Practices in Business Communication
Communicating effectively can be the difference between the success and failure of any business endeavor. Effective business communication involves time-honored practices and customs you can easily learn. These business communications best practices remain as relevant now as they were in the past. These best practices also apply to any form of business communication you choose to employ; whether it is a print brochure or an online website.
Be Clear and Concise
The most important business communication practice is to be clear with your message. Too often, business communicators load their messages with jargon and technical terms the intended audience cannot understand. Don’t be vague. Use concrete terms and be specific. You should use clear, easily understood words. Avoid industry-specific terms and acronyms unless they are common knowledge to your audience. Err on the side of caution, however; don’t assume you know what your audience will understand.
Focus on Audience
Effective business communication practices target a specific audience. Communicators should always ask “Who is my audience?” What is their level of knowledge about what you are presenting? What are their needs and values? Knowing the answers to these questions can help focus your message. Business communication author Ken O’Quinn, writing for the International Association of Business Communicators, says you should frame your appeal in a way that makes it relevant to your audience. Your ideas need to be in their realm of experience, he writes.
Don’t Sell Features. Sell Benefits
Whether you are writing an internal memo or a sales brochure, your business communications should focus on value. A best practice is to sell benefits–how your idea or product will improve the lives of your internal and external customers. Selling benefits will grab attention and sustain interest far more than simply selling the features or physical attributes of a product or service. In an International Association of Business Communicators article, writing coach Daphne Gray-Grant says selling features is dull. Selling benefits generates excitement, she says, and leads to business communication with high impact.
Use Multiple Channels
Peter Lowy of the Business Communications Strategies group, Brookline, Mass., writes that you cannot afford to deliver your message using only one medium. The proliferation of media offers people numerous choices for consuming information. People have their preferences, and they process information at different times, Lowy says. In addition, for your communications practices to be effective, you should optimize your message for each medium. For example, a message delivered through a website will typically be shorter and more to-the-point than the same message in a print newsletter article.