Engineering Communication Guide: Skills, Tips, and Tools

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A diverse team of engineers working on plans at a conference table.An engineered solution provides little impact if others do not understand its purpose. Engineers need to be as descriptive as possible to ensure their ideas are understood.

Engineering communication skills are essential for presenting concepts and designs, and critical to the engineering design process. Engineers with the ability to clearly communicate can confidently present their ideas to decision-makers in presentations, meetings, and reports. Company leaders expect to read and hear professional-level presentations. Spelling mistakes in a report or a mumbled presentation may make an executive think twice about an engineering design proposal’s reliability. This can make engineering communication skills as important as technical skills.

Why Are Engineering Communication Skills Important?

Beyond strong technical knowledge, engineering employers place a high value on other critical engineering competencies such as personal effectiveness and academic and workplace skills. Engineers with strong communication skills can position themselves for leadership roles, using those skills to effectively manage and motivate teams and train individuals in lean development processes or new software programs. Additionally, engineers are responsible for inspiring confidence in their ideas; this requires communication skills to sell their products or designs.

Engineering communication skills, including active listening, negotiation, and clarity, are useful in key engineering design stages. Below are a few examples of the benefits of having strong communication skills:

Problem Identification and Definition

Engineers must have a clear understanding of job tasks and requirements. Engineers work with business and technical professionals and other engineers to get a deep understanding of a problem from multiple perspectives and to develop and plan.

Goal Setting

Engineering design involves participation from many people; this means that engineers need to communicate clearly about complex subjects and technical plans. Additionally, solid engineering communication skills help engineers collaborate with others to establish achievable goals.


Engineers need to know what has succeeded or failed in previous projects. By engaging other teams, engineers can learn from past mistakes to identify potential pitfalls and apply lessons learned to help ensure future projects’ success.


Engineers must communicate with a variety of parties, including managers, coworkers, and clients. For example, brainstorming is an essential part of the development stage. It is a creative process that allows others to bring their insights and ideas to the process of problem-solving. Engineers confident in their communication abilities can share their thoughts and come up with fresh approaches to solving a problem during brainstorming sessions.

Engineering Communication Skills

From coming up with a brilliant design for a new building or road to developing innovative products or software, engineers’ work touches every aspect of our lives. In addition to the technical skills necessary to design, test, and build things, successful engineers must also have the ability to interact with others to get their designs from concept to development. Examples of essential communication skills for engineers include the following:

Writing Reports

Engineers produce reports to convey technical information and findings, provide details about processes and objectives, and describe design choices and products. People who read these reports can be technically minded or nontechnical business leaders. Keeping various audiences in mind, engineers must write their reports in clear language accessible to all. For help with grammar and brevity, engineers can take advantage of tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway App.

Public Speaking

Hiring managers seeking engineering leadership candidates look for the ability to clearly present objectives, data, conclusions, and recommendations. Effective public communication and presentation skills enable engineers to share their findings, plans, and projects with peers who understand technical language as well as with potential clients in business meetings. Therefore, their public speaking skills must include the ability to translate technical concepts into simple language in an engaging, confident manner.


Equal in importance to oral and written communication skills is the ability to listen. This skill is essential for engineers to understand problems and issues clearly. Strong leaders listen to workers throughout an organization, to understand where problems lie and hear their solutions; to clients, to understand their needs and guidelines; and to supervisors, to understand their expectations.


Strong communication skills are essential for engineering management roles. Communication skills are vital to these key aspects of engineering management:

  • Communicating processes and goals to engineers and teams that include technical and nontechnical members
  • Coordinating activities with engineers, managers, and others, which can occur at construction or manufacturing sites, in laboratories and testing centers, or in offices
  • Proposing budgets to secure funding for projects
  • Optimizing resources, which includes asking company executives for equipment or staff
  • Working with contractors in other divisions or companies
  • Hiring new staff members

Communication Resources

Learn more about essential communication skills for engineers and engineering managers.

Engineering Communication Tools

Communication is an essential soft skill for engineers. These tools can improve engineering processes heavily reliant on communication and collaboration.

Email and Chat

Distributed engineering teams use email to share documentation and information. Email is a tool that helps ensure everyone from various time zones working on a project remains on the same page. However, some communications require faster response times. Chat allows teams to stay in constant contact and have real-time conversations to resolve issues and make decisions.

Web Conferencing/Virtual Meeting Platforms

Not every document, change, or piece of information is best shared by email or chat. Sometimes, engineering teams must discuss critical issues together or brainstorm new ideas live. In today’s distributed workplace, physically meeting in a room is not always feasible. The coronavirus pandemic has made it even more imperative for engineering teams to transition to remote work. Web conferencing and virtual meeting tools such as Cisco Webex and Zoom provide engineers with chat, audio, and visual communication features that make it possible for teams to work together virtually.

Online Collaboration Platforms

Engineers often collaborate with other engineers, technical professionals, project managers, and others. Without effective collaboration, a project may suffer from the silo effect, meaning that one team does not know what the others are doing. Poor collaboration can lead to loss of productivity. Online collaboration platforms such as GitHub and Jira Cloud act as a medium for information flow to allow everyone to collaborate on a project with visibility into what’s happening, eliminating repetitive work.

Project Management Tools (Kanban Boards)

Kanban project management derives from a process developed by Toyota for its vehicle manufacturing process involving cards that signal the beginning of each new task. For example, one worker passes down a card indicating completion of their task to the next, who then moves the card to the next worker upon completing their work. In engineering, this visual process is made possible through project management tools. It helps engineering leaders to visualize bottlenecks and find opportunities to improve workflows by reassigning tasks.

File-Sharing Platforms

Typical documentation, such as text files, spreadsheets, and presentations, can often be attached to an email and sent to a recipient. However, some files are too large for this delivery method. Take, for example, CAD files, digital files that may contain a technical drawing, blueprint, or 3D rendering. These types of files are also confidential in many instances. A file-sharing platform allows engineers to share large files quickly and securely. With a cloud-based digital platform, such as Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive, sharing these files with anyone in the world is simplified.

Feedback Surveys

After a product is delivered, the next phase involves assessing its effectiveness. End users can provide feedback on the product’s functionality so that engineers can implement improvements in future iterations. Feedback is also essential for team effectiveness. Engineering projects can become very complex, leaving lots of room for error. With feedback assessment tools such as SurveyMonkey, leaders can survey their teams to identify gap areas and implement policies and procedures that improve processes.

Communication Tools: Resources for Engineers

Learn more about the communication tools available to engineers and engineering managers.

How to Improve Engineering Communication Capabilities

Communication is an essential skill for engineers and highly valued by hiring managers. Engineers interested in improving their skills can take steps to improve their communication competencies. Tips include:

These tips can help leadership communication:

  • Leave communication lines open for employees. Encourage employees to express ideas and complaints.
  • Make communication procedures and rules clear. Policies such as prohibiting interruptions or holding questions until a presentation’s end can help meetings flow smoothly.
  • Give regular feedback. Continually let team members know how they are performing rather than waiting for a crisis point.
  • Give regular updates about goals and visions. Be sure that employees understand a project’s overall vision and the roles they each play in achieving it.

Resources for Improving Communication Skills

The following resources provide tips and insights for improving engineering communication skills.

Take Your Engineering Communication Skills to the Next Level

Engineers drive innovation, improve processes, and solve problems. A well-rounded engineer not only has a deep understanding of engineering and management but can also collaborate well with others, engineers and nonengineers alike. Individuals looking for leadership opportunities can open new doors by developing and polishing their communication skills.