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It all depends on the circumstance.
Arlene, there are plenty, I intend to explore new tools everytime
Still the best tool in my experience is:
1. having dinner (or lunch) with sponsor and other key stakeholders
2. food can increase dopamine levels, sitting at a table helps create rapport and trust. Good eating manners and hosting behaviors are required though.
3. if people recall the joint dinner the next time you meet them and they smile, if business topics discussed are followed up
4. introducing AI / automation in communications will help us better understand our counterparts and remember what has been said, especially in digitally supported meetings
Examples: sembly.ai or perflo.co
*Google Meet is a good remote communication platform, for organizing work meetings; it has the facility of including subtitles, changing screen background, moderating stakeholders participation enabling/disabling their audio or video. Other most used platform is Zoom, which facilitates you organizing virtual meetings. You can, as Thomas said, include AI automation, with sembly. ai or other.
*For non-formal written communication, you can use platforms like Whatsapp, Google Hangouts or Skype.
*And if you are co-located in the same place, the option mentioned by Thomas, of organizing presential meetings (having meals or sharing some food) is an ideal manner of increasing communication between your stakeholders.
Face to face meetings, if possible, or even a hybrid meeting of some face to face with Skype/Teams for those who are unable to attend.
I personally find sitting down and having friendly debate and discussion in person allows you to form more of a connection with people, as you are able to better decipher what a person is saying/thinking via body language.
I have successfully used 'partnering sessions' where you get all (most) stakeholders in a room for a few hours to explore the upcoming project. However you need some structure to these sessions to achieve anything meaningful mixing formality with open discussion. The objective is for a mutual recognition of stakeholder expectations and obligations with commitment to deliver. Depending on the complexity, challenges and length of a project you can have follow up sessions to review success, fine tune, re-commit etc., but don't make it too complicated or onerous.
There are format suggestions out there in the internet world which may help but the heavy lifting is on the project manager/team.
Note: 'partnering' is the not the same as a 'partnership'. Partnership is a legal agreement between parties to achieve an objective whereas partnering is an understanding of the mutual benefits of achieving an objective by working together.
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