5 Tips for Effective Business Communication

Communication skills are one of the most important tools in a professional’s toolbox. Daily business operations typically depend on verbal interactions, emails, phone calls, or some other form of communication. Effective communication can be a major factor in receiving a promotion, making a deal with a new client, or pitching an idea to business executives. 

Associate Professor of Business Communications, Jen O’Meara, Ph.D., shared her top five tips for how to communicate successfully in a business setting. 

1. Use the right channel for your message.

There are many ways to communicate with your colleagues. Make sure you use the most appropriate tool for your message. If you’re delivering a formal announcement (such as the office being closed for a certain holiday), use an official channel like office email or a company-wide memo. If you’re delivering an informal message (such as details about the Marketing Department's annual softball game), you could send an instant message or text message system.

2. Always consider your audience.

Communication is about what you want to say...but it’s also about what your audience needs to hear. It is important to consider the point of view of the audience in any communication. For example, imagine you’re launching a fitness initiative at work that you know won't be popular with the entire staff. When presenting the information, you may want to include details about the health benefits of the contest to help convince those who might not be interested in the idea.

With an audience in mind, it is also important to consider your word choice!

3. Short, familiar words are usually a better choice than long, unfamiliar ones.

This sentence, "Proponents of an inflated vocabulary purport to being sophisticated," can be written more simply and effectively as, "People who use big words think they sound sophisticated." Simple writing is easier for your audience to read and understand. If your reader is tripping on your vocabulary, the message you are trying to get across is likely to become lost.

No matter your word choice, people will always have questions. Be prepared for them by considering this advice:

4. Anticipate what questions may be asked and have your answers ready.

If you’re giving a presentation on an obscure topic (such as The Longevity of Carbon Fibers and How They Relate to Cat Food), it’s likely that someone will ask how you became interested in the topic. You don't have to include that information in the presentation itself, but it’s a good idea to have the answer prepared for the Q and A session. 

Try practicing your presentation in front of family members, friends, or colleagues to get an idea of possible questions your audience might ask!

5. Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal.

Remember that 93% of communication is non-verbal. When answering questions, giving a presentation, or communicating in general, keep in mind your non-verbal cues and communication. Be sure that your posture, gestures, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues are conveying a message that is consistent with your verbal one. If you don’t appear to believe the message you are delivering, your audience will have a hard time believing it too. 

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