Developing a Communication Plan


People in business find it hard to stay in touch. There’s always work to be done, so why spend the time just talking? But that’s where problems arise. Frustrated employees don’t know what’s happening in their business, customers can’t get calls returned, suppliers don’t understand why a payment is late.

When people in business want to know how to communicate better, what they mean is they want to persuade others better to see and do things their way. They focus on what they’re going to say. What you say is important, but don’t underestimate the importance of listening.

First, make a list of all the people you need to stay in touch with — customers, potential customers, past customers, employees, contractors, sales reps, suppliers, distributors, funding sources, industry colleagues, referral sources, etc. — and note how often you need to contact them, how you’ll communicate with them, and what each needs to know.

Next, keep the following tips in mind:

From the beginning, be sure everyone involved in a project understands as much as possible about the nature of the work, the overall goals, the timetable, and the possible complications or delays.

Stay in touch
Let people know what you’re doing, or find out how they’re doing. If you’re working for a client, keep them informed — even if the task isn’t done. With employees, don’t hover, but don’t let them think they can’t ask you questions, either.

Let people know
Whenever anything happens that alters original plans or previous decisions, let people know as soon as possible. Things happen. Plans change. Problems arise. Others will be much less frustrated if they’re told of changes right away.

Don’t wait for a project to be finished or for success to be achieved to acknowledge other people’s efforts. Let people know they’re doing a good job while they’re still doing it.

Listening is an absolutely critical business skill, particularly for those in management or sales. Listening doesn’t mean just giving another person a chance to speak; it means actively listening to what they’re saying, asking questions, and reflecting on what they’ve said.


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