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You are being watched - communication skills development for planners

Mandy Pearse FCIPR, MBA is the CPD trainer for two communications skills masterclasses.

Everything we do and say communicates information about us. Making a positive impact with our communication is not just a matter of what we say, but how, where, when we say it and to whom. Emails, meetings, presentations, reports, policy responses, blogs, and social posts are all forms of communication.

Let’s take email for a start. As a leader when you send your email to your staff provides a message. If it is late at night or on a weekend you may provoke anxiety that because you are working they should be too. You don’t intend that, so put a timer on to send it during working hours.

Reports are critical to the planning process. Getting the right balance of enough technical detail versus clarity is hard. Make an impact with Plain English, simple sentences, bullet points and great graphics.

Presenting to members of the public you need to explain the planning issue in layman’s terms and to come across as authoritative but approachable. Presenting at an industry conference then it’s all about great content and delivering it with confidence. You might find helpful the Jargon Buster – A Glossary of Planning Terms on the Planning Aid England website.

Be an active chair of meetings.  Check who has not spoken. They may feel unsure of themselves and invite them to give their thoughts. This shows you care about being inclusive.

Social media tests all your communication skills. Each channel has its own audience, style and constraints. You can also use text, graphics, audio and video as well as broadcasting live. Time spent preparing before publishing is critical.

Remember your dress, body language, manner and tone all contribute to the impression someone has of you.

The RTPI runs several communication skills development CPD courses for planners and I lead two types of masterclasses dedicated to these:

Please search for upcoming dates of these masterclasses in the CPD Masterclass Calendar.


Completing an Online CPD Masterclasses will contribute 7 CPD hours to your professional development.



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