If a message is not conveyed effectively, it can cause confusion, misunderstanding, or dissatisfaction. In the context of business communications, a worst-case scenario can result in significant financial losses.
So what makes business communication effective, and what will it take to improve the efficacy of your own business’ communications strategy? There are five key elements of effective business communication that are not only crucial to maintaining workflow, but also save millions of dollars every year when implemented.
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What makes business communication effective? Five key elements to focus on
Before breaking down how to make business communication more effective, let’s discuss the factors that determine efficacy:
- Clarity: How clearly are you conveying your point?
- Conciseness: How concisely are you making your point?
- Propriety: How appropriate are your language and tone?
- Credibility: How authoritative and trustworthy are your communications?
- Engagement: How interesting do your recipients find your message?
Now here’s a closer look at each of these factors—and recommendations for how you and your team can improve each.
Precise spelling, grammar, diction, and structure are critical to crafting a clear and convincing message. Avoiding jargon is also important when communicating with an audience that may be unfamiliar with certain industry terms.
The best way to improve clarity in written communication is to proofread before sharing with the intended audience. Because it can be difficult to spot mistakes immediately after drafting, it is best to wait a day or so before reviewing a document, if possible. Asking someone else to take a look can also be helpful. However, given that most written business communication typically centers around quick emails and memos, rereading the message immediately after it’s written may be the only option.
- Pro tip: Freelance proofreading services can be helpful here. Alternatively, a digital proofreading tool can automatically identify potential mistakes, making it easy for team members to recognize opportunities for improvement. Grammarly uses AI to analyze and provide suggestions for spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and more to ensure your writing is readable, clear, and concise.
Keeping communication straightforward and avoiding unnecessary repetition is not only effective but also efficient. It saves reading and interpreting time on both sides and minimizes the possibility of a misunderstanding.
To improve conciseness in written communication, check documents for long sentences and paragraphs that may need some trimming or restructuring. Look for any content that does not directly relate to or support the main purpose of your message—this is usually better to cut than to keep.
- Pro tip: Virtual writing assistants can quickly identify opportunities to condense or cut lengthy sentences and paragraphs.
For maximum effect, you should always carefully tailor a message to both the situation and intended audience. But universally, business communication should be polite and respectful. Identifying and using a carefully cultivated tone is important in establishing your business’ personality.
Before drafting, it can be helpful to thoroughly consider (and perhaps even write out) who your audience is and what they expect from you. After drafting, try reading your work out loud if you can—this can make it easier to hear whether the tone you’ve used is appropriate for the audience you’re writing to.
- Pro tip: It can be difficult to recognize the perceived tone of a piece as opposed to the intended tone. Time may also be a factor in determining how long you have to make these observations. Aligning the two is much easier with the help of an AI-powered tone detector like Grammarly’s, which can quickly analyze the tone of a message and provide suggestions for optimization.
Establishing your company as a credible source encourages business loyalty and promotes a positive public image. Consistent messages and experiences from a brand are key to building trust with customers.
The best way to maintain consistency—and credibility—is to ensure all team members are on the same page concerning both the brand’s identity and also individual customer interactions. If a customer is transferred from one customer service representative to another, for example, they expect the information they shared with the first representative to automatically have been shared with the second for a smooth transition.
- Pro tip: Be sure to use a CRM platform that tracks all customer interactions and organizes vital customer data in one central, easily accessible place. The easier it is for team members to quickly share and retrieve pertinent information, the better.
Ensure that your message is compelling—it’s critical to closing deals, motivating employees, and converting potential customers. Strive to position your business as being not only credible but also relevant. This means your message should be crafted with the goal of incorporating an effective balance of all the above strategies, conveying what’s most important to your company while also speaking to what your target audience is most interested in hearing about.
If your company doesn’t have one already, creating and sharing an internal style guide can help employees align the tone and approach of their messaging to your brand identity as well as your target audience’s preferences.
- Pro tip: Digital communications assistant tools like Grammarly can review documents according to a personalized company style guide. This will make it easy for your team members to align their tone and their message with your brand.
While improving in any one of these areas would be beneficial, communications solutions that can address all of these factors at once will offer the greatest advantage. User-friendly, comprehensive tools like Grammarly Business can be easily integrated with your chosen communications platforms.
An all-in-one solution like this is more time-effective—both in terms of setup and daily usage—than attempting to implement and integrate separate solutions at once. It is also more cost-effective than purchasing licenses or subscriptions for an array of singularly focused tools.
As any business leader knows, implementing an operational change and/or improvement typically incurs some sort of cost. But when it comes to business communication, the cost of not investing in the right tools and learning opportunities can be far greater.
The cost of ineffective business communication
As many as 86% of executives and employees point to ineffective communication and collaboration as the main causes of workplace failures. Poor communication costs companies of around 100 employees about $420,000 per year, while large enterprises of 100,000 employees or more can expect to lose an average of $62.4 million per year.
Poor internal communication can:
- Strain interpersonal relationships between team members, negatively impacting collaboration.
- Cause misunderstandings regarding roles, responsibilities, or priorities, which can lead to interrupted workflows, missed deadlines, poorly executed projects, and other costly oversights.
- Erode company culture and employee satisfaction, which can result in higher turnover and negative feedback on employer review sites.
Poor external communication with other businesses and customers can:
- Lower contract renewal rates and opportunities for upsells and collaboration (for B2B businesses).
- Result in unhappy customers and clients, who will then be far more likely to take their business elsewhere.
- Set unintended and potentially unrealistic expectations, which can lead to disappointed customers and clients whose negative feedback may negatively impact growth, renewal rates, and revenue.
- Deteriorate the public’s perception of your brand, possibly presenting your company as unprofessional, unreliable, or (in a worst-case scenario) unethical.
Effective communication, on the other hand, has the power to accomplish business objectives and goals while avoiding costly mistakes. Something as simple as clarifying an employee’s role and responsibilities within the larger context of company goals, for example, can improve performance by up to 10%, boosting overall operational coordination as well as employee satisfaction.
The impact of improved business communication
Providing access to multifaceted business communication tools will allow your team members to make immediate improvements to their communications while still having the ability to continually learn and refine their techniques on their own time. Just a few of the benefits of improved business communication include:
- Increasing productivity by up to 25%
- Increasing employee engagement, which can raise annual income by up to 19%
- Increasing returns to shareholders by up to 47%
- Decreasing the likelihood of high turnover rates by 50%
Keep in mind that the quality of your team’s tools will impact how quickly—and how effectively—your team will improve. The right communication solution can increase the quality of written communication by as much as 72% in just six months
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for your team, however, is to lead by example. Be open and willing to consistently evaluate ways in which you can refine your own approach to communication, keeping in mind that there is always room for improvement.
Grammarly Business is a comprehensive digital communications assistant that includes an array of helpful features specifically designed to make business communication more effective. Contact us to learn more and get Grammarly Business for your team today.