Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Building effective communication channels

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The word ‘channel’ has various and differing meanings. I grew up on a ranch, and we had to get water to the grass and to the cattle. My dad and grandpa built ditches and canals to channel the water to specific places for specific uses. We had three TV channels that brought news and content into our lives from the outside world. There were cables and wires to channel electricity, in the right amount, to lights, appliances and other devices.


The purpose of a channel is to direct things down a specific course. To lead effectively, you need to channel your efforts to connect with others and drive the best possible outcome. Following are three steps to build effective communication channels:

  • Know your channels: Find out what drives those you need to connect with. Do your research to understand what they need, what motivates them, what they’re working for and why they want it.
  • Build relationships: Take time to build relationships with the people in your communication channels. Listen to them, understand their intentions, search for ways you can work with them effectively. Engage with them proactively to solve problems. Keep your mind open to new facts as your relationships progress.
  • Communicate decisively: Make your communication decisive and to the point, not only in person but also in email, phone calls, social media and meetings. Be aware of what you are saying, and communicate with succinctness. Recognize those key moments when you need to convey what really matters, then proceed efficiently and effectively.

As you work to build your effective communication skills, your discipline will increase and you will build the ‘mental muscle memory’ to communicate the most important information at the right time.

I connected with Dave Gunby, an expert facilitator of communication and presentations, on the following podcast. We discuss how to make your point powerfully and how to get past your fear of public speaking, among other topics.

Questions: How effective are your communication channels? What approach has worked best for you? Please leave a comment in the space below.

The Product Management Perspective: Communication is key to effective product management. Work hard to build positive relationships with your teams. Listen to your customers and communicate straight up with them. Your role is vital to making sure everyone knows and understands the value of your products.

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