Ensuring that you communicate effectively is vital to the success of your projects and ultimately your business. In today’s society, a vast array of communication options are available to us. Choosing the most effective communications tool is essential for ensuring you reach the right people, at the right time, in the right way. Simply firing off an email is not necessarily the best approach. Here, we take a look at some of the business communication tools every business should have in its toolkit, and when some may work better than others.

Getting the communications mix right

From a communications style which relies heavily on email and lots of documentation to the most agile of teams who communicate via quick, face-to-face meetings, each approach has its benefits. There will be times when a quick meeting in person is all that is required. There will also be times when written communication is absolutely necessary. You may need to do both to communicate the same message. A flexible approach is vital.

Effective tools for communication

Let’s take a look at the main communications tools used in business today, when to use them and when they should be avoided.

Phone calls

Yes, the humble telephone may be one of the oldest tools available, but it is invaluable when there is an urgent matter or if you need to get a group of people in different locations together for a conversation. Remember that some people may still prefer to speak on the telephone above any other method of communication.

Of course, there are times when a phone call may not be the best approach. For example, if an email or instant message could be sent instead, especially outside of normal working hours.

Face-to-face/stand-up meetings

If you have a clear goal in mind that can be achieved quickly by getting people together in the same location, then a short, face-to-face meeting may be your answer. Equally, sensitive matters may need to be dealt with in this way too. Above all, face-to-face meetings should always have a clearly defined purpose.


Email has undoubtedly become a part of our everyday lives. Easily sent, they are a great tool for updating many people at once on issues which are relevant but do not necessarily require a response. If you don’t already have a system in place for sharing documents, email is also a good way to share files.

However, there is a danger of email overload if this channel is used too liberally. It can mean that important messages get missed amongst the clutter of an overflowing inbox. Therefore, email isn’t the best choice if you need a timely reply. Always think about how you would feel if you were the recipient of the email you’re about to send. For example, a personal or very sensitive manner may be dealt with more effectively in person or via a phone call, even if email documentation is required at a later stage.

With so many business communication tools available, it is critical to choose the right option tailored for each situation. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work. The best leaders adopt a flexible approach to communication, understanding their team and customers and acting accordingly.