The Evolution of Business Communication
Written by: Hilbert College • May 10, 2023
The Evolution of Business Communication ¶
Business communication is in constant flux. As technology evolves and workplaces become more globalized, communication methods and best practices must continuously adapt to meet the changing needs of businesses and its stakeholders.
To adapt effectively, business leaders must make clear decisions about how to use new communication tools and which communication initiatives to prioritize. They must also be aware of current trends and understand where business communication is headed. It is essential to thoroughly understand the nuances and aspects of business communication, including its types, methods and best practices.
What Is Business Communication and Why Is It Important? ¶
Business communication is a two-way process: It requires both speaking and listening skills, as well as both writing and reading skills. Moreover, it involves both internal and external audiences. Business leaders must understand the needs of transmitting information within their organization, as well as beyond it.
Business communication is essential for conveying clear messaging about the business or organization. It involves setting the right tone, using precise language and being succinct to ensure a message is understood. Topics of discussion can include anything from business strategy and presentation notes, to marketing content creation and project planning. Effective communication impacts every level of a workplace. For example, effective communication techniques can reduce misunderstandings and conflicts, foster a positive work culture and promote innovation.
Effective business communication is necessary for building and maintaining relationships with clients, stakeholders and employees. It can even eliminate misinformation, which can lead to missed opportunities and loss of revenue.
Business Communication Audiences ¶
The audiences involved in business communication can be internal or external. Internal audiences can include employees and stakeholders within the organization. External audiences may consist of customers, suppliers and investors.
The messaging in a business communication should be specific to an audience. For example, an email intended for employees may confuse consumers. In another example, a presentation meant for technical individuals may be a waste of time to busy executives.
Internal Business Communication ¶
Internal business communications is primarily focused on individuals working within an organization. It can involve holding meetings, exchanging email messages, or collaborating on projects using digital platforms such as Slack. For business leaders, it is important to understand the role of communication in motivating employees to be engaged and positioning them for success. Low engagement can impact a business’s bottom line: according to Gallup, employee disengagement costs the global economy trillions of dollars a year.
External Business Communication ¶
External business communication describes activities to reach audiences outside of the business. Audiences can include customers, the news media and potential business partners. The primary aim is to share information about the business and its products/services. Messages can be informational or promotional. For example, communicating data about finances may attract potential investors. Marketing communications promote a brand, helping increase recognition and engage new customers. These messages can be shared via press releases, newsletters, direct mailings, social media, and many other communication channels.
Methods of Business Communication ¶
The two primary methods of business communication are synchronous and asynchronous. Understanding the difference between the two, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each, can help determine which communication method to use.
Synchronous Communication ¶
Synchronous communication describes the real-time exchange of messages. It requires individuals and parties to be part of a conversation at the same time. It may also mean being at the same physical location, like in a face-to-face meeting.
Examples of synchronous communication include phone calls, video conferences, instant messaging, and face-to-face conversations. It is particularly beneficial in time-sensitive situations, emergencies and when conveying complex information. Synchronous communication helps prevent misunderstandings and facilitates faster decision making.
A key drawback is that synchronous communication can be time-consuming, interfering with other work. This is especially true of long meetings or conference calls. Another drawback is the difficulty in finding a time when everyone is available to meet. This can be especially difficult when different time zones are involved.
Asynchronous Communication ¶
Asynchronous communication enables information to be exchanged at any time. Participants using this form of communication can send information and respond at any time. Examples include emails; online forums and collaborative documents; as well as communications like letters, written articles, videos and even advertising.
As applied to business processes, asynchronous communication is beneficial for teams located across different time zones. Individuals with different schedules or priorities can also communicate according to their own schedules and pace.
Asynchronous communication is vital for remote collaboration. It enables individuals and teams to cooperate on the same projects or tasks at their convenience.
One of the drawbacks of asynchronous communication is the potential for feelings of isolation due to a lack of face-to-face meetings or real-time connections with colleagues. Another drawback is the possibility of slower response times.
Types of Business Communication ¶
In addition to understanding its audiences, understanding the different types of business communication is crucial for effective communication within and outside an organization. By using the appropriate type of communication for a given situation, businesses can improve their chances of conveying their message clearly and effectively.
Verbal Communication ¶
Verbal communication involves spoken words between different individuals and groups. In business settings, verbal communication occurs through face-to-face and group meetings, conference calls, sales pitches, training sessions, group meetings, presentations and beyond. Verbal communication is more than just speaking. It also involves active listening. In business settings, confidence and preparation are necessary for effective verbal communication.
Written Communication ¶
Written communication describes written words that share information. Some examples of written communications include reports, presentations, emails, instant messaging and social media posts. Written communication skills are essential in business to clearly express ideas and thoughts. Written communication enables the recording and organizing of ideas, proposals, facts and stories.
Visual Communication ¶
Visual communication uses imagery to get a message across. A visual communications piece, such as an infographic or video, can evoke an emotion and quicker understanding. The goal is to include text, icons, shapes, images and data visualizations that resonate most with a target audience. Visual communication can be used for explaining data, outlining workflows or creating memorable mental pictures.
Non-verbal Communication ¶
From handshakes and hand waves, to the clothes an individual may wear, non-verbal communication involves a variety of methods to convey information without using words. It is often part of verbal communication, sometimes unnoticeable to the communicator. For example, the body goes through postures and motions when an individual speaks. Body language, gestures, posture, facial expressions, tone of voice and other physical cues are all part of non-verbal communication.
Best Practices for Effective Business Communication ¶
Business communication best practices include:
- Keeping it clear and simple. This can include translating complex information into easy-to-digest messages. Videos or infographics are useful to achieve this. Clear communication is also essential to managing expectations and achieving desired outcomes.
- Being open and honest. Honesty and transparency are essential to building long-lasting relationships with employees and external audiences. People value factual information and integrity, which fosters trust.
- Being creative and inspiring. Communication should also do more than just inform. It should inspire, engage, evoke emotion, prompt an action and be memorable. Visual communication can help achieve this.
- Keeping it consistent and accurate. Proofreading and checking for grammar are essential. Consistency in presentation is crucial for creating a unified message and avoiding confusion and frustration.
Future Trends: The Evolution of Business Communication ¶
As globalization, new media and other cultural shifts influence the way businesses communicate, businesses must evolve to remain competitive.
Already, the digital evolution of business communication is changing the economic landscape, with various tools and platforms, such as video conferencing and collaboration tools, gaining widespread adoption during the pandemic. These tools helped facilitate and popularize remote work, which is becoming increasingly common in business. Remote work was already an emerging trend before the COVID-19 pandemic. The British weekly The Economist reports that Americans already spent 5% of their time working from home, but by the middle of 2020 during the pandemic, this number skyrocketed to 60%.
Video chat, remote collaboration, screen sharing and cloud storage solutions are some of the tools that have become essential for effective business communication. These tools are here to stay, and businesses must adjust to incorporate them into their communication strategies. But with the pace of business communication trends moving so fast, it can be challenging to keep up. Where is business communication heading, and how can companies catch up? A look at technology’s recent impact on business communication can offer a glimpse of the future.
The Impact of Technology on Business Communication ¶
In the past decade alone, business communication has seen significant changes due to new technology. In the past, business communications relied on phone calls, emails and in-person meetings. Today, digital communication tools have changed the way businesses communicate, accelerating decision making and increasing productivity. These tools have also helped ignite the growth of the gig economy and the post-pandemic world of remote work.
While social media is not a new phenomenon, some of the trends that populate these platforms have brought dramatic change. With high-profile figures making their mark on social media, concerns about freedom of expression, privacy, and misinformation have come to the forefront. Companies that rely on social media to promote their products must diversify their communication strategies and negotiate these new questions at the same time.
In addition to adapting to social media trends, businesses are also adopting artificial intelligence (AI) for their communication needs. While some people remain skeptical about this technology, others are already taking advantage of it to more efficiently create content, including using it for copywriting, image creation and video production. Audiences can’t always tell when they’re viewing AI-generated content. Because of this, businesses must address the challenge of using AI to streamline content creation without sacrificing the benefits of personalization, authenticity and integrity.
From video conferencing to cloud-based software to AI, technology has created efficiencies and made it easier for businesses to engage their audiences in real-time. In spite of the proliferation of new and emerging communication technologies, the fundamental features and best practices of business communication remain the same. As the evolution of business communication continues in the years and decades to come, organizations and managers that understand the benefits of creativity, personalization and honesty will be positioned best to thrive.
Prepare For a Changing World ¶
Today’s business leaders must have strong business communication skills to be successful in the global economy. With effective business communication competencies, both leaders and communications teams can express ideas and messaging clearly and persuasively. Individuals with strong business communication skills are equipped to also effectively build relationships and collaborate with colleagues, clients, customers and other stakeholders.
An excellent strategy to jumpstart your professional growth is to explore the online Bachelor of Science in Business Management program at Hilbert College Global. Discover how it can empower you with the skills and expertise in business communication and management to advance your career.