Communication has come a long way in just the last five years, and it continues to evolve as technology and social media evolve. For the modern businessperson, the sheer availability of mediums is staggering, but thrilling. For every instance of necessary communication, be it internal, external, important or fleeting, there's an appropriate form of messaging. However, it's all too easy to get lost in our own preferences, and forget how much impact our choice of medium can have on the interpretation of our messages.
Convenience Doesn't Always Mean Efficiency
Technologies tend to evolve in favor of convenience. Making a phone call from a dedicated landline was once the most convenient means of communication available--you could connect across the country in an instant! Today, you can send text messages, initiate calls, or even transmit video messages all on a single, mobile, handheld device. Each of us has personal preferences for communication based on what we feel is easiest--for example, some people have an easier time writing than speaking, and some people prefer meeting in person rather than the impersonality of text. But it's important to see beyond the limits of our own convenience.
The selection of a medium can have a drastic impact on both the efficiency of your communication and the interpretation of your message. In this article, we'll explore different communication mediums and assess their pros and cons.
Text-based communication is one of the most popular categories used. Emails, SMS text messages, social media interaction, and instant messaging programs are all widely used by companies to accelerate communication between parties. However, there are some limitations to text-based communication, so it's not always the most appropriate.
Text is fast and precise, and it holds people accountable to their messages, but it's also impersonal and subject to interpretation. It's an excellent choice of medium, but only when your message is better served by being on the record than it is by being conveyed with emotion.
Voice calls are starting to become obsolete. Text messages are more concise, and video calls are more personal. Still, vocal interaction has a place for many people.
Overall, phone calls are great for connecting several remote people at once, but the inefficiency of communication often makes in-person meetings or text messages better options.
Video calls are a significant alternative to in-person meetings, for when people want the experience of a face-to-face meeting, but can't geographically connect. Skype and FaceTime are two of the most popular video chat applications, but there are many options available.
Video calls are a great substitute for an in-person meeting, but only if it's impossible to meet in person, you have a great connection, and there are only a handful of participants. Otherwise, you might end up frustrating more people than you end up informing.
In-person meetings have been the go-to for decades, and they're still highly effective--provided you have the ability to meet.
In-person meetings are still preferential if you're trying to build or maintain a relationship, but otherwise, they can be inefficient and inconvenient.
Making the Right Choice
Every situation is unique. It's almost impossible to select one communication medium that can support all your business needs. The most successful businesspeople of 2015 are going to be the ones who learn to master effective communication--not necessarily by improving their messages, but rather by improving the delivery of their messages. Use each medium to its greatest advantage, and you'll be able to get the most out of every conversation you have.