The definition of communication is one that varies and has alternative meanings. There is ‘Alternative Communication’, ‘Asynchronous Communication’ and ‘Basic Communication’. In its most basic form, communication is defined as ‘The process of sharing information, especially when this increases understanding between people or groups’. So now we’ve covered what communication is, it’s time delve a little deeper into its purpose, how we can use it effectively and what methods are out there for updating our communication style.
Communication never became as essential and in essence a lifeline as when the pandemic was at its peak and we as society relied upon alternative communication methods to keep our businesses afloat, our relatives updated and to find out all the latest information relating to the outbreak of a novel virus circulating the world. But we didn’t end the many ways we communicate post-pandemic, we just increased them. Why do we want more ways of communicating, don’t we have enough? Well, we seek to communicate with others to find out more, to connect, to learn and to share and with the amount of information that is out in the world, it’s important to narrow down how we disseminate it and get it to reach our target audience. Think about which news channel or newspaper you gravitated towards when seeking out news on the pandemic, there is a reason why that said channel/newspaper was your go-to; you trusted it, you enjoyed its delivery and medium. So we as distributors need to really think about our target audience and how they consume our communications.
Methods and efficacy
Its key to drill down a bit further into who you are wanting to communicate with. If it’s your team, for example, and you are split cross-country and work remotely, you’re going to want to keep your channels open, set clear timeframes for speaking and inject fresh, new ways of delivering information to keep your team engaged. For example, drop the email exchange once in a while and book in a video call to reconnect with your team member, maybe they have new information to share with you or vice versa.
Make your group emails note-worthy and punchy; don’t just send an email per update, capture a list of updates in one round robin email whilst you’ve got the intended readers attention so they don’t just disregard a multitude of updates (our inboxes are fuller than ever!).
And whilst we are talking about changing it up, why not turn your meetings around and do the check in at the end of your call so you mix up the communication style – instead of hearting about everyone’s weekends first, get the work bit out of the way and then have a relaxing 5-10 minutes at the end where you can all really listen having got your priorities off the list.
With so many platforms to choose from and mostly all for free, it’s a great idea to get your communication updates on to social media to share your business news, progress and events. Perhaps someone new has joined your team – why not showcase and introduce them on LinkedIn with a welcome post. This connects your new starter with the wider business and welcomes them to the network you are in. Or what about your next annual conference or business event in your calendar…why limit it to an event invite when you can get it shared for free to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc to reach a wider and more varied audience.
Mailers are great for sharing a detailed brief about your event which can be made into engaging content with the use of event photos, quotes or freebies such as event merch or free services provided at your event.
How can I improve my communication skills?
When we seek out information about a company or small business we want to know more about, we often go to the internet / social media channels to investigate and see what information is there (gone are the days of the Yellow Pages…). If your LinkedIn or company website is lying dormant, it’s not open to communication. You need to refresh your contact details, company information and who’s who page so that people know who you are and what you do.
And whilst refreshing company information, make sure your own methods of communication are up to date; is your email signature accurate and contains the correct communication methods for contacting you i.e. work mobile, email address etc? Perhaps include your working hours to set clear communication boundaries. You can also ensure your work calendar is updated regularly so people know whether then can approach you to diarise a meeting. Communication goes two-ways so by giving as much detail as you can in your signature/automatic replies, you set the tone and establish the boundaries for communication.
Think outside the box; if you are going to hold a meeting with someone from overseas for example, are they going to be on the same level if you put it in for the end of their working day? What time zone are they in and do they have good wifi for a video call? These little details can make a difference to the quality and impact of your communications.
Be respectful of time; it’s easy to forget when we’re on a video call where the time goes but try to be prompt in keeping your meeting running to time (an agenda can help underpin the meeting structure and time). Make sure you are ready at the meeting time and have set up your MS Teams/ Zoom or laptop beforehand to dodge any pending software updates or battery issues! Another great tool before a meeting is to visit the minutes from your last meeting; minute taking is a really strong way of capturing what was communicated and expressed at your meeting as well as outlining actions for you and others to follow up on.
If you would like to review communications within your business, want to revive your channels or get more organised with a structured agenda, minute taking and more, please get in touch today for the support we provide with all of those tasks daily.