We can all agree that communication is the only thing that gets us anywhere. Even in the most primitive times, there was the beating of fists on chests, points and grunts to get the message across.
With the speed that the digital world moves it hasn’t taken long for our primary communication channels to take new forms. From face to face visits, to phone calls, to email, to now instant chat services and online project management applications, our methods of communication are now quite diverse and each is effective for its own purpose.
It can be hard to keep track of what platform should be used for what form of communication. It’s good every now and then to go through all of the channels and see that you’re using the most efficient form of communication for what you want to achieve.
Here are some ways to communicate and how to do it strongly.
Even with the integration of things like chatting services and project management software, we haven’t eliminated the need for good old-fashioned email. Email is the digital version of a paper trail, keeping a record of conversation history.
There is a fine art to email communication. Haven’t we all felt the pressure of filling in the perfect subject line and going through an email message again and again, willing the recipient to reply promptly?
Emails need to get their message across quickly. The subject line needs to tell the recipient exactly what the message is about before they even open the email. The message itself should be as short as possible, people don’t like to spend a lot of time reading emails so it is really important that your message comes across quickly and clearly.
Social media is one of those digital advancements that businesses these days just can’t survive without. Regardless of whether or not you get on board with social media in your personal life, it is so important that your business is accessible through these channels.
Social media is most useful for projecting your brand, or your professional identity to the rest of the world. Often, a client’s first impressions of your business will be through social media and in certain industries, this is where new customers will make their first enquiries about your services.
Your social media presence can be communication a lot without you ever actually having a conversation. What you post reflects your expertise, represents your values and creates a persona that a digital audience can build a relationship with. A social media profile will give clients and customers and idea of the people they will be dealing with before they have even made first contact. It is important that your social media profiles reflect your brand’s personality.
Face to face
Face to face meetings are the best way to communicate anything with a lot of detail, like the start of a project. It is also best to do group brainstorming in person to encourage creative thinking. Face to face meetings mean that there is no limitation on the questions that can be asked and ideas can bounce back and forward until a clear conclusion is drawn.
Meeting someone face to face will always be the most personal way to interact, and a way to build closer relationships with the people you are working with. Scheduling in a face to face meeting at the beginning of a working relationship will make future digital communications easier to translate. Once you’ve met someone in person you can generally gauge their personality and can understand the tone of any written correspondence to come.
Phone calls are the second most personal form of communication. While the digital age has allowed us to send messages quickly and get back to work, people still need to know that there is a real human connected to the other end of that digital conversation. They also tend to respond faster to verbal requests than something they can pretend they didn’t see until they’re ready to look at it.
Phone calls are always the best port of call for following up on information, tidying up miscommunications, or just getting a small detail cleared up quickly. You never know how long you might be waiting for an email reply. When impatience or just plain urgency wins over, it’s time to pick up the phone!
Perhaps one of the newest forms of digital communication that we all need to get on board with, is instant messaging. Messaging services like Slack are a great tool for creating a smoothly running workflow. Interaction with clients as well as colleagues can be shot off instantly, for quick responses with little interruption to anyone's work.
Services like this can also be used to share files or images instantly, communicating ideas as they arise. Instant messaging can make a client feel more directly involved in a project as well, as they are able to be involved in a more personal manner.
Of course, the means of communication that are most efficient for you will depend on your industry. You may not find a need for every single avenue of interaction with your colleagues and clients, but at least you will know your options and how to use them to your advantage.