To start the year off on the right foot, follow these tips for effective in-office communication, whether you’re gathering for meetings or connecting via email.
Make Meetings Meaningful!
- Create an agenda and send it out to attendees before the meeting whenever possible. This can be helpful for a one-on-one meeting with your manager or a large team meeting
- Follow up with notes, especially so projects stay on track if there were attendees who couldn’t join. Create follow up tasks and assign them to individuals so that everyone is clear about their role in the project.
- When necessary, follow up with another meeting. This allows you to put a plan in place for action items and track progress from your previous discussion.
- Avoid “over-inviting”. If the information doesn’t pertain to that person, or they could be filled in with a brief conversation or summary email, chances are they don’t need to take the time to join.
- Be mindful of everyone’s time and try to stick closely to the agenda
- Clearly and concisely share your thoughts without interrupting or speaking over other parties
- Avoid endless discussion and try to focus on a solution to any issues that are brought forward
Reply All… But only when necessary!
- DO reply all on a chain when coordinating a project, meeting, or when each person needs the information to be sure everyone is in the loop. Also be sure you are responding to the most recent email in the chain to avoid confusion. Check out this article for outlook or this article for gmail to sort your inbox by conversation, grouping each chain together so you never miss a response.
- DON’T reply all when the information is sensitive, of a personal nature, or the sender has requested individual responses.
- Communicate with other functional groups by utilizing management to distribute information. Rather than sending an email to 20+ people, share with management teams who can disperse the information directly to their own teams. Oftentimes this is more effective than another bulk email.
- Avoid unnecessary back-and-forth scheduling by keeping your calendar up-to-date.
- Always be mindful if there are more than 3-4 people on the chain. Be respectful of everyone’s inbox, and refrain from sending anything that can be limited to a single response (Ex: Happy Friday Everybody!)
- When emailing, be sure to provide enough context or information for your audience to take action. Be brief, but provide enough detail so that you aren’t continuously emailing back and forth for clarification.
- Consider tone – we’ve all misinterpreted or been misunderstood via email/text. When in doubt, rephrase!
Be timely with your responses . Acknowledging receipt of an email can go a long way, even if you aren’t prepared to formally respond or answer the sender’s questions. (Ex: “I appreciate/understand your message. I’m still working on this/traveling/unable to provide a response, but I will get my thoughts/action plan back to you before EOW”).