Improve your communications skillsIn this episode, David Barrett speaks with us about what I feel is the most important skill for a Business analyst . . . communication.  David is the National Program Director for the Centers of Excellence in Project Management and Business Analysis at the Schulich School of Business and is one of the founders of the International Institute for Business Analysis.

David will help us to understand the three phases of communication and how to become a great communicator.  Listen for some practical, actionable advice on improving your communications skills.

After listening to this episode, you will understand:

  • Why communication and presentation skills are critical to your success
  • The three phases of communication and how to use them to improve your communication skills
  • How to scale your communication
  • Why making use of common BA tools will help your communication

Key Takeaways

Business Analysts need strong communication skills.  Presentation skills are critically important to get your point across, influencing and negotiating skills are needed to drive decisions, and we need to engage with different people (and deal with difficult people).  All of these areas are part of the Business Analyst role and are critical to your success.

To scale your communication to a wider, more diverse audience, first you must understand what your audience needs.  Be briefer than otherwise to start.  Assume the audience doesn’t want it all.  Communicate the bottom line up front with additional information afterwards.  Put the request and executive summary up front.  This provides context for your audience.

The three phases of communicating are: Being prepared, delivering well, and follow up afterwards

  1. Preparing – doing your homework and knowing your audience
  2. Delivering well – making sure the message is understandable
  3. Follow up – getting feedback and using feedback to adapt and improve

Business Analysts should make better use of communications plans along with their stakeholder analysis.  One of the biggest benefits a Business Analyst can bring is to ensure we build it right the first time.

Tips to improve your communication:

  • Find a Toastmasters group and practice to improve your verbal communication skills.
  • For writing, get someone to review your work and provide feedback.  Use their feedback to make sure your message is clear and meets the audience’s needs.
  • Use spell check but by all means, but you must proofread.
  • Communicate the bottom line in the beginning to provide context and then include additional relevant detail.
  • Understand the technology that can help us communicate.

The one thing you can do today to improve your communication right away: Find a coach or mentor. Seek out other people to coach you, help you, and advise you.  Never go it alone.

Links mentioned in this episode


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