Communication is very important in business. How you present yourself, what you say, and your demeanour says a great deal to your clients about what they can expect from you.
The same goes for your colleagues when you interact, and being as transparent and straightforward as possible is a boon to your interactions and workflow. Research and experience from professionals in the industry show that there are simple techniques to facilitate effective, transparent communication, especially in meetings.
Whether you’re dealing with a video conference or the boardroom, there are ways to make sure that the meaning of your points are made the right way.
1. Meeting with telecommuters
Entrepreneur cites several studies that indicate allowing employees to telecommute can actually lead to improved productivity, regardless of the lack of direct supervision. This can be augmented by having particular days where employees must arrive on-site and get in touch via video conference to maintain the face to face component of the job. Bluejeans provides a professional Blue Jeans video conferencing system that’s optimized for use both in a large conference room on-site, as well as allowing staff from off-site at their home computers or tablets to join the meeting. This kind of communication is just as effective as in-person communication, so if it suits your company’s needs, don’t be afraid to utilize it.
2. Stick to the rules
Business 2 Community suggests that in order to have the most productive communication possible within the context of a meeting discussion, you should always lay out a few ground rules. Make sure that everyone stays on task and assign responsibilities. If someone is taking minutes, make sure that person is prepared. You’ll need someone to troubleshoot the tech side if necessary. Keep a talking time limit intact and don’t let a colleague who likes the sound of their own voice get the entire meeting off track. If you’re in a video conference, you’ll already be dealing with a roomful of people in addition to those on screen, so you’ll need to take special care that everyone falls into line in order to streamline discussions.
3. Go one on one
Talking one on one is imperative to communication with employees, according to Small Business Trends. While having larger meetings is important, there’s much to be said for face to face interaction between two people. There are two ways to derive information, and trying to do so from a group versus an individual is completely different. Video conferencing is also a great way to set up a meeting with an individual. Whether you need to discuss a project with the team leader, or you’re going to do an employee evaluation, doing it over video is an efficient way to get the job done. This also saves the time of trying to set up a date that works for both of you, since it’s much easier to do so when it’s only two people. This is another reason why going one on one can be more effective than a large meeting. Video conferencing makes scheduling easier in general.
The dynamic of interacting with a single person also changes if you’re being given an update. Different types of personalities will handle the situation differently. If you’re dealing with a very straightforward person who’s not afraid to share the good along with the bad, then you can have a very productive and potentially brief interaction. This might get much more done in only a few minutes than an hour-long meeting with a larger group of colleagues. On the other hand, be careful if you’re going to be doing the opposite and wasting time if you’re dealing with an employee you know fears confrontation of any kind. It’s all a matter of tailoring your communication approach to the type of person which whom you’re dealing and make sure you are transparent.
4. Ask questions
Active listening is always useful, and so is asking questions. While it can be harder to fit in a question if you’re dealing with a large group of people, always make sure that you’re heard. If you’re the meeting facilitator, then make sure that there’s room for questions. If something isn’t clear to a meeting participant, then the entire discussion is going to be pointless. Communication is all about comprehension, so if a colleague is describing a project or problem and you don’t understand what they’re trying to say, always ask for a better explanation. Make sure to phrase it as a question, though, and not a demand lest, they take it as an insult.
Communication is one of the most important elements in a transparent business to which you always need to pay attention. It can make or break entire projects and dramatically impact client relationships. You need to ensure that your communication is not only effective in the workplace, but that the actual tone is professional and amicable. The best way to make sure communication is transparent is to always explain exactly what you mean, and confirm that your meaning is being taken clearly. Don’t ever be afraid to clarify.