11 Keys For Better Business Communication
Sept. 3, 2020
If your workplace has gone remote as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, then you likely have encountered problems with communication. They could be technical barriers, like spotty internet, or human barriers. Regardless, communication is even more important now than ever.
But what can professionals do to improve? Is there anything that can be done on a company level? We asked 11 experts to share their ideas for how business professionals can have better business communication.
Schedule Unexpected Communication
The best communication is sometimes unexpected. As a CEO, I’ve made it a practice to schedule unexpected meetings. These are meetings that are on my personal calendar but are absent from the calendars of attendees. While this may sound unorthodox, I’ve found that unexpected meetings accomplish a few things.
One, it ensures that the necessary frequency of communication occurs. If a task isn’t scheduled, it won’t get done. But it also ensures the communication is authentic. Without time to prepare, a conversation can be candid, open, and more free. If any leader is looking to improve communication, make sure that it takes place and is meaningful. Unexpected meetings are my method for doing just that.
Brett Farmiloe ‘06 BSBA (Accounting), CEO and Founder of Markitors
Have Your Team Communicate Their Tasks Back to You
When wrapping up a meeting or conversation about a task, make certain that both you and the people you are speaking with completely understand what they need to do. Ask for questions and repeat key points. Go so far as to have your team tell you what they have to do back to you in order to determine if they have all the information they need. If they can’t clearly communicate back to you what their tasks are, then there’s your indication to clarify and re-explain as needed.
Kristy Bach, COO of BestCompaniesAZ
We all have to change how we're communicating now that remote work is prominent. Over-communication and steady cadence both work well. You may need to send your team (or manager) updates and project progress regularly now when you didn't need to in the past.
Jason Puckett ’08 BSBA (Marketing/ Advertising), Senior Manager of Search Marketing at Airbnb
Invest in Quality Audio
Audio is actually more important than video when working remotely. Nothing is more annoying than background noise, bad microphones or similar. Invest in inexpensive microphones for your team (the onboard microphone on your laptop is probably not very good), or at least get licenses for an AI-powered background noise reducer app like Krisp.ai.
Jay Baer ’92 BA (Political Science), Keynote Speaker
Let It Out First, but Don't Hit Send Yet
If it's an email or a chat, and you find yourself writing a paragraph—go ahead and let it out—it's a helpful exercise. But don't hit send. Take a moment and find the most important bits, and rephrase what you just wrote to get to the point or make your ask clear with minimal effort from the recipient.
Joshua Schlag ’05 BS (Computer Science) ’11 MBA, Digital Marketing Manager at Pyramid Analytics
Find Methods to Reinforce Communication
We make a practice to alter methods of communication to ensure that our professionals pick up the phone to call our clients and associates when discussing important topics. We then follow up with digital communication to reinforce communication. In this day of separated work environments, one needs to make sure that digital communication methods do not get misinterpreted or under prioritized.
David Musselmann ’94 BSBA (Marketing), President and CEO of Paramount Financial
Daily Team Meetings
Communication and transparency are going to be key when working remotely. From a management perspective, I recommend team members have daily meetings to share their goals, struggles and accomplishments. This helps keep the team engaged and communication high. From an employee or student standpoint, make sure your weekly/monthly/quarterly goals, expectations and deadlines are clearly defined. Ask questions and be proactive about reaching out when issues arise.
Megan Hari ’14 BSBA ( Marketing), Director of Marketing at Swoon
Ensure the Message Is Understood Across the Board
As workplaces have gone remote, it's essential that people learn to communicate clearly and frequently to help get the message across to their teams, clients and partners. Overcommunication is better than under communication in times where you lack face-to-face connection and communication is now entirely digital.
Elyse Flynn Meyer ’07 BSBA (Marketing and International Business), President and Founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions
Utilize A Screen Capture Program
The majority of employees at my company work remotely, and when working outside the office, you run into technical issues. A tool I recommend to help avoid frustration is a screen capture program. As a company we use Snagit, though there are many screen capture programs that are sufficient to use.
Brian Greenberg ’00 BSBA (Entrepreneurship, Marketing), CEO and Founder of True Blue Life Insurance
Find Tools for Instant Communication
Dedicate specific team boards or chat rooms so that instant communication can happen between team members. Tools like G-Chat on Google are excellent for questions that need to be answered quickly, file sharing and other time-sensitive communication. Emails and virtual to-do lists are fine for organization and scheduling, but when it comes to communication, team members need to be able to reach each other easily and quickly.
Jenn Christie, Head of Growth and Marketing at Y Scouts
Double & Triple Check
Take your time with your writing. Read and re-read. There is no one with a stopwatch monitoring how long it takes you to write an email or waiting to hand you a prize for the fastest hands in the West. When I finally realized that it was okay to take 20 minutes on an email (pending there was no urgency) my response rate significantly improved, I set more meetings, and there were far less follow up questions. In some cases when the email is going to a C-suite executive or this email is making or breaking the start of an important deal, I can take upwards of an hour before it is just right. Believe me, people notice bad emails and it directly reflects your professionalism and how they will see you as a peer. I also recommend downloading Grammarly. Grammarly is a grammar tool that gamifies email writing with fun emojis and scores all while checking for errors, tone, clarity and delivery. It's a must-have for me.
Stephanie Feder, VP of Business Development at Qwick
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