Effective business communication is the difference between getting work done or not at all. But how do you know if your team has good communication skills? Well, to start, you don’t experience any of the following problems that happen as a result of poor communication:
- Time-consuming email rewrites
- Long, incomprehensible email chains
- Work not getting done
- Low-quality or incorrect work product
- Misaligned priorities
These problems stem from a rambling prose style of writing many of us learn in academic settings. A big part of achieving better team communication requires unlearning these bad habits. Here’s how to start.
5 Tips for Effective Business Communication
1. Tell People What You Want First
Starting an email with background or an explanation of a situation confuses your reader and invites misinterpretation. This causes frustration and increases the chance your readers won’t finish your email.
What do you want your reader to do? This is what the reader is searching for. Good business communicators begin with this purpose in the opening paragraph. This makes it much easier for the reader to understand and complete the task because they don’t have to stop to ask questions as they read. It also creates accountability because the reader and the writer know what the other is expecting from them.
2. List Out Your Key Points
Creating a bulleted list of key points helps readers know exactly why you are asking them to do something. And they don’t have to dig through tons of information to figure it out. Plus, it removes the need to provide extensive background information in the introduction, so you can lead with purpose!
Whereas narrative paragraphs bury the key points, a bulleted list makes the message clear, comprehensible and memorable. It’s also easier to write!
3. Use Simple, Conversational Words
As fun as it is to show off how smart you are by using big, sophisticated words, it makes your email or document more confusing for readers.
Good communicators avoid stuffy, academic words and instead use simple words to cut out confusion and make things clearer. This makes life easier for both receiver and sender.
4. Finish with a Deadline
Ending your email with a specific deadline helps set clear expectations for the reader. Time makes things real. Without the context of time, things disappear from the reader’s mind. It is easy to put things off and get lost in a sea of emails.
Lastly, skip clichéd phrases like “as soon as possible,” “at your earliest convenience” or “prompt attention.” They’re vague and give readers too much opportunity to put off your request.
5. Write to Get Things Done
Emails that start with purpose, list key points, use simple words and end with a deadline get things done. The biggest sign of good business communication is work happening on-time and at a high quality!
Effective communication practices save time, prevent rework and help teams get more done. These practices also are just as applicable to speaking as they are for writing. So, whether presenting your ideas in written or verbal form, you will be more successful, and more impressive to your colleagues, if you start incorporating these business communication practices.
If you’ve noticed any area that needs improvement, we can help! We offer the most immediately effective online writing course for businesses—and you can demo the course for FREE now.