Today, it is just as easy to speak with a person on the other side of the world as it is to have a conversation with someone on the other side of the room.
Thanks to technology and the internet, the mediums through which a message can be sent are endless. Because of the wide array of options at our disposal, it is not always easy to know when you should send an email, call a meeting, or simply pick up the phone and call someone.
In the professional world, the medium you use to send your message is just as important as the message itself. Being able to determine which mode of communication is best for your message not only benefits your professionalism, but it also plays a role in driving overall business efficiency and productivity.
Which business tool is best to make sure your message is heard loud and clear?
Meetings are notoriously overused in the business world. Often, meetings are not carried out in an efficient way –driving down workplace productivity and morale. Additionally, meetings occur too frequently; it is not uncommon for individuals to call a meeting when an email would accomplish the same thing.
The important thing to remember is that, although valuable, meetings are time-consuming. The more people involved in that meeting, the fewer hours your team spends producing that day. Meetings inherently take away from tangible productivity, so it is important that meeting time is spent enhancing long-term productivity–for all parties in attendance.
As a rule of thumb, meetings should occur when input from multiple members of your team is needed and/or the topic of discussion is important enough to warrant immediate feedback and face-to-face interaction.
If you’re not sure if your topic meets this threshold, ask yourself if there will be actionable items or takeaways from the meeting. Do multiple people need to be made aware of these items? If this is the case, chances are a meeting is the best way to hold this discussion.
In the world of texting and emails, the traditional phone call is a little neglected. Even if it’s a quick question or huddle, a lot of information can be inferred from voice inflection and speech patterns that are lost when sending an email or instant message.
Phone calls are reserved for correspondence where a quick exchange of thoughts and ideas needs to occur. One-on-one calls and team huddles are a great example of this; real-time feedback is vital to the clarity of your message.
Similarly, if a message comes through email that demands a response with some detail, it’s often best to shift the conversation to a phone call.
Messages that are informational, non-urgent requests, or are used as a reference are best sent through the medium of email. Examples of this would be sending/requesting a file, cascading a message to the team, or recapping meeting notes.
If a response or feedback is needed from your message, it is not one that requires the recipient to respond immediately. After all, there is no guarantee your recipient will read your email the instant it enters their inbox.
In this way, emails are the most effective when cascading meeting summaries to a group; everyone knows the actionable items from the discussion, who is accountable for them, and the deadlines by which these tasks are to be completed.
Arguably the most essential part of the communication cycle is how well the recipient received your message. The medium of your message plays a giant role in this process.
Just in the same way you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail, you shouldn’t call a meeting to remind everyone about Jane’s anniversary party, or make a phone call to request a word document from your colleague.
Knowing the intent of your message and the response you are hoping to receive will strengthen the impact of your message, and allow you and your team to get the most out of their workday.