We don’t need to tell you how much the communications landscape has changed. With remote and hybrid working, social media, and digital technology, communication is different even from five years ago. The old favorite all-staff email probably no longer hits the mark. But has your organization kept up with the pace of change? With so much going on, staying on top of communication best practices is a real challenge, right?
Now is the perfect time to review your communications to ensure they are still fit for purpose. By and large, workplaces have adapted to post-Covid ways of working, and much has been learned along the way.
Here we share the latest insights as we explore effective communication best practices. Use these to guide a review of your company’s communication. It could be employees, stakeholders, or customers. And with productivity, employee engagement, collaboration, and customer experience all on the line, there’s a lot at stake.
However, communication is also about the individual. That’s why we highlight best practices for personal communication as well. Use these to ensure your communications are on song. Let’s get started.
8 Communication Best Practices
1. Plan For Success
In many organizations, communications happen on the hoof. However, if you want to get the right message out at the right time via the right channel, you need to plan.
Top-performing businesses understand that effective communications don’t just happen. Diverse audiences, messages, and channels mean a communications strategy is the essential starting point.
A plan provides a sense of direction and an overall framework for corporate messaging.
First, think about the overall objectives for your communications. What is it you are trying to achieve?
Next, identify the different audiences. It could be stakeholders, partners, collaborators, or customers. Even the workforce will be made of different audiences, including teams, locations, or job roles.
Then consider the types of messages in your business. There’s bound to be a huge variety. Staff updates, company news, customer marketing, and stakeholder collaboration are just some of the possibilities.
Now it’s time to consider communications channels. Different messages and audiences will require different channels. For example, customers may prefer to receive information on new products via social media. And business IM could be the best way to advise employees about a team-building event.
Finally, set a budget. Communication is a critical activity for every organization and so should be appropriately resourced. Setting a budget helps you prioritize what’s important and achievable.
Armed with a strategic communications roadmap, implementing the following best practices is a whole lot easier.
2. Make It Personal
With so much data at our fingertips, information overload has become a real problem. Concise, targeted communications ensure you cut through all the noise. Nowadays, best practice encourages employees to set their communication preferences.
Therefore, consider creating #channels on the team chat. It could be #sales, #marketing, or #big ideas. Staff can choose to follow topics relevant to their jobs and interests. And they can turn notifications on or off, giving them space to concentrate on that crucial task when needed.
Similarly, your intranet newsfeed can be personalized. Company and industry news is mixed with team updates. Furthermore, social intranet features mean workers can create team or individual activity walls. And just like social media, colleagues select who to follow.
Personalized communication ensures staff don’t become overloaded and distracted by irrelevant messages. With less blah, team members can instead focus on more action.
3. Tell A Story
When it comes to getting your message across, facts and figures are easily forgotten. Stories, on the other, are far more memorable.
Use storytelling to bring your corporate messaging to life. Instead of publishing the new employee wellness strategy with a memo, make it relevant by giving some real-life work examples. Storytelling is not only more engaging; it has extra impact if workers can see themselves reflected.
Look at finding ways for employees to share their stories with colleagues. A day-in-the-life news feature, team blog, or employee of the month story are just some of the options.
4. Keep It Visual
Marketing strategist Kim Garst once said, ‘Visuals express ideas in a snackable manner.’ And that sums up nicely the power of visual communication. Visual communication done the right way conveys far more information than text alone. And it’s much easier to digest.
Whether it’s infographics, videos, or slide presentations, visuals inspire, inform and entertain. That’s why visual communication has become best practice for top-performing organizations.
5. Ensure Communication Is Two-Way
The days of top-down communication only are gone. Nowadays, communication best practice is multi-directional. After all, cross-team collaboration is impossible without effective communication.
So, when developing your communications strategy, look to include channels up, down, and across the business. And make sure there are opportunities for staff to give feedback to management or share insights and ideas.
Possibilities to consider include business IM, blogs, forums, and activity walls. Two-way communication bridges the gaps between head office and remote staff. Departmental silos are broken down, and collaboration is a whole lot easier.
Plus, two-way communication promotes an inclusive company culture. Staff feel their opinions and contributions are valued. The result is a more motivated and engaged workforce that’s connected to each other and organizational goals.
6. Allow For Informal Communication
According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, the number of remote workers is expected to nearly double pre-Covid levels over the next five years. The report predicts that a whopping 36.2 million Americans will be remote by 2025. However, the casual conversations between employees that underpin every workplace have become much harder.
Communication best practice in 2021 actively encourages informal communication. Water cooler conversations and general chit-chat are even more important in distributed or remote teams. The pandemic has shown that loneliness and isolation are real issues for remote workers.
Make sure staff have opportunities to connect on a social level, regardless of location. Use Slack or team chat to create #timeout or #random channels where staff can connect informally. These channels provide a vital social outlet from exchanging tips on home working to chatting about weekend plans. Moreover, emojis, quizzes, and activity walls add a fun, social element that employees love.
7. Delivery Is As Important As The Message
Carefully select the most appropriate delivery channel for your message. For example, many non-desk workers don’t even have a company email address. An SMS text message or business IM is probably the most effective way to reach frontline workers.
Check in with employees, customers, and stakeholders to discover their communication preferences. In the ever-changing communications landscape, it’s essential to keep on top of how and where people are communicating. After all, messages that fail to reach the audience are signs of poor communication.
8. Measure Success
Communication that you just set and forget is a thing of the past. Best practice now measures and regularly reviews the success of communications. After all, without metrics, it’s impossible to understand the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Consider including a wide range of metrics to provide a comprehensive overview. Possibilities include the following:
- Number of opens
- Number of downloads
- Click-through rates
- Interactions such as likes, shares, comments
- Focus groups.
Metrics help you determine whether your communications plan is hitting the mark. So, be sure to review what the data is telling you regularly.
5 Best Practice Ways To Improve Your Personal Communication
Communication isn’t just about the corporate level. In any organization, communication is only as good as the individuals who practice it. Here are five ways to ensure your personal communications are effective.
1. Actively Listen
Whether you are the CEO or a frontline worker, active listening is essential for effective communication. In fact, all the best communicators listen more than they talk.
Active listening involves paying attention by summarizing what’s been heard and asking questions for clarification. It also means paying attention to your body language. Active listeners maintain eye contact, uncross their arms, and have an open, friendly manner.
2. Be Clear And Concise
If you want your message to be easily understood, you must be clear and concise. Your audience shouldn’t have to work hard to understand what’s said. Be upfront about the purpose of your communication and include a clear call to action.
Furthermore, use everyday language and avoid jargon. And stay away from monologues and long-winded explanations. Online tools like Grammarly are a great help in sharpening up your writing and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.
3. Be Relevant
All the best communicators know how to make their messages relevant to the audience. When creating your next communication, have the needs of your audience top of mind. How you talk to a customer will be different from a message to a colleague. When it comes to effective communication, tailoring your language and tone to the audience goes a long way.
4. Be Responsive
The best communicators are respectful of others. And there’s no better way to show respect than being responsive. Make it a priority to get back to people promptly. From colleagues to customers and vendors, respond to emails and return phone calls as quickly as possible. Your colleagues will feel appreciated, and customers will love your fantastic service.
5. Check Before You Send
Be sure to proofread your communications before you hit send. Even when you are on the go using a mobile, it’s vital to check for typos. Many an embarrassing error has slipped through with predictive text. These kinds of mistakes reflect poorly on your professionalism.
So, use spell checkers, or get a colleague to have a quick read-through. Alternatively, set your message to one side before reviewing it with a fresh pair of eyes. Whatever approach you use, make it a golden rule always to proofread your communications.
For more tips, check out our blog, 17 Sure-Fire Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills.
Communication Best Practices: Quick Summary
When it comes to communications in 2021, organizations can no longer afford to wing it. From productivity and decision-making to customer and employee satisfaction, communications are critical. Check out these statistics for confirmation:
- According to McKinsey, employee productivity increases by up to 25 percent in companies with connected employees.
- Research from ClearCompany found organizations that communicated effectively were 50 percent more likely to have lower staff turnover.
- Forbes reports that 96 percent of Americans contemplate switching companies after receiving poor service just once.
The first step to more effective communication is developing a plan. Make sure yours include the latest best practice innovations, including storytelling and visual media. And allow staff to personalize their communications for a more targeted, relevant approach.
Finally, encourage employees to review their personal communication styles, using the best practices identified. After all, when it comes to communication, an organization is only the sum of all its parts.
Interested in finding out more? The MyHub blog has a ton of insights on communication best practices.
Increase the effectiveness of your communications with a MyHub cloud intranet. Easy to implement and manage, our intranets come with various tools guaranteed to improve communications. MyHub’s platform ticks all the boxes, including IM, blogs, project spaces, and streamlined information sharing, plus much more. Sign up for a free demo or 14-day trial today.