By Drew Hendricks
Corporately or personally, how do you rank your communication skills – especially in our increasingly digital world? For some, it has become easier than ever to effectively communicate and engage with friends, peers, and customers. For others, communication now feels forced or unnatural. Which camp do you fall into? Let’s take a closer look at how to improve communication in the digital age.
The Value of Digital Communication
Begin by asking a few questions. What does communication mean? More specifically, how important is digital communication in your life? Whether in personal life or in a business setting, conversation and engagement have, in many cases, moved primarily from face-to-face to digital in nature.
From a personal point of view, communication is a valuable part of building relationships and friendships. Using words, body language, and other nonverbal cues, recipients will be able to understand your thoughts, needs, and wants.
In the business world, communication is an extremely important component of success. It adds value to companies’ services and products, establishes authority and voice, and makes it simple to gather necessary feedback from customers.
While it’s easy to see the value in communication, we’re at a strange crossroads where physical and digital communications converge. Generally, it doesn’t take much tech-savviness to understand how to use each independently. But how do they interact with each other? As the divisions between the two are dissolving and digital communication is simply becoming communication, are you properly prepared and equipped to effectively engage and converse with people?
How to Improve Communication Skills through a Screen
From an interpersonal perspective, any type of positive communication is healthy. Here are a few tips for improving communication skills in a digital world:
- Utilize social media. Social media is one of the best opportunities for effective communication in the digital world, and is often regarded as the best way to build or grow relationships on the internet. To begin improving your digital communication skills, social media is an excellent place to start.The most effective social media platforms for professional communication are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook is the most complete social experience and incorporates photos, videos, messaging, and virtual groups. Twitter is perfect for brief conversations and reaching out to people you may or may not know. LinkedIn is essentially the “business version” of Facebook and is a great way to network within your industry or career field.
- Take advantage of texting. When used the correct way, SMS text messaging can be a useful digital communication tool. Texting is best for sending short messages, because most don’t require a lengthy explanation or response. The major mistake people make here is substituting phone calls with text messages. In the business world, texting is rarely appropriate.
- Phone calls are still important. Effectively communicating in a primarily digital world requires picking up the phone from time to time. If all communication is done from behind a screen, you will quickly lose the ability to relate to people and will instead become conditioned to engaging solely with words on a screen. It is vital to strike a healthy balance between digital communication and real world communication.
- Web conferencing opens up new possibilities. For businesses, web conferencing has opened up a world of new opportunities. Using resources like ClickMeeting.com, you can hold effective business meetings with employees, clients, and board members, regardless of physical location. Taking advantage of web conferencing resources will enable better communication while on the road or out of the office.
- Skype to stay in touch. Along the same lines of web conferencing, Skype and other video chat sources can help to develop personal relationships while physically separated from the other person. These digital tools are closest to “real life” communication. Not only can you use your voice, but with video chat, you can also read body language and show expression.
Stay in Touch
Communication is important, regardless of how it’s done. Instead of letting our increasingly digital world hold you back from engaging with the people you need to reach, let it be an advantage. Follow these five tips to truly discover the value of communication!
Drew Hendricks covers tech, social media and environment. He’s written for many major publishers such as Inc., Forbes and Entrepreneur.