Assessing your communication options
main communication methods
AS A STARTING POINT, here is a brief
description of what are probably the most popular methods for business communication used
today. Some of these are universally familiar, others recent arrivals on the scene, but
for completeness and to ensure a common understanding, I have attempted to describe them
audio playback devices are not usually available at work, they are almost universal in
homes and cars and can be taken practically anywhere in the form of personal stereos.
Audio is used only infrequently as a means for business communication, primarily as a way
of delivering information and training to employees such as salespeople, who are
constantly on the move. Audio production is relatively inexpensive.
||As soon as
videocassette recorders became established within the home, their use within business
flourished, primarily for formal corporate communications, but also for training. Although
video will increasingly be transmitted by satellite to those organisations with large
branch structures, or directly to desktop PCs over a companys network, the
videocassette will remain the most practical option for some time. Depending on the
production values employed, video can be expensive to produce, though relatively
inexpensive to replicate and deliver.
CD-ROM is a compact disc used for storing computer data, although this data can be in
practically any form, including audio and video. Although CD-ROMs are universal now on
home PCs, as much as anything as a way of installing software, most business PCs do not
require them. The primary use for CD-ROMs in business is the delivery of multimedia
training or sales presentations, normally on specially-provided workstations. Depending on
the nature of the media making up a CD-ROM and the degree of interactivity required,
CD-ROMs can be expensive to produce, yet inexpensive to replicate and deliver.
|Letters / memos / reports
||In spite of the
increase in electronic communication, we all seem to receive our fair share of messages on
paper. This may be because there is no e-mail link between the parties, because a hard
copy is required to meet audit or legal requirements or because the recipient prefers to
read from paper than from a screen.
common form of paper document, with the distinction that the main purpose is reference
rather than gaining a response.
||A great deal of our
post consists of printed documents in the form of brochures, fliers, magazines and
newsletters, many of which originate from outside, although this format is also common for
corporate communications. Depending on the production values and the number of colours,
printed materials can be expensive to produce and replicate, except at high volumes.
uses the public telephone system as a way of delivering paper documents from one place to
another, in those situations where a hard copy original is not essential.
||E-mail has become
the primary means for delivering short text messages within organisations that are
networked. As e-mail between organisations becomes more common, the medium will
increasingly take the place of fax, particularly as whole documents can be sent as e-mail
attachments. E-mail provides many cost advantages when compared with the use of paper or
intranet uses the same technology as the Internet, but operates within the confines of a
single organisation. Normally an intranet is used to deliver text and images, although the
technology is capable of audio, animation, video and real-time 3D graphics (sometimes
called 'virtual reality'). The principal constraint on the media that an intranet can
employ is the bandwidth (capacity) of the organisations network, although it is also
the case that few desktop PCs are currently capable of playing audio. Information is much
less expensive to distribute and maintain with an intranet than with paper equivalents.
frequencies available, radio is used almost exclusively for public broadcast channels and
has few uses for business communications. Furthermore, radio receivers are not commonly
available in the workplace.
radio, broadcast TV is typically used for public rather than business purposes and few TV
receivers are available at work. However, some organisations with large branch networks
use satellite to transmit TV programmes to the workforce.
||By this, we just
mean two people meeting face to face, here and now.
by this, we mean three or more people, meeting in person.
universal and, with the advent of voice mail and mobile phones, it is now possible to
reach people practically anytime, anywhere. Conferencing facilities also make it possible
for meetings of three or more people to take place remotely.
conferencing uses phone lines to transmit video as well as sound, between two or more
parties. Because cameras, microphones, audio playback, special software and high-bandwidth
network cabling are required, video conferencing is used only infrequently and on
specially-provided workstations. However, as networks become more powerful and the
hardware components less expensive, it is conceivable that the facility will eventually be
available on every PC.