- Project Management

Understanding The 5 C’s of Communication in Project Management

As a project manager, you’re responsible for coordinating a team, allocating resources and tasks efficiently, and ensuring project deadlines are met. Excellent communication skills underpin every single one of these tasks. Unfortunately, poor communication is one of the most common reasons projects fail.

Understanding The 5 C's of Communication in Project Management

But how exactly can you improve your communication skills to manage teams and projects better? In this article, we look at the 5 Cs of communication and their role in project management.

What are the 5 Cs of communication?

The 5 Cs of communication are the common traits that characterize effective information exchanges. The 5 Cs are:

  • Clarity
  • Cohesiveness
  • Completeness
  • Conciseness
  • Concreteness

Let’s look at each one of these Cs in detail.

1. Clarity


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Clear communication is essential in business settings. It’s so important that the other 4 Cs depend on it. Without clarity, communication can’t be cohesive, complete, concise, or concrete.

Unclear communication is often the cause of misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and poor work standards. These issues can easily bring a project to a halt.

So how do you bring clarity to your communication? Here are some suggestions:

  • Communicate one idea at a time.
  • If you need to discuss complex topics, break them down into different sub-topics and ensure everyone is on the same page before moving from one sub-topic to another.
  • Avoid using words or expressions that could have more than one interpretation or that only certain people in your team know.
  • Keep sentences short.

2. Cohesiveness

Cohesiveness or coherence makes communication more effective by ensuring all the different pieces of information make sense and contribute to the big picture.

When communication is not cohesive, you risk sending out contradictory messages that can confuse your team. To avoid that, it can be helpful to prepare your contacts in advance, ensuring that:

  • You stay on topic at all times.
  • There aren’t different topics competing for attention.
  • Every idea reinforces the main message.
  1. CompletenessIncomplete communication leaves things open to interpretation. And since there can be as many interpretations as people in your team, you’ll want to avoid misunderstandings that can delay your project.

    Bringing completeness into business communication means ensuring no gaps to fill in your statements or instructions.

    Since project work is task-oriented, one way to ensure your communication is complete is by ensuring your team always knows what to do next. In other words, don’t just explain the situation or the problem that needs fixing. Instead, finish with a clear call to action that leaves no room for doubt.

    4. Conciseness


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Have you ever sat through a meeting where someone kept talking in circles without even getting to the point? If so, you know how frustrating and time-consuming that can be! In addition, a lack of conciseness can have a negative impact on your team’s morale and derail your project.

Here, it’s essential to understand that less is more. Don’t use more words if you can use less and still get your point across. Concise instructions can be easily remembered, whereas redundant or long-winded explanations risk being forgotten, mixed up, or misinterpreted.

Also, drop any embellishments or filler words from your communications. They don’t add anything to your main message and may even detract from it. For example, there’s no benefit in saying “this must be done in a time frame of 5 hours” when you can say “this must be done in 5 hours”.

5. Concreteness

Concreteness or specificity help bring direction to your communications and make it easier for your team to be on the same page. By contrast, using vague or abstract words makes it difficult for others to understand what’s expected from them, when, and why.

For example, instead of saying, “I need this done as soon as possible,” say, “I need this done by Friday at 5 p.m.”. Instead of saying, “we need to make sure the project is a success,” specify the criteria that will make the project successful. And instead of saying “bring all relevant documents to the meeting,” list the documents, so no one has to guess what they are.


Clarity, cohesiveness, completeness, conciseness, and concreteness are the five essential traits of effective communication. Bringing these traits into your everyday communications can improve team dynamics and ensure every project runs smoothly and on time.

Author bio: This article was written by Seamus Dunne of Conversation Piece. Conversation Piece is a leading player in telecommunications, providing VoIP Phone Systems nationwide to large and small-scale businesses.

Understanding The 5 C’s of Communication in Project Management

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