Communication is an integral component of any organization. Whether the purpose is to discuss goals in a formal meeting, update employees on new policies, or listen to feedback, communication is part of the everyday fabric of the modern workplace.
However, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned professional, effective communication is challenging for all of us—and remote work has made this challenge greater.
In a virtual setting, communication requires intentional effort, technology tools, and a different skill set than in-person communication. Miscommunication, misinterpretation, and lack of clarity are common problems in remote communication, leading to decreased productivity, low team morale, and other issues.
In this article, we’ll guide you through 5 proven ways to improve communication in your organization.
5 ways to improve communication in your organization
Establish your organization’s communication style
In an increasingly digital world, there’s a plethora of communication channels to choose from—email, phone, video conferencing, and a wide range of communication apps. Each mode of communication has its benefits and drawbacks.
Each communication style tends to have its own, distinct format, tone of voice, and usage depending on context. If these channels aren’t used in accordance with what they were created for, it can cause confusion and misunderstandings may occur. For instance, receiving the agenda for next week’s meeting in text form might be difficult to read, whereas receiving the same info via email would be easy to view.
Organizations can also go one step further by establishing clear guidelines and protocols to ensure no one violates company policies by communicating something inappropriate. This dissolves any ambiguity from the get-go and ensures everyone is on the same page when it comes to communicating within the workplace.
Communicate with purpose: Are you looking to inform, inspire, or invite a response?
Most people in senior positions make the mistake of communicating without intent at one time or another—this often looks like conveying messages for the sake of conveying messages. Managers are more concerned about whether these messages are received by the intended audience, and overlook whether they were well received by them.
Before hitting that “send” button, ask yourself what you’re trying to communicate and why. This is especially important for workers in leadership roles as they seek to manage their team well and fairly.
Ask yourself: what is the desired outcome of the communication exchange? It might be to:
- Offer your coworker new information
- Assign or delegate a task to a coworker
- Invite a coworker to offer feedback or their opinion
- Motivate others for the day ahead
Answering these questions can help you to understand whether you’re looking to inform, inspire, or invite a response. Using this knowledge, you can select the right communication channel, format, and tone to tailor your messages accordingly so that they’re received and understood as intended.
Listen first, speak second
We don’t listen to hear, but to respond.
Many people assume that getting better at communication is about becoming a better talker—instead, it's largely about becoming a better listener. Of course, it’s great to have a well-thought-out reply, but if your response doesn’t show that you listened and absorbed what was said, then it’s not likely to be effective.
With this in mind, it’s clear that better communication in the workplace begins with better listening. This can be as simple as paying closer attention when someone is talking to you and being sure to actively listen to their concerns or opinions. Be sure not to interrupt them while speaking—respond only when they’re done. And when you do respond, make sure to repeat what they said to show that you’ve heard and understood them.
By encouraging active listening, managers can demonstrate that they value employees’ opinions and perspectives. When people feel valued, this facilitates a more collaborative environment. Furthermore, active listening allows managers to avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions, and instead gain a more nuanced understanding of the issue at hand. Once they’ve gained a deeper understanding of the issue, they can then communicate their ideas and perspectives in a way that is more likely to be received positively.
Offer feedback in a clear, concise, and timely manner
Constructive feedback can help employees to grow and develop, both personally and professionally. By providing clear, actionable feedback, managers and colleagues can help employees to understand what they are doing well and where they can improve. This can lead to better performance, increased productivity, and a more positive work environment.
To get started with giving feedback in the workplace, employees should approach the conversation with a growth mindset and a focus on improvement. The feedback should be specific, actionable, and focused on behavior or results, rather than personality. For instance, instead of saying “I don’t like that”, say, “I don’t think this specific line of code meets the client's requirements, and here’s why. Maybe you could try this instead?” See the difference?
It is also important to balance the feedback by highlighting both strengths and areas for improvement. The feedback should be delivered promptly and in a way that is respectful. By giving constructive feedback, employees can foster a culture of continuous improvement, and help their colleagues to reach their full potential.
Select communication tools with care
The right tools can facilitate efficient communication and streamline workflows, while outdated or inadequate technology can hinder productivity and lead to frustration among employees. By leveraging the right technology, teams can communicate more effectively, share information more efficiently, and ultimately achieve better results.
For instance, Slack, a popular messaging application for businesses, is a tool that can be used to improve communication in the workplace. This app can act as your digital HQ, including organized spaces to connect departments, offices, time zones, and even other companies. With your other work apps connected to Slack, you can work faster by switching tabs less. And with powerful tools like Workflow Builder, you can automate away routine tasks.
Then there’s Zoom, a video conferencing platform that allows users to connect via video, audio, phone, and chat. Managers can use Zoom to connect with their teams who can be scattered across multiple locations in the comfort of their homes. Zoom’s new features such as polls, breakout rooms, and online whiteboards are great ways to facilitate collaboration even in remote settings.
However, a major problem when it comes to video conferencing is maintaining eye contact—especially when you have to constantly look at your notes when delivering a speech. Should you look at the camera? Or should you look at the video screen? What about the notes? It can be more than a little unnerving.
This is when state-of-the-art virtual teleprompter apps like VODIUM come to the rescue! The notes sit atop the video screen just behind the camera so when you’re reading them, you’re effectively looking at the audience. But wait—if the notes sit on top of the video screen, doesn’t it mean that the face of the listener is covered? No!
VODIUM’s in-built transparency tool allows users to adjust the visibility of their notes so that they see both the audience and the notes. The sweet spot is when the notes are just opaque enough to be readable and just translucent enough to see through. Wait—it gets better! Users can also set their notes to automatically scroll as they speak, controlling the speed T so that the notes sync with their speech.
Harnessing the power of these tools can help speakers to speak with confidence, maintain eye contact, and read non-verbal cues even in remote settings.
Looking for a tool to improve communication in the workplace? Meet VODIUM
Communication is the lifeblood of every organization—without it, an organization simply can’t function. Seeking to improve communication skills is difficult, and attempting to do the same in virtual settings is even more so.
However, the right tools can help business leaders reach this goal much more effectively, and a virtual teleprompter is a great way to start. Come by our website to see what VODIUM can do for you and to start your free teleprompter trial today!