The importance of studying business communication becomes all too clear when you are tasked with making a sale or presenting to a potential investor. You need to know how to speak and write with confidence and professionalism, all while giving information that converts.
But high-stakes communication isn't the only kind of business communication worth studying. Internal communications require just as much thought and effort in order to make sure you clearly convey information.
The importance of learning business communication skills in universities remains valid due to the intense hands-on study, opportunity to get important feedback and make revisions and get real-world practice via internships.
The Purpose of Studying Business Communication
Business communication is the art of communicating as clearly, precisely and directly as possible. Flowery, ambiguous and emotional language has no place in business communication. Regardless of whether you are writing an email, drafting a proposal, giving a presentation or speaking in a meeting, you generally have several goals:
- Leave little room for interpretation.
- Do not waste the recipient's time.
- Acknowledge and address any hesitations that your recipient may have.
- Explain your claims and back them up with data when possible.
- Adapt your communication style based on your audience.
Of course, you learn a lot more about business communication at university than these five tips alone. But understanding what you need to do is just the first step. The purpose of studying business communication is to show you how to communicate and to give you ample practice time. As a freshman, you will probably make rookie mistakes, like say "um" 15 times per minute when giving a speech. But by the time you're ready to graduate, you'll barely even stutter.
Studying business communication at a university gives you an environment to grow without the additional pressure of trying to impress your boss and clients. You'll enter the workforce ready to prove your leadership potential.
Leave Little Room for Interpretation
Communication is a two-way process. You have ideas in your mind that you need to express through language. But when your recipient processes the message, they do so within their own personal framework of culture, experience and education. This means that they might add meaning to your statement or misinterpret what you said.
You can avoid this by being as precise as possible. For example, avoid using too many pronouns. Even if you feel like you're repeating yourself, use nouns to ensure your recipient knows exactly what you're referring to. Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation also represent crucial components for precise communication.
Don't be shy about naming deadlines, either. If you say, "I need this soon," what exactly does "soon" mean? In your mind, it could mean by the end of the day. In your recipient's mind, it could mean within a couple of days.
Do Not Waste the Recipient's Time
Business people love efficiency. They tend to also have a lot on their plate. If you need something, get straight to the point. You don't need to walk into someone's office and start chit-chatting about their kid's dance recital before you ask for a copy of the financial report. Just politely ask for the financial report and save the small-talk for the break room.
Also, be mindful of the proper "points of contact" within each department. It can be too easy to always talk to your manager when you have a question or need something. But if you have an IT question, for example, you can learn who to go to within the IT department without getting an extraneous person involved.
Acknowledge and Address Any Hesitations
Making a successful persuasive argument involves many nuances, and entire business communication classes are devoted to this purpose. One of the important things to keep in mind when tasked with making a business presentation to potential clients or investors is their natural hesitation.
You cannot ask clients or investors to take a huge leap of faith for a large amount of money. What's in it for them? How will your product or service honestly help them achieve their goals? It helps to directly acknowledge the reasons why they might not want your product or service, and then explain why they really should want it anyway.
For example, if the price seems too costly, break down all the features and benefits of your product or service. Give examples of the ROI previous clients experienced after working with your company.
Back Up Claims With Reasons or Data
Especially when you need to be persuasive in an email or presentation, be ready to back up your claims with statistics or solid reasoning. A business audience will not be impressed with extraneous claims, like, "This is the biggest invention since the Internet" or, "Your company will fail if you don't do this."
Instead, business people are impressed with statistics and performance analyses. Identify their pain points and explain how your solution addresses them. Share statistics about businesses who made the decision to use your product or service.
But this tip comes in handy even when you write internal emails. Let's say you need to make an announcement about an upcoming change. Your employees will appreciate it if you explain why the change is necessary. Demanding changes with no explanation can feel disrespectful to employees, and you can avoid a flurry of confused emails, phone calls and office visits by being direct in the first place.
Adapt Your Communication Style
Always know your audience and your communication goal. For example, talking to disgruntled customers requires a softer hand. You need to be ready to listen and sympathize, politely explain company policies and try to work toward a solution when you're in "customer service" mode.
But "persuasive presentation" mode requires a little more energy and excitement, whereas being invited to a board meeting means you need to understand the bylaws and when to speak.
Studying Business Communication Prepares for Leadership
What do great leaders have in common, regardless of their industry? They are confident communicators. The importance of studying business communication becomes even greater if you aspire to one day lead a company or branch out as an entrepreneur.
When you write with precision and impeccable grammar, punctuation and spelling, upper management trusts you to represent the company professionally in written documents. That means many of these assignments will fall to you for writing or review.
When you speak with clarity, have the confidence to ask difficult questions during meetings, or simply bring a persuasive excitement to the table during presentations, you'll be asked to participate in important client meetings more often.
Good Business Communication Makes You Invaluable
When you're able to adapt your tone to motivate your co-workers or soothe an upset customer, you'll become the go-to problem solver.
And when you're seen as a valuable asset to the company, you're more likely to be considered for promotion to managerial positions. If this is your ultimate goal, you have to understand the importance of learning business communication skills in universities. If you're already employed, ask your employer if they offer tuition reimbursement so that you can take a few classes and hone your skills. Study hard and make sure they know it was a fantastic investment.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.