Reducing the use of popular business communication tools?
Many managers are looking for ways to improve their business communications and reduce wasted time inside and outside their companies. Are the most common business communication tools like meetings and email the real problem? According to recent studies, the number of meetings and their duration have increased, but meetings are often less than 50% productive. Are we using meetings when another communication tool like email might be more effective? The use of email is increasing and it is also getting a bad rap as being overused or poorly constructed. Emails are used for internal communication and external marketing, so they need to be effective. Many managers are looking for ways to reduce both meetings and emails in their companies. Is downsizing the answer or is using the tools properly and more efficiently the answer?
I’ve written a book on meeting management and articles on what goes wrong in meetings, so I already know where most people need help. I wanted to confirm that others may be concerned about what can go wrong in meetings and that meetings need improvement. As I recently wrote an online article titled “Careful Dating Manners”, so I thought it might be useful to use a popular internet search engine to gauge how important the topic of “dating etiquette” or “dating manners” is. Using them as a keyword in my search, the combined total was over 41,900 results. Just to see if there was agreement with some of my ideas for improving meetings in my articles and books, I read a few of the results that had descriptions that indicated they would provide solutions. Much of the text I read included several of the thirteen elements in my article or some of the advice in my book. However, they often list other problem areas that are specific to the job. Although the item I reviewed did not deliver the same things I thought were essential, they reinforced my belief that meetings are important and that everyone should know better how to take advantage of this method of group communication for business purposes.
After searching for dating, I decided to check “email etiquette” and got over 348,000 results. I scanned the list of options in the first few pages and checked the ones that claimed to include tips in their descriptions. Some of the ones I read I agreed were suitable for professional emails and others I disagreed with because they might work for personal email but are not the right use for business communication. However, I found that much of the text matched many of the thirteen I listed in the online article I wrote last month titled “Encourage Email Etiquette”. Some justified their belief in what was said with an explanation, but most did not. In order for people to display proper email etiquette, they not only need to know what is acceptable, but also why it should be the norm. Email is a great communication tool, but only if the recipient understands what the sender is trying to say. While I may not agree with every element of email etiquette I reviewed, the number of results clearly shows that this is a valid communication concern for business professionals.
I wanted to find out if the two most popular business communication tools should be reduced or should be used effectively. Turning to the Internet as a research tool, I’m not sure if the resulting numbers can indicate which tool people really need the most help with, or which one is being used the most. Either way, I feel confident that the results show that all professionals need both meeting and email communication skills to be enhanced for business purposes. Improvement and proper use is a more realistic response to business communication problems than trying to reduce the necessary use of meetings or email.
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