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COMMUNICATIONS

 

What is COMMUNICATIONS?

Communications Definition:

Communications is the passing on of information to another person or persons in a variety of formats.!

There are many ways to communicate but in fact they fall into three broad categories.

  • Written
  • Verbal
  • Visual

In business, good and clear communications are an essential part of business life and practice.  All business has to subscribe to wanting to make any document they produce as “User Friendly” as is possible.

Written

There are several types of writing, and although essentially they are trying to achieve the same end result they are all different.

  • Make sure you write so everyone can understand what you have said
  • Present it so it easy to read
  • Understand the needs of your reader
  • Do not write long complicated paragraphs
  • Do not edit or review something you have written

Communications is used so that a person can tell someone else what they are doing, have designed or want them to do.  Looking at talking first there are a few questions to ask yourself before you talk.

Very broadly there are two types of writing Fiction and Business and I am not going to deal with Fiction as it is not relevant here.  The most important thing to remember with writing is to have good and clear presentation.  This is because if a reader cannot follow or see what they want they will stop reading after a couple of minutes.

Business Writing can roughly be broken into smaller groups and these are

  • Letters, E-mails, Invoices, Statements Receipts and Notes
  • Reports, Manuals (Handbooks), Business Plans
  • Sales Brochures, Catalogues
  • Tender Requests and Tender Responses

Letters, E-mails, Invoices, Statements Receipts and Notes – all of these are relatively short and are used to impart information quickly and briefly.  Invoices, Statements and Receipts are used when work has been done for a client and payment is being asked for or has been received.  Letters and E-mails are used to ask someone to do something or to accompany other more detailed information.

When writing Reports, Manuals (Handbooks) or Tenders, having a good format that is easy to follow and to read will keep the reader engaged and interested.  One thing that many people are afraid of is to have white space on a page.  There is nothing wrong in having white space and if the person writing uses BS 4884 Technical Manuals there will be white space on your pages.  With computers you can set up your own Style Sheets and Templates for commonly produced documents; this speeds up the process and ensures a commonality in a business’s documents.  With computers it is possible to get them to produce contents lists and other things and it is up to the individual if you choose to use them.

Reports, Manuals (Handbooks), Business Plans – each of these have specific purposes.  A Business Plan is used by a business to set out what it plans to do and what its aims are.  It is essential for new businesses starting up and those looking for investment. It is also normal for a forward thinking business to produce one every year.

Manuals (Handbooks): these come in numerous styles and headings.  Most companies, if they produce or manufacture an object, will have to produce a manual or a suite of manuals.  These can be broadly divided into the following headings – Instruction/User Manual; Service/Maintenance Manual and Installation Manual.  Each of these will give the reader a different level of information.

Sales Brochures/Catalogues: these are essentially promotional/advertising material for a business.  A Sales Brochure gives the reader enough information on the product for them to decide if it is what they want and to go and ask additional questions of a salesman.  A catalogue is a complete list of a business’s products and it is aimed at showing a potential customer what you can supply and the price.

Tender Request and Tender Responses are very specialised documents and require a different approach to other business documents.  A Tender Request is prepared by a company or a government department in order to get some work done by a specialist.  It should give the specialist enough information to respond to the requirements.  A Tender Response is the specialist’s response to the Tender Request.  A Tender Response should answer all the questions asked of them and be easy to read; well presented; clear and concisely written; factual and highlight the businesses unique selling point.

Talking

When talking it is very important to make sure you think before you talk to ensure that you are confident in the fact that you can get your message across.

  • What do we want to say
  • How do we say it to make sure you are understood
  • How much detail can I give the listener(s)

We talk to people all the time and in a non-business setting it is normally very relaxed and easy to get across your message.  You still have to make sure that you are clear in what you are saying and that you are not misunderstood.

Business talking is somewhat different and you have to be sure of your facts and ideas to start with.  It is essential that you have your facts correct and that you think about what you want to say first.  Also it is very important to listen to what is being said to you.

Speak clearly so you can be understood.

Most business people end up giving a presentation at some point.  This type of talking is stressful and it is very important to make sure you know your subject and have good notes.  You should use notes or headings as pointers and then you will engage with the audience.  Don’t read from them.

Change the tone and pitch of your voice otherwise you end speaking in a monotone and the audience will switch off and not hear you or listen.  Use examples and recent incidents if they are relevant and do not name names of people someone in the audience may know who you are talking about.

Visual

Visual communications is a complex topic in its own right and yet it is also the easiest to explain.  It can be broken down into several sub-groups.

  • Picture – usually artistic and colourful
  • Drawings – usually line drawings and without any colour or limited colour
  • Photographs – a picture of a subject or scene
  • Body Language

In documents, these are divided into three main groups Pictures, Drawings and Photographs.  In face-to-face communications, Body Language is very relevant

Pictures will normally have some colour in them and can be one, two or three dimensional depending on the specific requirements.

Drawings these are usually line drawing and will more than likely have no colour on the although they could use shading to highlight specific areas or to hide an area.

Photographs are exactly what they say they are.  It is much easier to use photographs with the advent of digital cameras.  There are several formats that a visual can be saved on a computer and it is really up to the person writing the manual to decide what they want and to instruct the person supplying the visual.

Body Language is something we all do sub-consciously.  It is a big subject and includes non verbal signs and gestures, that include body posture, gestures, facial expressions, eye movements, etc. Humans send and interpret such signals almost entirely subconsciously.

Body Language is very relevant to management and leadership, and to all aspects of work and business where communications can be seen and physically observed among people.

With any type of visual being used in a manual it is important make sure that it is relevant to the subject and are put in the correct place in the manual.  Every visual must have a title and must be put in the contents list.

What The Synergy Group can do for you:

  • Review and prepare your basic documentation, e.g. invoices, demand letters, etc.
  • Review and prepare your manuals, business plans, tenders, etc.
  • Review your internal and external communications.
  • Help you prepare for presentations, talks, training, etc.
  • Set standards for emails.
  • Review how you want your company to be perceived & set about achieving it.
  • Generally review your internal and external communications

Call The Synergy Group to get a review of your Communications Strategy for free and we will advise you on the best way to go forward.  Then if you wish we will hold your hand to make sure it works.

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