Internal communication is a really broad discipline. Even its definition (according to Wikipedia) is really broad:
Dissecting the definition
Let’s dissect this definition a little bit.
Internal communications is a “function,” which means that it’s “an activity or purpose natural to or intended for a person or thing” (thanks, Google!) Based on this explanation, we can conclude that the natural purpose of internal communications is to produce effective communication between people at work.
But “effective communication” is another phrase with broad meaning. I love this definition from ask.com:
“Effective communication is a two-way process that includes sending the right message that is also being correctly received and understood by the other person/s who is receiving it on the other end.”
By this definition, effective communication is a two-way process that involves two key ingredients:
- Sending the right message
- Ensuring correct understanding of that message by the recipient
So how do we ensure that effective communication is happening, that we are not only sending the right kinds of messages but also that those messages are being understood and acted on?
Sending the Right Message
When you can’t meet face-to-face with someone and must send an electronic message instead, make sure it includes more than just plain text. Why? Because we are visual people who rely on facial expression, tone of voice, and other “non-verbal cues” to interpret meaning.
One of the best ways to include these non-verbal cues in a normally "text-based" message is by adding interactive components, such as videos, images, audio files, and questionnaires. These elements give your recipients something to "do" with the message instead of just reading it, which is a somewhat passive activity.
The more engaging and interactive your messages are, the more your your recipients will understand and remember them.
Making Sure They Understood It
Hopefully the content of your message will have done most of the work for you here. The stronger and more engaging your messages are, the less likelihood of misunderstandings. But after it’s delivered, how can you make sure your message hits its target and is understood and acted on?
Don’t just leave it to chance, like you usually have to do when you send regular emails. With email, it’s frustrating not knowing if your recipient got your message, and, if they got it, if they even took the time to read it. Instead, you can track recipient interaction with elements of your message (like videos and documents) and gather feedback on recipients' understanding of the content with communication tech tools like this one.
Remembering Two Ingredients for Success
If we just keep in mind that truly effective communication must always include these two ingredients, sending the right message and ensuring correct understanding of that message, we will be well on the way to making internal communication a true success.