It delights me every time I discover a way that the world of knowledge available to human kind is applicable across disciplines.
Granted, the book Made to Stick which I am reading right now is intended to apply as a guideline without any particular discipline in mind, only communication and retention of ideas in general.
While driving to work one day, I realized how the ideas can and should apply to project status meetings. There are usually specific points that you want to highlight with those in the room, be they the sponsor, project team, customer, etc. You may want different ideas to stick with different groups of people, too. This book is all about how to craft and present ideas to make them stick.
Let’s say you have a particular risk on your project that is looking like it may be a big issue, and you are asking for your sponsor’s help in mitigating or preparing for it. If that is the biggest issue for your sponsor to help with, you want the risk and what they can do to help to stick with them, and make it a dominant thought when they leave the meeting. Whenever they think of your project, they should associate it with that risk they need to help with.
OK, so now you are holding a status meeting with your team. You want to review progress over the last period, talk about what is happening now and coming up, and make sure everyone is away of risks that could impact their work. This is an opportunity to recognize people for their accomplishments, and it would be very helpful if the idea that “this project manager appreciates our effort, and recognizes us for it” sticks with them. You also may want to pick out a few key milestones that everyone is working towards, and major risks they should look out for so you can be notified as early as possible if something comes up.
With every example you care to come up with, it is important how you craft and present the message. There are many techniques described in the book, relating to the content of the message itself, associations, and many other helpful principles.