In the current digital age, it is easy to misunderstand intentions, misread the message, or lose information while communicating solely through email, text, and video conferencing. These miscommunications make business difficult, especially when it comes to board communication.
With businesses transitioning to virtual offices and spaces, the way communication is executed and expressed has had to adapt and adjust itself in order to be concise, clear, and professional.
Best Practices for Effective Virtual Communications
Virtual communication and face-to-face communication present unique challenges and advantages. Tone, expression, and vocal inflection are not as easy to process, comprehend and read via virtual communication; whereas face-to-face these natural and instinctive tendencies are not given a second thought.
The way we communicate in person does not often work well nor translate well when utilizing virtual programs to speak. Having recognized these challenges, there are several simple changes you can make in your processes to improve communication.
First, create a communication schedule. Set up the expectation at the beginning of the week, the beginning of the month, or according to some other designated schedule. Be clear and to-the-point in what you expect. This process will eliminate problems with missed emails, or missed messages. Be consistent with the timing and be consistent with the platform used to communicate on, such as using Microsoft Teams, Slack, or one of the other programs which are used for communicating upcoming or current agendas, lists, requirements, processes, and tasks.
Encourage team members to communicate actively, direct them to ask questions to clarify objectives when they are uncertain, affirm efforts, offer feedback, and encourage status reports and goals. Make sure that your team members are clear on their roles and your expectations for clear virtual communication.
Before and during team meetings be sure to have an agenda that outlines the topics and actions which are to be discussed to keep all members on the same page and on the same topic. Prior to team meetings, be sure everyone is aware of who is leading the discussion as well as note which individuals are expected to speak and what topic they are to discuss.
During team meetings, it is good practice to acknowledge team members for their contributions to the organization. Showing appreciation for those who have given their time and talents to progress the organization is essential even when communicating remotely.
Upon conclusion of a team meeting, provide members with an electronic recap At the end of meetings to ensure that everyone has the same takeaway.
Communication etiquette is important. The level of professionalism is based upon the introduction and formality of your greeting, the content, and body of your message, as well as sentence structure, grammar, articulation, and verbiage.
Avoid using terms such as 'it's', 'they're', 'don't', 'isn't', this looks lazy and unprofessional when communicating with clients or fellow team members. Use proper verbiage such as, 'It is', 'they are', 'do not', 'is not', etc, this differentiates the professional from the novice.
In addition, be prompt to respond. A typical mistake is to put off or delay communication. If you do not have time to devote your full attention, or you are unable to answer at the moment, it is good practice to still send a brief response communicating that you will reply when you have time or a proper answer.
Be on time. If you commit yourself to an appointment or meeting, arrive early. If you are holding a staff meeting, encourage the team members to log in 15 minutes prior to socialize and chit-chat. Once the meeting begins, the host should assume a professional tone and demeanor. Conclude your appointments or meetings with a Q & A session. Finally, conclude your appointment or meeting with a friendly, positive, or relaxed farewell.
During appointments or meetings, be direct and to the point; encourage clear communication, concise points, and direct verbiage. Have an agenda or list of topics to keep everyone on track and on the same page. Be alert to those who seem to be zoning out, drifting, or monopolizing the conversation. Facilitating virtual communications requires the meeting leader to be extra attentive, intentionally empathetic, and to give everyone a little space and a little grace.
There are several virtual programs and software available, such as Zoom, GoTo Meeting, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc. There are pros and cons to these various programs, such as cost, security, meeting notes in real-time, time restrictions, call clarity, video clarity, and the software's technology.
To maximize the virtual meetings for your team members, ensure that they have a good headset such as the type that cancels out background noise. Also, verify that each team member has a designated space or area where they may effectively be present and attentive during virtual meetings. For clients, offer programs that are both mobile and computer friendly, as well as easy to utilize. Additionally, offer secure links for team members and clients to pass sensitive information, such as sharefile, or Citrix.
In conclusion, keeping the above information and tips in mind, you have a platform for developing a well-rounded, efficient, and effective communications team and strategy.
All information sourced from boardeffect.com and Lena Eisenstein