How to write project updates your coworkers love to read

Your team will thank you

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Project updates are a staple of work life.

At their best, they save time and keep people aligned.

At their worst … they do the opposite.

In my experience, most project updates are:

  • too long

  • too complex

  • too granular

So, let’s help with that.

Here are 7 simple tips to write project updates your coworkers love to read:

1. Make it skimmable

You can have fancy charts, graphs and templates.

But they’re no good if they can’t be easily understood.

Make your updates easy to skim and understand in 60 seconds or less.

2. Make the status clear

The most important part of the update is project health.

Is the project on track, delayed, at risk?

Make the status clear at the top of the update.

Some people like to use color coding for a visual.

3. Write an exec summary

Summarize the update in one paragraph with simple language.

Capture the key highlights, blockers and next steps.

If someone stopped you in the office and asked how the project is going, how would you quickly explain it?

That’s your summary.

4. List latest achievements

What was accomplished since the last update?

List the key highlights that show meaningful progress.

Share the “wins” the project team has had.

Save the granular details for those who ask for more information.

5. List key blockers

What factors are blocking the project?

What potential risks could throw it off track?

What hurdles is the team working to overcome?

List those clearly and the potential impact.

Ensure there are no surprises.

6. List key next steps

What next steps is the project team taking?

What are the key action items to move forward?

List those clearly and concisely.

Assign a single owner and due date for each.

7. Tell us what’s next

At the end of the update, tell people when they can expect another update.

Effective communication closes all loops.

Leave no confusion on what’s next.

Here’s an example putting this all together in a clear and concise project update:

That’s a simple, clear and concise project update.

Is this comprehensive?

No - you can certainly add more detail.

Some projects may require more (or some stakeholders may require it).

That’s fine if that’s the case, just remember the key principle:

Your goal is to write a clear and concise update that’s easy for people to read and saves them time.

Do that consistently, and your coworkers will love you.

P.S. We didn’t cover format in this post.

Personally, I believe people overthink format. Choose whatever format you like, just make it easy to understand.

⭐️ Check This Out

If you want to go deeper on how to write effective project updates, watch this short YouTube video.

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