While communicating with external clients or vendors may seem like a priority for businesses, internal communication is just as important as it increases team productivity and keeps everybody within the organization on the same page. Scheduling, reiterating goals and all other internal messages rely on the use of communication channels.
What are communication channels?
Communication channels are the instruments people use to share information. Understanding communication channels and using them correctly are crucial to the success of a business.
Whether it be to collaborate on a project or to alert the office that the milk is spoiled, these channels of communication are in constant use.
Types of communication channels
Some communication channels are often overlooked. Not many people consider leaning over to your office mate to ask what time a meeting starts or leaving a note that the dishwasher is clean as using a communication channel. But it is! Any time information is exchanged between people, a type of communication channel is used. Period.
There are two main types of communication channels: written and oral. Each channel category includes multiple means of communication, both on and offline.
Whether it be an email that contains essential information about a new client, or a flier posted in the lunch room about a coworker’s birthday party, the message finds its way to the intended audience. Here are some examples of written communication channels and when to use them.
The range of uses for email communication is broad. They can be used to schedule a meeting, share a file, or contact someone who is typically hard to reach over the phone, such as a client in a different time zone.
The spectrum of formality in emails is also large. Sending an email to a colleague you connect with multiple times a day might be short, sweet and informal. On the other hand, reaching out to your boss to set up salary negotiations might take on a more formal tone.
Email is convenient, but be careful with it. When using this communication channel, make sure the topic is appropriate to discuss online. Some topics, such as hiring or firing decisions, might be better to discuss in person.
Communication tips for any channel
There are a lot of different ways to communicate, but no matter which one you use, use these etiquette tips to be heard -- without being offensive.
Memos act as a “Heads up!” or “Don’t forget!” kind of message that addresses an entire group. Replying is not necessary, but recipients still have the ability to ask questions. Memos come in handy if a new policy or procedure is instated and the whole office is affected. They can be sent electronically or printed and posted in a communal area as daily reminders.
Instant messaging software
Coworkers can use instant messaging software for immediate communication. Less formal than an email, these messages usually get right to the point and do not include a formal greeting or salutation. Users can create groups based on topics, share files, and pin important pieces of a conversation to refer back to at a later time. The use of gifs and emojis leaves room for this type of communication channel to be fun, animated and informal.
Arguably the best thing about written communication channels is they can be referred back to when needed and the information is still directly from the source. So if the title of that new client slips your mind or if you can’t remember the time the birthday soiree starts, don’t fret! Pull up that email from your inbox or stroll on over to the lunch room to take a second look.
Oral communication channels
Oral communication channels are the most effective way to have a two-sided conversation. If feedback, questions and clarifications are inevitable, oral, or sometimes called verbal communication, might be the best bet. Here are a couple of different types of oral communication channels.
Meeting in person will never go out of style. Nonverbal communication cues, like gestures and body language, are best understood while meeting face to face. In-person meetings are good for discussing sensitive topics that will result in a two-way conversation.
Communicating with a colleague over the phone is another effective oral communication channel. While gestures and facial expressions cannot be seen, the intended tone can still be easily recognized. An effective phone conversation can be as quick as answering the phone, responding to or answering a question, and hanging up.
Video conferencing software
Thanks to the Internet and communication technology, people no longer have to be physically together to have a similar experience as a face to face meeting. Video conferencing software allows multiple users to “attend a meeting.” The topics discussed over this software can be the same as ones talked about in person. It just provides users with another option if being in the same place at the same time isn’t possible.
Oral communication channels provide coworkers with a personal touch that can’t be felt when messages are written. Technology may be convenient, but nothing beats interacting with a smiling face or a friendly voice!
Let’s get communicating!
The use of effective communication channels is crucial to the success of a business. Once your business' written and oral channel skills are mastered, your internal communications should be going steady.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)