8 useful tips for communicating effectively in the digital age

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How you communicate with everyone from your family to colleagues has changed enormously over the last few decades. While the tools we use to connect have changed, what’s remained important is communicating effectively. Read on to discover some tips for doing so in the digital age.

On 3 December 1992, Neil Papworth sent the very first text message – simply reading “Merry Christmas”. Just a year later, Nokia introduced an SMS feature on its handsets.

Today, millions of texts are sent every day and it’s strange to remember a time when you couldn’t send a simple message to your family and friends with just a few taps.

Since then, how we communicate has evolved even further. Emails have become commonplace, there are numerous instant messaging services, and video conferencing has replaced some face-to-face meetings.

The evolution of technology and communication means it’s easier than ever to get in touch with someone, but it can also lead to miscommunication and things being lost in translation.

Here are eight tips for effective communication in the digital age.

1. Prioritise your responses

With communication so easy, you probably get hundreds of emails and messages every week. It can be overwhelming.

Organising your inboxes so it’s clear which messages you need to respond to, those that can wait or be deleted could help you take control. A system that works for you means you’re less likely to miss important things.

2. Set out which channels you’ll use

You probably use several different channels of communication for each person, and it can mean things get lost.

Keeping conversations in one channel, whether that’s email or instant messaging, can make it easier to follow. This is particularly true in the workplace where you may be passing important details or documents to colleagues or clients.

3. Make your communications clear

Another side effect of lots of emails is that people will often skim read. It can mean they overlook things. So, making your messages concise and clear is vital.

Before you send something, go through it, and ask yourself if you would understand what you need to do in response if you were the person receiving it. A couple of extra minutes of reviewing can make sure the recipient has everything they need to accurately complete tasks straightaway.

4. Be mindful of your tone

One of the challenges of digital communication is that it can be hard to get your tone across. It can be all too easy for the recipient to read something in the tone of a message that you didn’t intend.

If you’re providing feedback, does your message sound encouraging or frustrated? The tone of a message can make a huge difference in how people respond, so it’s something you should be mindful of.

5. Give feedback regularly

If you’re working remotely, you may overlook providing feedback. When you’re meeting in person and have an opportunity for more informal conversations, feedback is often given naturally.

You should try to do this when you’re communicating digitally too. Taking a moment to recognise great work can help establish better relationships and boost morale in a team.

6. Make use of visual channels

It’s often said that more than half of communication is non-verbal – your body language and facial expressions play a role too. As a result, making use of video calls can help you connect and get your message across better.

If you need to pass along instructions or provide training digitally, tools like Loom, which records your screen, can be invaluable. It means the recipient can clearly see what they need to do and rewatch the recording if they’re unsure about the process.

7. Don’t forget to check the information before you send

From autocorrect to just being in a rush, mistakes can creep into digital communication. It’s always worth giving your messages a review before they’re sent to avoid errors that could cause confusion or even prove costly.

8. Recognise when to do away with technology

Sending a quick text or email from your phone is simple, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in getting rid of technology now and again. Scheduling face-to-face meetings, whether in your personal or working life, is important for building relationships.

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