Why Business Communication is All About Audience, Audience, Audience
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
This quote may seem straightforward, but Einstein packs a big punch with these words—especially when applied to business communications.
Because understanding something takes listening and learning—about who is receiving the message. You should communicate differently to an audience of customers and clients versus your own internal team or boss.
As a new year begins (with new hope), take time to understand the different audiences you communicate with and how your messages are being received.
Communicating with an Audience of Your Own Team/Organization
Think of a day’s worth of internal communications as a bucket of water being poured out. A little water drips to this department, a big splash goes company wide, etc. Some of the water soaks in, and some falls to the floor. In any one given day, workers within your organization send emails and chats, make phone calls, go to meetings, share documents, hold water cooler conversations, update websites/ social media, and even communicate by television or direct mail.
Which means of communication is most effective in which circumstances? Who is receiving which types of communications? How can communications be better organized?
Many businesses are choosing software interface tools to simplify and organize project management, proofing, team communication, video conferencing, file collaborations and more. These can be great resources, especially if managed correctly with consistency. Some popular tools linked here include project management tools like ProofHub, real-time chat tools like Microsoft Teams, document collaboration tools like G Suite, file sharing tools like OneDrive, and internal communication tools like Jive.
Establishing internal communication norms can provide consistency so employees are not scrambling to find information or reinvent the wheel. For example, is there a Google Drive to house frequently needed documents? Are there norms established for who to go to with questions on certain topics? Does the company share calendar information? Are norms established for communicating after hours?
Business Communication with an External Audience
Any external audience receiving communications needs to be engaged and interested. This means researching who finds the information relevant and why. Then, developing a strategy to tap into that interest. Author Dr. John Lund says that “men in general and women in business settings (so men all the time, and women mostly in a work setting only), want to know three things before they are willing to enter into a conversation with you: 1. Is what you want to talk about going to be painful? 2. How long is it going to take? 3. When you are done talking, what do you want from me?” He says that if the audience does not know these three things up front, they will make excuses to avoid a call (Forbes contributor Amy Rees Anderson).
For example, a salesperson may want to tell an audience how long a call or meeting will take and what the purpose is: “I will only take a few minutes of your time. I am calling to let you know about this product which may help you with this task.”
The communicator should always make any action steps clear. Is an email to inform only (if so, the reader should simply file in email files) or is there an action step? If so, make sure this is not buried.
In today’s society, just about everyone uses some sort of social networking in their everyday lives. Now, more and more businesses are starting to see the value in using social media as an outlet to reach their customers and target audience. Once you’ve decided to invest in social media, you might ask yourself…where do I start? Keep your social media content engaging.
Simplifying Business Communication for Any Audience
Any good communication starts with a clear headline/ subject line. Write your subject line with action steps addressed. For example: New Google Drive Organization- save this policy and reorganize by Friday.
Change modes of communications to engage multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic). For example, a video explanation of how to do a task to replace a document— is there a place to house instructional videos? Should something in a meeting be presented through role play to better get a message across than all verbal? Can teams work in groups rather than listen to a long presentation?
Use effective writing practices like chunking information, using bullets, and underlining. Engage an audience with humor, questioning, and storytelling. Think about how less can be more as you communicate.
One of the ways Artemis Consultants communicates with our clients and job seekers is through this blog. What suggestions do you have for article topics relevant to you?