You also need to know when to disagree with feedback
  5. good communication skills
    Being able to manage a communications program, maintaining website content, preparing reports and so on are the duties of a comms person BUT they must also be able to communicate with clients and suppliers to get the job done. Clear communication saves making errors and builds goodwill which you sometimes need to call on for urgent or difficult jobs
  6. be versatile and creative
    Different clients like to work in different ways, projects require various amounts of work and different tasks, some projects will develop in unexpected ways – there are many times that flexibility and creative problem solving come in handy.

    connecting jiqsaw pieces

    Finding how things fit together is a valuable skill

 

What other traits would you look for in a communications person to work with?

Have you come across a successful comms manager who doesn’t have all these skills and abilities?

14 Responses to Top six skills in a communications consultant or manager

  • KennyK says:

    I would stress the importance of time management. As a communications manager or consultant, you’ll probably be working on different projects at the same time, communicating with various experts, teams, etc. You really have to be able to manage your time properly.
    You also need to be flexible, creative and able to give other people the right task at the right time, so that everything will be done in time and with maximum results.

    I don’t think you have to be “great” in all the skills mentioned right away, but you do have to be aware of the importance of those skills and be willing to work on them on a daily basis, making changes where needed and investing in your self development.

    • tashword says:

      Time and people management are important parts, that’s for sure Kenny. In one project, I often have intense periods of work followed by nothing to do as I wait on others. For example, in the annual report I have just finished I would get client feedback and work hard for a few hours implementing that before giving it to the designer. I then worked on other projects until the designer gave me the next draft when I worked hard on that draft before sending it back to the client, and so on. Co-ordination and time management are crucial skills to surivive high pressure projects.

  • Nikki
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’ve been looking more into business communications and consulting, so this is really helpful for me. Sometimes the best way to decide if a certain career path is right for you is to figure out if you have the right personality for it.

    • Tash Hughes says:

      Hi Nikki, I’m glad this list has helped you. I agree that a career (job, business or whatever!) does need the relevant personality and aptitude rather than just certain skills or experience. Did you find this list made you more or less interested in a business comms role?

    • Mark Thomson
      Twitter:
      says:

      To summarize what I just read from this blog, communications manager really requires versatility. Among the six enumerated, I see coordination as the most important and toughest. This job forces you not only to understand everything you’re concern to but also to harmonize all of them. A complex body cannot work well if one part does not complement another part. Other mentioned skills like ability to write well and good communication skills are good instruments to be able to make everything work effectively. You make people and their tasks coordinate, sounds really tough but also challenging in a good way.
      Mark Thomson recently posted…How to Convert EML to PST Outlook mailbox?My Profile

      • TashWord says:

        Hi Mark, and thanks for adding your comment.

        I agree that coordination can be challenging – it is a massive part of many communications project I work on. Just keeping track of where everything is up and working towards a timetable takes a lot of effort.

  • jessica
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is a good article, thanks for posting it, TashWord!
    I think the most important point of these 6 is number 6. Creative people are not so boring as another ones, so you really enjoy talking with them.

    • TashWord says:

      True you may find it more interesting to work with a creative person, Jessica, but I also think the comms person needs to be creative to do their job well.

  • Hi,

    A very very very special article for me, you know. I am very happy to see this list in your site. It is really great beneficial for me and can help to improve my communication skills.

    Communication with other and from senior is probably more difficult. But these tips is more important to get rid from the lad communication skill. Without this skill we can’t hold our job. Therefore, it is very important to improve our communication skills.

    Thanks for sharing such a great article.. 🙂
    Have a nice week ahead..

    Hope you will come back soon with some more tips..

    – Ravi.
    Ravi Roshan Jaiswal recently posted…20 Tips on How to Communicate EffectivelyMy Profile

  • Supriya says:

    Good tips…..Good social skills are a crucial component of leading a healthy, happy and enjoyable life. Everyone wants to communicate clearly, but little things can create big problems.

    • TashWord says:

      It’s true that social skills are important Supriya, but I was specifically writing about the skills required for a communications manager – being bale to juggle different SME’s feedback, for instance, is more than just your average social communication skill.

  • Christina says:

    Number 3 is essential with any type of management. Knowing what is needed and expected by those you manage is largely informed by understanding what they should be doing.

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