COVID-19 has seen the supersonic rise in people’s use of digital communication. With social restrictions enforced and less opportunity to communicate face to face, we have enthusiastically embraced channels that allow us to still connect and do business, writes Jane Hillsdon, founder of DragonFly Marketing
With so many new channels on offer, we are now spoilt for choice as to how we might connect with another human.
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And while the communication platforms are ever-evolving, there are some age-old communication best practices that should be adhered to in order to effectively communicate using digital technology.
Try these communication tips
Email remains one of the primary communication tools for business. Despite the emerging communication technology around now, the majority of us still dip into our email inboxes at least daily (but mostly much more). However, because email is the most widely used form of communication in business, it generally means that peoples inboxes are exploding with emails. I know my inbox fills up daily with a mixture of business emails, personal emails, promotional emails, newsletters and updates, social media notifications and spam.
Argh! It’s little wonder that people are suffering from email overwhelm. So how do you get your email message to creates cut-through in your recipient’s inbox?
Use your subject line wisely
Ensure that your email subject line is succinct and provides reference as to what information will be found inside your email.
Keep your content succinct
Try and keep your content succinct also. There may be no word limits enforced in email communications but it is likely that your email recipient is as busy as you are. People are generally checking their emails between other jobs, so if they think that your email will take too long to read, they are likely to put it in the ‘too hard basket’.
Stay on brand
Keep your communication professional and on brand. Treat your email communications as you would treat any of your marketing communication.
Provide options for a reply
Make it easy for people to reply to your email by providing them with a variety of contact options in your email signature. Some people would prefer to pick up the phone and have a conversation with you rather than spend time emailing back and forth.
Don’t be nasty
Never talk negatively or unprofessionally about other people in your emails. It’s very easy for your email to accidentally be forwarded to the wrong person!
If you think that your email content has the likelihood of being misconstrued, perhaps add an emoji into your text to clearly identify your sentiment.
Messenger app usage has been on a meteoric rise over the past couple of years.
Messenger apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Slack are being used for social group communication, sporting group coordination and of course as vital communication channels for business.
The advantage of Messenger apps is that you can send really short and succinct ‘text-like’ messages either to an individual or a group. There’s no need for the formality of an email, you can include attachments, easily use emojis and gifs. Plus you have the added convenience of being able to shoot messages off at any time of the day that you have your mobile phone at the ready.
And while Messenger apps afford more of a relaxed communication style, there are still some guidelines that will help to ensure that you use them effectively as a communication channel, particularly in business.
Don’t drink and message
We’ve all seen the consequences for people with a public profile who have tweeted under the influence. Just because Messenger apps are available at your fingertips and tend to foster a more relaxed conversation style, we don’t want to relax our standards too much. When you are enjoying an alcoholic beverage or two, put the phone away!
Be considerate of your recipient
You may be awake at 3am and ready to fire off some messages, but if your recipient has their phone in their bedroom and is fast asleep when your message notification dings, they may not be too impressed that you woke them up!
When it comes to Messenger app usage it pays to remember that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Virtual meeting software
The explosion of virtual meeting software usage such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams has transformed the way we can all do business. Geographical boundaries no longer exist. The only thing preventing us now from being truly global businesses are differences in international time zones.
One of the great advantages of virtual meeting software is that you can actually talk in real-time and see the face of the person that you are talking to. This means that less information is lost in translation and that you can read facial expressions and body language, to an extent, to form a more holistic impression of the person on the other side of the screen.
And while it is extremely levelling and somewhat refreshing to see people in their natural habitat as they Zoom in for a national Board meeting, there are still some best practice guidelines to follow to ensure that you are using these channels in a professional and courteous manner.
Show your face
One of the biggest advantages of using virtual meeting software is that you can actually sight the person who is talking or that you are talking to. It’s quite disconcerting when people don’t have their camera on, particularly in a more intimate-style meeting as one can only assume that they are not entirely present.
Mind your background
I’m a naturally curious person so I love noticing what’s going on in the background of the people I’m on a Zoom meeting with. So I notice if the room is messy or if your husband walks past in the background with no pants on! So think about what your colleagues are going to see before you switch on your camera. And if you want to obscure your background by using one of the digital Zoom screens, make sure that you don’t disappear into it. For those screens to be truly effective, it’s best to have a green screen or plain background with no light behind you.
Let there be light!
If you are showing up as a shadow on your Zoom calls, it may mean that your lighting is coming from behind and so your camera is responding to that and not shining a light on your face. You can purchase an inexpensive ring light that you can attach to your computer to shine a light on your face so that people in your meeting can your lovely face.
Whichever communication channel you choose to use, it’s important to remember that your communication counts. Use these channels wisely to ensure that your personal or business brand is not compromised in any way.
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