Business Communication? You're Doing It Wrong!

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2014-10-30 Email Print this article Print
Business Communication

It's shocking how little effort is often placed on mastering the art of business communication and keeping up with communication trends and technologies.

The handout you give after the presentation. The purpose of your slides and words is to pique interest in your information, to create a lasting and positive impression of you and your message, and to get your audience to feel emotion (humor, excitement, etc.). It's designed to prime people to devour the details and numbers and facts and figures in your handout, which you should never distribute until after the talk.


Set yourself above everyone else by replying to email as fast as you possibly can. By doing this consistently, you'll communicate both consideration and the feeling that you're on top of your game—and not overwhelmed by your responsibilities.

Always achieve zero inbox every day. Treat every email that comes into your inbox as a problem to be solved. Ask yourself: What can I do to prevent emails like this from ever coming at me again. Cancel subscriptions. Set up filters to file some emails and bypass the inbox. Opt out.


Whenever you do a video chat, video conference or use video-based online meeting software, you're making a TV show. (At least, that's how you should look at it.) If you create any kind of video, make sure you or your company invest in a super-high-quality camera and microphone hardware. If possible, use a wired connection to avoid glitches.

Make sure you're lit from the front with good lights and in a way that doesn't create weird shadows on your face. And mind your background. Bottom line: The overall visual and audio presentation of your video communication will communicate vastly more than the content of your words. Welcome to Hollywood.


I have two bits of advice about social media. First, make sure you blog. (Note that a blog is any kind of unmediated communication from a single person—and that includes social media posts.) The reason I recommend this is because no better form of communication has ever existed for building an audience, perfecting knowledge of your subject area, and attracting partners and like-minded professionals for mutual knowledge-building.

Second, never use Twitter. The trolling problem can be fatal to your good standing online, and trolling is almost entirely a Twitter phenomenon. It's structural, not cultural: With Twitter, there's no way for you to delete comments by trolls, and blocking on Twitter isn't really blocking: You're really just blocking yourself from seeing the trolls' comments.

The best place to blog and do social media for business is Google+, which has the industry's best anti-troll tolls. It also has excellent SEO (search engine optimization) for your posts. But if you don't want to use Google+, pick another social network that gives you strong troll control.

When you're starting out in your career, you're in the "whatever" business: IT, telecommunications, software development, marketing—whatever. But as you rise in the ranks and become a manager or executive, guess what? You're mainly in the communication business. So do it as well as you possibly can.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Just keep it simple. And follow my easy rules for mastering the art of business communication.

Mike Elgan is a Silicon Valley-based columnist, writer, speaker and blogger. Go here for more:

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