In business, you spend most of your time communicating. Either with employees, customers, or business partners. Whether in meetings, phone calls, emails, video calls, or text messages. In this article, we will discuss the key goals of business communication and how best to achieve them. When it is best to have small meetings versus presenting to a large group.
The most common reason given for having meetings is to make a decision. Often it can be difficult to pin people down and be sure you have an agreement. In extreme cases, you might even put something to a vote. A good practice is to book a meeting with an agenda saying that you will make a decision. Then after making the decision send a follow-up email confirming everything agreed to. This gives you some backup when someone later claims not to have agreed to a decision.
The other common task which usually needs a face-to-face meeting is planning. Whether planning the week or the year, there’s always some back and forth about what is possible. Often paired with a quick review of what was recently completed. Agile prefers reviews and ‘retrospectives’ to be separate activities. Unfortunately, that does add to the number of meetings you need.
Training and Education
Recently training has seen a move to a more online asynchronous setting. But it isn’t that uncommon to still come together for some of these events. Training could be for a specific new skill or more general like compliance or purchasing. As well as occasional mandated training required by law.
Provide Feedback and Mentoring
Regular feedback is one of the most requested forms of communication from managers. Annual reviews are a common form of official feedback. But employees generally would like more frequent discussions. Feedback is usually face-to-face particularly if it is negative. Quick instant messages to say “good job” can be effective. But they do suffer from confusion about whether the lack of a message implies a less good job. A regular one-to-one meeting is best.
To Inspire and Motivate
Great leaders are often shown giving inspiring speeches. But those kinds of leaders and speeches are rare enough that if this is your aim you’ve already lost the battle. A more useful tactic is to get the CEO or very senior manager to give a brief message of support. It’s surprising how often senior leadership glosses over the projects in progress. Only talking about company results and key metrics.
To Exchange Information
Sometimes all we are doing is providing a channel to ask and answer questions. Maybe an employee is moving on and you need to do some knowledge transfer. Or you try and talk to a client who has some issues they want solving. This is best done as a series of meetings with time between to digest and come up with new questions.
To Solve a Problem
“War rooming” problems has recently become very popular. Possibly due to the rise of asynchronous communication taking a long time to address some issues. A good way to do this is having everyone needed to fix a problem on a video call all day. It can be quite exhausting so shouldn’t be common. Having many teams involved can also lead to conflict in this high-pressure situation. So use in moderation.
Sometimes we get together to celebrate the completion of a project. Offsite can be best to stress that this is different from regular meetings.