10 effective business communication strategies

Every professional needs strong communication skills. Whether you’re an entry-level employee negotiating your salary or a seasoned project manager leading a major project meeting, the ability to clearly communicate the right information is one of the most essential skills in your toolbox.

Very few people consider themselves naturally gifted communicators. However, those who do know that this skill takes years of dedicated practice to develop. Studying the most effective business communication strategies can streamline those years of practice and help your career skyrocket.

Not sure where to begin? This guide will give you the insight you need on your journey to becoming a stronger business communicator. You’ll find 10 helpful strategies for creating a strong business communication style that will benefit you no matter your field or position.

What are effective business communication strategies?

There are two different types of business communication strategy:

  1. corporate communication strategy
  2. personal communication strategy

Both types are vital for any organization. As a business professional, you should have a solid understanding of both.

Corporate communication guidelines

These guidelines appear in a document, policy or playbook about corporate communication. They detail internal communication norms, customer-facing communication requirements, the company’s “voice” and how to handle workplace conflict.

Corporate communication strategies can cover:

  • active listening,
  • how you use instant messenger tools,
  • your approach to proactive vs. reactive communication tactics,
  • sharing information appropriately, and
  • the personality and tone of your written and verbal communications.

Personal communication strategies

Personal communication strategies are the tactics, intentional habits and applications of communication skills that you set for yourself as a professional. Yours, for example, might detail how to send positive or negative emails, ask questions, send reminders and present to audiences.

These strategies are highly individualized. They depend on your current role and ideal future roles. By refining your personal communication strategy, you can make your interactions substantially more successful. This can improve your career trajectory.

Get started by thoroughly assessing your current communication style. This self-assessment will provide insight into your strengths and areas to improve. It will also allow you to identify effective business communication strategies to incorporate into your own communication habits.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you introverted or isolated?
  • Do you tend to talk over coworkers?
  • Do you verify that others understand your messages, or do you assume that your messages make sense?

This self-evaluation alone can begin to orient you toward the most effective communication strategies to prioritize.

Benefits of effective business communication strategies

You’ve likely had a great communicator as a manager or coworker before, and you’re just as likely to have had a terrible one. Think back to both of those experiences and try to remember the positives and negatives of both environments.

The benefits of working with a great communicator are clear:

  • You know their expectations.
  • You’re confident about the workflow and each of the work tasks.
  • You know where to go for more information or help.

Consider how great communicators in other roles can affect the workplace. Concise, clear communications from managers make work management and teamwork easier. Executives with great communication strategies give the company (and external stakeholders) more confidence. Also, well-spoken customer service reps can improve customer satisfaction.

Effective business communication strategies offer several significant benefits to organizations, such as:

  • more innovation and engagement across the organization,
  • greater productivity,
  • fewer bottlenecks and delays,
  • better team morale, with fewer conflicts and misunderstandings,
  • higher overall employee satisfaction,
  • better brand reputation and customer engagement, and
  • stronger public reputation among investors and other stakeholders.

Of course, becoming a strong communicator in your own right can greatly benefit your career. You can communicate your value, develop positive workplace relationships with coworkers, take on visible roles in team-based projects and create an excellent first impression.

However, it’s equally important to recognize the negative impact of poor communication on business performance.

The impact of poor communication on business performance

Now think back to when you worked with a poor communicator. We’re guessing the following sounds familiar:

  • Nothing ever feels completely certain.
  • Work expectations or specific workflows change from day to day.
  • You might always feel like you’re missing a crucial part of the story.
  • Everyone on the team has a slightly different understanding of the facts.
  • There’s nowhere to go for clear answers (unless the bad communicator shares the role with another, more professional communicator).

Poor communication has clear negative effects on business performance. Day-to-day uncertainty and frustration are just two examples. Your company might also experience:

  • lost productivity due to hours spent searching for information,
  • more interpersonal conflicts leading to lower employee morale and higher turnover,
  • delayed work, leading to costly missed deadlines and work stacking up,
  • lower confidence in managers and other leaders, and
  • customer confusion and frustration, likely leading to customer churn.

10 effective business communication strategies

The benefits of improving your business communication strategies are clear, both for individuals and as part of company-wide initiatives. However, knowing you want to be a better communicator doesn’t automatically translate to being more clear or engaging. Instead, it takes a diligent approach to practicing multiple business communication strategies.

Consider which of these 10 strategies will benefit you most based on your role or the weaknesses you perceive in your current communication style. To begin with, focus on just one or a handful of strategies. You can continually adopt new ones over time.

1. Create clear communication channels

Whenever possible, create clear and well-established communication channels.

Your choices will depend on the nature of your business. For example, you might decide that you and your team should primarily communicate through email. You might also consider whether to use text or an instant messenger like Slack and determine which types of communications warrant phone calls or in-person meetings.

Establishing these clear channels of communication sets expectations around where and how people can find answers.

You can also establish norms surrounding when you use these channels. One approach is to create clear and detailed out-of-office messages. Another is to tell your team when you will check emails and messages throughout the day. This is especially helpful for those who practice time-blocking.

2. Proactively communicate expectations and provide resources

The best communication strategies are proactive.

Many of your most frequently recurring communication issues will center around tasks. For example, there may be back-and-forth communications, questions and uncertainty surrounding:

  • expectations for specific tasks,
  • how to navigate knowledge resources or company drives,
  • specific workflow processes (especially if they’re complex), and
  • new hire norms and expectations.

Stay ahead of the issue. Don’t wait for questions to arise or, even worse, to receive work that employees haven’t completed correctly. Provide ongoing training sessions for learning and review, ensuring that team members clearly understand expectations and processes.

Additionally, create a knowledge base containing frequently asked questions (FAQs), video tutorials and templates. This will enable coworkers to independently find the answers they need.

3. Seek feedback and encourage open communication

You might not always realize when your communication style is falling short. This is a common challenge when explaining information you already know and understand. It makes sense to you, meaning you won’t always recognize when someone else lacks sufficient information.

To overcome this common pitfall, actively seek feedback and encourage open communication. This can involve the following:

  • directly asking your audience if they have any questions or if anything is unclear
  • asking peers to observe a presentation or meeting and provide constructive feedback afterward
  • maintaining an open-door policy that encourages your team or coworkers to ask questions, clarify information and offer constructive criticism
  • scheduling retrospective meetings (or retros) to identify and learn from past communication challenges

4. Prioritize accessibility of information across multiple channels

Accessibility is a vital aspect of effective communication.

You should deliberately incorporate stringent accessibility standards into all of your communication habits. Taking these steps now can help others adopt more accessible communication norms, so leaders across the organization should follow suit.

An example of this strategy in practice is using online communication tools with support settings for coworkers with visual impairments. Another is ensuring that all video conferences have captions.

To make accessibility a priority, you’ll need the appropriate software and tools. As a result, implementing some of these measures may require organization-wide buy-in.

However, you can also take individual steps to promote accessibility. These might include:

  • encouraging employees to respond to emails at a time that suits them based on their time zone or working hours,
  • accommodating the preferred communication channels of different staff members, and
  • ensuring that business-critical information is widely available in various formats.

5. Observe how other professionals communicate

One of the most effective ways to enhance your own communication style is to draw inspiration from the people around you.

Pay close attention to how coworkers and higher-level leaders throughout your organization communicate. Analyze their speaking style, how they explain information and their approach to personalizing messaging or actively listening.

Take note of specific tactics or overarching approaches you admire. You can then incorporate them into your daily communications.

You can also learn from negative examples. If you notice a coworker who struggles with communication or whose messages are often poorly received, identify the factors that may be causing the miscommunications or disengagement. Then, make a conscious effort to avoid those same pitfalls in your own communication.

6. Focus the conversation on the issue, not on specific people

In the workplace, a significant portion of communication revolves around interpersonal dynamics and conflict resolution. Situations may arise where someone misses a deadline, fails to provide necessary information or acts inconsiderately.

These occurrences are common in any work environment. However, it can still be tempting to blame the individual and express your frustration directly.

Instead, try to take a step back. Focus on the issue at hand rather than the person or their character. Address what went wrong and discuss the steps they can take to prevent similar incidents in the future.

If the situation truly appears to be a personnel issue, communicate your concerns to the human resources (HR) department.

7. Create an environment that encourages people to ask questions

Even the most effective communication style may not completely eliminate confusion and uncertainty. Therefore, fostering an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions is crucial. You can use two main approaches to achieve this:

  1. Actively ask questions yourself. These can include clarifying questions that expand the conversation or relevant hypothetical scenarios. You should aim to set a precedent and normalize the act of asking questions. This invites others to do the same when they need further information or clarification.
  2. Respond positively to questions directed at you. Make it clear that you welcome and appreciate people asking questions. You don’t want to make them feel like they are wasting time or that they shouldn’t have any questions. Intentionally allocate time for questions during meetings and ensure everyone receives constructive and helpful answers.

8. Be concise

Short, efficient communications are most effective. Here are some pointers:

  • When explaining how to do something, provide a basic overview and a clear set of steps. If there are exceptions or alternatives, make those a separate conversation or training module.
  • Keep your emails brief and to the point.
  • During meetings, create an outline and adhere to the structure.

By adopting a concise communication style, you avoid long-winded, confusing or indirect answers. This helps people feel more certain and confident about the information you’re providing.

9. Create a paper trail

While this strategy may sound more administrative than engaging, one of the most effective approaches to workplace communication is to always leave a record.

Here are some examples of steps you might take:

  • If you have a conference or digital meeting, record the session and make it available to participants.
  • Aim to share important dates, deadlines and instructions through written communication, such as an email or an instant message, with everyone tagged.
  • If you do share news in person or through an informal communication channel, follow it up with a written summary. This ensures that everyone can refer back to the information, significantly reducing the potential for confusion.

10. Incorporate storytelling

Actively incorporate storytelling elements into your communications. Use narrative examples, transform statistics and processes into captivating stories and personalize the information you want people to feel and remember.

Injecting more voice and substance into your communications makes them more engaging and memorable. As a result, you can convey information more effectively and ensure your audiences retain the core message of every interaction.

Build your communication style by practicing these effective business communication strategies

Every professional should build their own voice and communication habits through a combination of different strategies. No one business communication strategy is the most effective.

However, there is one thing every professional should do, and that’s practice. You can’t build your communication skills through theory alone. Instead, evolve your style by interweaving new tactics and practices into your day-to-day communications.

No matter your role – leader, strategist, marketer or educator – you can develop effective business communication skills with the help of Pip Decks. Upgrade your team communications with the Pip Decks Team Tactics Card Deck. Or, you might use the Storyteller Tactics Deck to help you tell engaging stories that will make your communications captivating and memorable.

Pip Decks are decades of experience distilled into practical toolkits that help you confidently thrive in your business or career. Learn more here!

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