Now that you’re aware of what Good Business Communication looks like, it’s time to start thinking about the practices you can adopt to improve your own. For starters, you may be blissfully unaware of the gaps in your business communication and the right practices you need to fill in those gaps.
Browse the video lesson below to learn more about the practices of Good Business Communication. And remember to take the quiz at the end of the lesson.
This lesson is in video format.
We recognise that some participants prefer reading to listening. If you are one of them, then you can access a transcript of the lesson by clicking on the View Transcript button below the video.
In the last lesson, we outlined the four, universally viable principles one can use to improve their communication quotient, namely:
Consider the following examples of objectives set for an email communique, as an illustration:
Illustration 01: I am writing this email to convince management about the advantages of a new machine, which I am proposing.
Illustration 02: I am writing this email to show the management that they need to buy the new machine because:
(a) It will result in a 30% saving in operational costs
(b) It is more durable (and hence decreases maintenance cost by 6%)
(c) The company promises a 24 hour TAT on service requests, as opposed to the 48 hour TAT that the current machine manufacturer promises
Clearly, when the objective is defined as clearly as it has been in the second illustration, one knows exactly what points or data would need to be added in the communication to meet the desired outcome. One would add all the information or data relative to the three points that are required to convince management about one’s point of view. Importantly, only that much will be added. One might be tempted to add ‘good-to-know’ points like, say, the good design of the machine, or the friendliness of the sales staff of the seller. But, these points, while good, are not strictly required to meet the desired objective. Thus, these fabulous minor items can and should be omitted.
But, how does one go about setting clear communication objectives? Enter…
Audience Profiling: The key to a clear definition of one’s communication objectives
Writing a clear communication objective requires one to have a clear understanding of one’s audience. The data, information, or even communication style that might be ideal for one segment of an audience to meet a set objective could differ drastically from what might be required for a different set of audience members. For e.g. Seasoned professionals and college students who might be subscribers to the same free version of a project management software, might need to be influenced very differently to go for a premium upgrade.
To continue the illustration we had used earlier, if one needed to also convince the idea of the changing over to new machinery to, say, the plant supervisor, then one might need to present a different set of points.
So, in this case, one might talk about reduction in downtime, less manual interventions as a benefit of using the machine. These are points that the plant supervisor is especially concerned with. Management, on the other hand, would be more interested in issues concerning the overall profit and loss impact of changing over to the new machinery.
Communication effectiveness, therefore, requires having a clear understanding of the audience that will receive the communication.
This can be achieved by focusing on answering four critical questions, namely:
1) What’s my audience’s demography? (Age, gender, location)
2) What do I want them to
b. Think and
after they read/hear my communication?
3) Are there any specific data points that would greatly influence them, if added in?
4) What objections/reservations can I foresee them having about my communication?
Factoring these considerations into your communication, guided by your communication objectives will ensure you craft winning communication pieces at all times.
The three ‘C’s, namely:
i. Clarity, i.e. free from vagueness and jargon.
ii. Completeness, i.e. having all required and relevant details or information, and
iii. Conciseness, i.e. conveying the message using the fewest words possible, and after having discarded any bit that can is not strictly required to meet communication goals
…ensures your communication retains impact while being respectful of your audiences time and sensibilities. There are exceptions to this rule, to be fair, i.e. situations where intricate detail is required, but as we said, they’re exceptions, not the norm.
Aggression, sarcasm, insults and personal attacks have no place in business communication. And for that matter, neither do racial/ ethnic/ religious slurs.
In addition to this, one needs to be mindful of the fact that when the recipient of your communication feels like you are ‘attacking’ them, their position, their belief or their value system, you need to be extra careful in how you phrase your communication.
And as a rule of thumb: if the matter is sensitive and if at all possible, avoid using email as the first option to communicate. Face-to-face discussions or at least telephonic calls are far better options. Because emails tend to be easily misconstrued, especially with reference to tone.
Business communication protocol is not only a set of professional rules but also a code of conduct used to guide business-related behaviours and etiquette.
Evolved business communications skills are critical for career success, with all due respect to technical or functional skills.
Here are a few points to bear in mind with regards to maintaining communication protocol:
Now you know what good business communication looks like, and more importantly – you know what to do to craft effective communication pieces consistently. Knowing what to do is the easy part though – it’s the point of putting it into practice that not everyone gets to. And without practice, you’ll eventually convince yourself these principles are just good in theory. You’ve seen evidence to the contrary here. All you need to do now is give it a shot.
Please take the accompanying quiz to proceed.