Whether communicating with employees, vendors or customers, ensuring that you're producing effective messages is vitally important to the success of your business. To be sure your business communication is on target, you should ensure that it contains the five characteristics that are common to the most effective messages.
Effective messages include a clear purpose to inform, persuade or collaborate with the intended audience. The message should be designed according to the audience’s level of understanding, potential reaction and relationship with the composer. Generally, it's best to include only one main idea in each message, unless there are closely related issues that must be addressed together. Having a clear purpose in business communication will also help determine the medium used to deliver the message.
It's also important to choose the appropriate channel to deliver the message. Email communication can be used for delivery to large audiences, while face-to-face communication is more appropriate for smaller groups. Formal communication that needs documentation, such as employee reviews or policy changes, will be best in written form. It's up to the sender to determine which outlet is most appropriate for a particular message. For example, a video presentation announcing a company social is a creative and fun way to excite employees, while using video to announce a death in the CEO’s family may come across as insensitive. The medium should complement, not distort, the purpose of the message.
Business communication requires a high level of accuracy in reporting information. Characteristics of effective business messages include clear dates, facts, resources and schedules that should be double-checked for completeness and clarity. Effective messages are also free of jargon, slang and "corporate speak." For instance, instead of saying that, “the corporation utilizes premium opportunities to expand on strategies,” simplify it by saying, “our team uses the best resources to help our business grow.”
Written and verbal communication will only be effective when its messages are complete. Business messages that tell only part of the story are apt to confuse recipients and fail to engage them as intended. A good test is to ask whether any message answers all the following questions: who, what, when, where, why and how. The only way for employees, vendors or business partners to be able act on a message is if they're provided with its full scope.
Regardless of whether business communication is meant for venture capitalists or security personnel, people only pay attention to what interests them. The most effective messages are short, engaging and to the point. Most people won't find every message interesting, so effective messaging in business communication should include a bit of creativity. Summarizing and condensing messages will increase the chance that they'll be read, while emphasizing ideas of great interest will encourage feedback and action.
- “Excellence in Business Communication”; John V. Thill/ Courtland L Bovee; 1991
- “The Public Relations Writer’s Handbook; The Digital Age”; Merry Aronson, et.al; 2007
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