Product managers just starting out often have questions about creating product roadmaps, product development definitions, and how to gather customer requirements. When I speak with product managers who have been in this position for some time, the questions change to how we can communicate better. These seasoned product managers know something that the newer ones don’t: Product management is about effective communication. The big question is how to do it well.
Five Ways Product Managers Can Have Effective Conversations
Too often, product managers just show up hoping that the conversation with someone we are going to have will go well. It turns out, however, that for a conversation with someone to be successful, we need to do five things. These are not things you will find on a product manager’s resume. However, it is essential to spend the time to learn how to do them.
Preparation is vital: Too often, we don’t know what we want to get out of a conversation and aren’t prepared. We don’t know what to expect from the conversation, and we don’t have a plan. This is not something you should allow to happen. Instead, prepare for meaningful discussions and be ready to share what you want and learn what you need.
Do not be too clever: You may be the most intelligent person in the room once you have prepared for a conversation. You don’t want your conversation to be a one-stop-shop. You want to share the knowledge you have with the conversation to move it along and guide the other person towards answering any questions you may have.
Why: Many people say that children who are small ask “why” all the time are the most successful at having conversations. Use “why” to make a connection with others. This word can be used to dig deeper into a topic. Asking it every time will force the other person to stop and think. In their responses, they’ll dig deeper into the issue you’re discussing.
It’s all in the face: When you have a conversation, it’s more than just what the other person is saying to you. You need to pay attention to what their faces are telling you. Pay attention to their expressions and see if you can pick out the parts that are most interesting.
Don’t be bored: Not all conversations will be interesting. We might have to communicate with them or find out more about them. But that doesn’t make them boring! You need to find the one thing that interests you about them and keep it in the conversation. This will allow you to remain engaged and not drift off.
What Does All This Mean for You?
To be a good product manager, you will need to master the art of communication. Effective conversations with many people are crucial to obtaining the support you need and convincing customers and partners that your product is the right one.
You must be prepared to have a great conversation with someone. Do not try to impress others by how knowledgeable you are about the topic being discussed. Ask them “Why” to learn more. Listen to their expressions. Stay “in” the conversation, and take an active interest in what they are saying.
Conversations are critical to how product managers communicate with customers and what they want. It is an art to be able to share effectively with others. With practice, you can improve your ability. You’ll see immediate results for your company and product if you take the time to improve your conversation skills.