When you sit down at your desk in the morning, what items fill your to-do list? No matter what industry you’re in, at least part of the day involves digital communication. Since working from home has become even more common, we are constantly replying to emails and instant messages, joining conference calls, and turning our cameras on for Zoom.
Make no mistake: excellent digital communication is essential in today’s hybrid work environment. How can you keep miscommunication from derailing your team? Let’s take a closer look at two of the most common digital communication methods: email and virtual meetings.
Send Better Emails
When we’re trying to communicate to others, especially in a hybrid work environment, we tend to send more emails, and more detailed emails, than ever before. But this can lead to conflict and miscommunication.
You’ve experienced this before—someone focuses on one comment you made in an email and misses the bigger picture. Or they take offense to a statement that you intended to be simply matter-of-fact. We are creating scenarios that are not true or not intended because we’ve put our own spin on the communication.
Furthermore, continually relying on email can cause a loss of conversation between team members. We no longer make space for real-time, spoken communication because email is “easier.” But just because an email seems easier does not mean it’s the most effective method.
Here’s two guidelines to send better emails:
- If there’s a lot to communicate or you are communicating a significant change, you must schedule a time for a meeting. Don’t try to send it electronically.
- If you are sending emails and getting questions back, pick up the phone and call them after the third email exchange. Don’t wait to clarify over email, be proactive and talk it through.
Attend Better Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings are not going away anytime soon, and in fact are an invaluable tool in the hybrid work environment. But we all know that “Zoom fatigue” can set in, and it’s easy for team members to become exhausted by meetings, more reserved on camera, or unfairly dominate a video conversation.
Here are a few practical tips for virtual meetings:
- Remember to pause. Add frequent breaks between your messages to give your listeners a chance to respond. If needed, leave the conversation open-ended and come back to it at a later meeting.
- Actively invite others to speak. Make it clear that you encourage different viewpoints, and wait long enough for people to have a chance to respond.
- Read body language. Encourage everyone to turn their video camera on so that you can pay attention to each person. Watch for signs of distraction, fatigue, or confusion that mean you need to revise your message.
Digital communication over email and virtual meetings can make or break your team. Consider bringing our Effective Communications program in house for up to 30 participants. Or attend a public Speak Up & Be Effective™ session for practical tips to craft and deliver messages that are clear, concise, and focused.