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Leading effective stakeholder updates

XC Staff

Product managers or engagement leaders are accountable for establishing weekly update cadences with key stakeholders. The format of these updates will vary depending on the current needs of stakeholders and the product team. When scheduling live updates, remember to leave five minutes of buffer time before the meeting to give participants a break. Updates create a mutual opportunity to align on expectations, learn from one another, and share progress toward a common goal.

Before a stakeholder update, run through a mental checklist to test whether the update will be clear, crisp, and useful to both stakeholders and the product team.

Checklist to supercharge stakeholder updates

What do you want your stakeholders to feel leaving the update?

Strive to spark feeling in interactions by leaving ample time for conversation that engages, empowers, and builds trust. Don’t be shy to initially call out areas needing extra input or attention from stakeholders.

What help do you need?

Transparency builds trust, and your stakeholders can help you move past barriers and potential setbacks.

Do you have working software to demo?

Lead with this, even if it’s a small update. Demos spark conversation and active stakeholder participation. Remind stakeholders of your product vision, goals, and the value you’re driving toward.

What story are you telling?

Anchor your demo in a user persona's story. Supplement story telling with callbacks to your outcomes-oriented roadmap, user research, data, and the value you’ve shipped.

Are your updates relevant to your stakeholders’ points of view?

List out your stakeholders individually and anticipate their needs. Finding opportunities to tie the work back to stakeholders’ global objectives and strategy can spark conversation. Leave out filler content and stick to the must haves.

Where are you headed next?

After validating or invalidating hypotheses or assumptions, explain how this has changed or reaffirmed the product team’s trajectory. Contextualize this in an outcome-oriented roadmap or learning agenda to clarify what is next.

Do you really need to bring your stakeholders together?

You may not have meaningful updates to share each week. If you haven't shipped added value, progressed substantially toward solving a problem, or uncovered new opportunities, take the update offline. Avoid product team “TMI” and “sausage making.”

Is your product engagement getting complicated by mechanics?

Discussions with stakeholders about budget, scope, timelines, cloud resources, etc., are important but could distract from the product. Let your product demo sessions shine by focusing on substantial logistics separately.

Further reading

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