Definition of business communication
According to Mary Ellen Guffey, “Business communication is the process of creating and conveying a message that is meaningful to the sender and the receiver with the purpose of achieving a desired outcome.”
As defined by Murphy and Hildebrandt, “Business communication is the sharing of information between people within and outside an organization for the purpose of achieving organizational goals.”
What is business communication?
Business communication is the process of sharing information and messages within an organization and with external stakeholders such as customers and suppliers. The core objective of business communication is to promote a clear understanding of organizational goals and ultimately contribute to the overall achievement and growth of the business. Effective business communication plays a crucial role in ensuring that information flows seamlessly across different levels of an organization, leading to improved productivity and a positive corporate image.
Nature of business communication
The nature of business communication is dynamic and interactive. It involves the exchange of information, ideas, and messages through various channels, such as verbal, written, digital, and nonverbal, and requires both sender and receiver to be actively involved in the communication process.
Characteristics of business communication
In today’s business scenario business communication can take various forms, including verbal, written, or digital communication. Therefore it is important to keep in check the several features of business communication that make it unique and important for achieving organizational goals.
- Goal-oriented: Business communication is purposeful and directed towards achieving specific objectives.
- Formality: It generally follows a formal and structured tone, with attention given to language, tone, and etiquette.
- Clear and concise: Effective business communication is clear and concise, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complexity.
- Audience-specific: Successful business communication, consider the requirements, preferences, and expectations of the target audience.
- Documented: Business communication is often documented in writing, whether in the form of emails, memos, reports, or other written materials.
- Two-way process: Business communication involves a two-way process of sending and receiving information, where feedback is encouraged.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Main characteristics of effective business communication
Types of business communication
The most common types of business communication include:
1/ Internal communication: is a type of communication that occurs within an organization and involves communication between employees and other stakeholders such as shareholders, suppliers, and customers. Internal communication can further be divided into four board categories:
- Upward Communication: This type of communication involves information flowing from subordinates to superiors. It is often used to provide feedback, suggestions, or updates on the progress of a project.
- Downward Communication: This kind of communication refers to the sharing of information from top-level authority to lower-level employees. It is usually done to give directions, comments, or advice about particular projects.
- Lateral/horizontal communication: This form of communication concerns the exchange of information between people or groups who hold the same rank or position in an organization. It is commonly utilized to exchange concepts, collaborate on tasks, or settle disputes.
- Diagonal communication: This form of communication occurs among individuals or departments occupying different levels within an organization, yet not in a direct hierarchical relationship.
2/ External communication: This kind of communication happens when the company interacts with people or organizations outside of it, such as customers, suppliers, investors, and the media. It involves sending messages about the company’s products or services, persuading people to buy them, managing the company’s image, and more.
3/ Formal communication: The formal form of communication is structured communication which is frequently recorded for future reference. It encompasses reports, memos, letters, and official communications within the company.
4/ Informal communication: This type of communication does not follow a predefined structure or format and is often verbal. Informal communication in the workplace includes conversations, emails, and social interactions among employees.
Related Reading: The difference between formal and informal communication
Examples of business communication
1/ Chat message between team members: “Hey guys, just a quick reminder that we have a meeting at 2 pm today. Please make sure to review the agenda and come prepared. See you there!”
2/ Memo from HR department: “To all employees, We are pleased to announce that the company will be offering a new health insurance plan starting next month. Please see the attached document for more information and instructions on how to enroll. Best regards, HR department.”
3/ Email from a manager to their team: “Dear team, I wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming project deadline. Please make sure to complete your tasks and submit your work by Friday at 5 pm. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks, John.”
4/ Social media post from a company: “Exciting news! Our new product line is now available online and in stores. Check it out and let us know what you think!”
5/ Thank-you letter from a business owner to a customer: “Dear Ms. Johnson, I wanted to personally thank you for your recent purchase and for being a loyal customer. We value your business and appreciate your support. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to serve you better. Sincerely, Jane Doe, Owner.”
Process of business communication
- Planning: Determining the purpose, audience, and key message of the communication, as well as the appropriate channel and timing.
- Composing: Creating the message, including selecting appropriate language, tone, and format, and organizing the information clearly and concisely.
- Sending: Transmitting the message through the chosen channel, such as email, phone call, or face-to-face conversation.
- Receiving: The recipient receives the message and decodes it, interpreting its meaning and relevance.
- Understanding: The recipient understands the message and its intended meaning, which may involve seeking clarification or additional information if needed.
- Responding: The recipient provides feedback or responds to the message, either verbally or in writing.
- Evaluating: Reflecting on the communication and assessing its effectiveness, including any areas for improvement or opportunities for further engagement.
Channels in business communication
Channels in business communication refer to the methods or mediums used to convey a message from the sender to the receiver. Communication channels can be categorized as either verbal or nonverbal and may comprise in-person discussions, telephone calls, video conferencing, and written records.
The choice of the communication channel can depend on various factors such as the type of message, urgency, audience, the sender’s preference, and the available technology.
Methods of communication in business
Effective communication that is both clear and concise can prevent misunderstandings when interacting with both customers and employees. It can also help to increase productivity and foster positive relationships. In this Section, we will explore different methods of communication that businesses use to convey their messages, share information, and collaborate with others.
1/ Verbal communication: This is the most common method of communication and involves speaking to an employee in person or over the phone. It is useful for conveying information quickly and getting immediate feedback.
2/ Written communication: The written method involves conveying information in writing, such as through emails, memos, reports, or letters. It is useful for conveying detailed information and maintaining a record of communication.
3/ Digital communication: This method involves the use of technology to communicate, such as through video conferencing, instant messaging, or social media. Digital communication is also beneficial for communicating with teams in remote locations.
4/ Non-verbal communication: This approach entails communicating information through nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. It is useful for conveying emotions and attitudes and can complement verbal communication.
5/ Visual communication: Businesses often use visual aids for conveying information through images, such as graphs, charts, or videos. It is useful for presenting complex information or business data in a simple and easy-to-understand format.
6/ Mass communication: This method involves communicating with a large audience, such as through advertising, public relations, or marketing campaigns. It is useful for reaching a wide range of stakeholders and promoting the organization’s brand and reputation.
7/ Interpersonal communication: This method involves communication between individuals in a face-to-face setting. It is useful for building relationships and fostering collaboration within the organization.
Related Reading: What are Interpersonal Barriers to Communication
What are the 7Cs in business communication?
The 7Cs in business communication are a set of principles that guide effective communication in a professional setting. These 7Cs are as follows:
By following these 7Cs, businesses can ensure that their communication is effective, efficient, and professional, and helps to build strong relationships with customers, clients, and other stakeholders.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Principles of business communication with examples
Elements of business communication
The elements of business communication are the fundamental components that make up effective communication in a business setting. These elements include:
1/ Sender: The individual or organization that starts the communication process by generating and sending a message.
2/ Message: The information, ideas, or thoughts conveyed by the sender through various channels such as written documents, verbal exchanges, or multimedia.
3/ Channel: The methods utilized for transmitting the message, such as face-to-face discussions, telephone calls, electronic mail, or social media networks.
4/ Receiver: The person or entity who receives the message and interprets it.
5/ Feedback: The reply or feedback provided by the recipient to the message, which can be expressed either verbally or through nonverbal cues.
6/ Context: The circumstances or situation in which the communication takes place, including the physical, cultural, and social environment, as well as any external factors that may affect the message’s reception and interpretation.
7/ Encoding: The process by which the sender transforms the message into a suitable form for transmission, such as through language, symbols, or gestures.
8/ Decoding: The process by which the recipient comprehends the message and assigns meaning to it, based on their own knowledge, experiences, and cultural background.
9/ Noise: Any external or internal factors that interfere with the effective communication of a message. Noise can take various forms and may include physical barriers, psychological barriers, or semantic barriers
By understanding and applying these elements of business communication, organizations can improve their communication effectiveness, enhance relationships with stakeholders, and achieve their business objectives.
What is the importance of communication in business?
In the context of business, communication is a vital component that enables the smooth exchange of information among various stakeholders, including employees, clients, and partners. When communication is done effectively, it can help establish strong relationships and boost productivity.
In fact, a report by CMSWire states that 97% of employees believe communication has a significant impact on their daily working tasks.
Additionally, communication allows businesses to gain insights into the expectations and requirements of their stakeholders, identify issues, and address them efficiently. By promoting transparency and trust, clear communication can also help businesses maintain a positive reputation and attract new customers.
Importance of effective business communication
Effective business communication is crucial for achieving organizational goals and objectives. It enables clear and concise sharing of ideas, plans, and expectations among team members, clients, and partners. This enhances productivity, reduces errors, and promotes a positive working environment.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Importance of business communication for an organization
Purpose of business communication
Business communication aims to facilitate the transfer of information and messages among individuals or groups operating within a business environment. This helps to facilitate the smooth running of business operations, improve efficiency, and achieve organizational objectives.
Role of Manager in effective business communication
The role of the manager in effective business communication includes the following:
1/ Internal marketing is an important aspect of good business communication. Managers should ensure that employees’ well-being and work satisfaction are taken care of.
2/ Managers should keep track of changes in society and the ever-changing business environment to reflect these changes in communication processes within the business.
3/ Managers may have to work with difficult or unmotivated people, but with the right tools and effective communication principles, they can develop key business relationships in the workplace.
4/ Communication skills are essential for any management position as managers often have to deal with relational complexities involved in overseeing projects and directing a diverse group of individuals.
For instance, the manager may need to provide constructive feedback on an employee’s work performance, while on other occasions, they may have the opportunity to commend and acknowledge another employee’s exceptional performance.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 72% of employees believe that their performance could be enhanced if their managers offered corrective feedback, also referred to as “negative” feedback.
What are the barriers to business communication?
Obstacles that block the smooth transfer of information between individuals or groups operating within a business context are known as barriers to business communication. These barriers can also lead to miscommunication and poor communication within the business.
David Grossman’s report, The Cost of Poor Communications, which surveyed 400 large companies and 100,000 employees, found that communication barriers in the workplace result in an annual cost of $62.4 million per company.
Some common barriers to business communication include:
To know more check out our detailed article on: 10 Barriers to Business Communication & How to Overcome Them
What is the importance of business communication ethics?
Business communication ethics is important because it helps to establish trust, credibility, and accountability in business relationships. It is important to uphold these ethical standards to ensure that information is shared truthfully, transparently, and with integrity.
By doing this, a company can prevent misunderstandings, disputes, and legal problems that could harm its reputation and financial performance. In addition, ethical communication fosters a positive corporate culture, improves employee morale, and builds strong relationships with customers and other stakeholders.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Importance of ethics in business communication with examples
What are business communication skills?
Business communication skills refer to the abilities that individuals and organizations use to effectively convey information, ideas, and messages in a professional context.
These skills may include written communication, such as email, reports, and proposals, as well as verbal communication, such as presentations, meetings, and negotiations. Having good communication skills is vital in establishing robust connections with clients, staff, and stakeholders.
It also plays a critical role in encouraging cooperation and teamwork within an organization. In fact, the National Association of Colleges and Employers discovered that 73% of employers value employees who possess robust written communication abilities.
To know more check out our detailed article on: 10 skills for effective business communication
Examples of important business communication skills include:
- Active listening,
- Clarity of expression,
Using these, effective communication skills can also help to enhance productivity, reduce misunderstandings, and improve overall business performance.
Books on business communication
5 highly regarded business communication books:
1/ “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
This book offers practical advice and strategies for having difficult conversations in a business context. It provides tools for managing emotions, speaking persuasively, and reaching mutually beneficial outcomes.
2/ “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The focus of this book is to investigate the reasons why certain concepts have a greater impact and are more convincing than others. It offers practical tips for crafting messages that are clear, compelling, and easily understood by audiences.
3/ “The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life” by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
By highlighting the significance of creativity, inspiration, and possibility thinking, this book presents a new outlook on business communication. It provides practical advice for overcoming obstacles and achieving success in business and other areas of life.
4/ “Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond” by Jay Sullivan
This book offers practical advice for improving communication skills in a business context. It covers topics such as active listening, clarity of expression, and building rapport with others.
5/ “HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations” by Nancy Duarte
This book provides practical tips and techniques for creating and delivering effective business presentations. It covers topics such as storytelling, visual design, and delivery techniques.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Best books for business communication
How to improve business communication
Here are some of the top ways you can improve business communication
- Practice active listening
- Use clear and concise language
- Use appropriate tone and body language
- Provide context and background information
- Use different communication channels appropriately
- Practice empathy
- Be concise and to the point
- Seek feedback
- Invest in training and Practice
What are some best business communication tools?
Having the right communication tools is important whether you’re collaborating with team members, communicating with clients or customers, or managing projects. In this list, we’ve compiled some of the best business communication tools that can help you streamline your communication processes:
Further Reading: 20 Best Business Communication Tools (Tested + User Reviews)
Use of technology in business communication
With the advantage of technology in business communication, businesses can now communicate more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Technology has made it possible to connect with anyone, anywhere in the world, in real time. It has also made it easier to share information, collaborate on projects, and automate certain communication tasks.
Some of the most commonly used technologies in business communication include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, project management tools, social media, and cloud storage services. However, businesses need to use these tools effectively and securely to ensure they are not compromising sensitive information.
Report writing in business communication
Report writing in business communication is the process of creating a formal document that provides information, analysis, and recommendations on a particular topic or issue.
A report typically includes several key elements, including an introduction that explains the purpose and scope of the report, a body that presents the findings or analysis, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points and provides recommendations or next steps.
Reports may also include other elements such as tables, graphs, or charts to help illustrate key points, as well as appendices that provide additional details or supporting information.
Types of reports in business communication
Several different types of reports are commonly used in business communication, each with its own specific purpose and format. Here are some of the most common types of reports:
- Informational Reports: These reports are used to convey information on a particular topic or issue, such as market research or progress updates.
- Analytical Reports: The purpose of these reports is to analyze data and information to generate recommendations and insights.
- Feasibility Reports: These reports are utilized to assess the viability of a specific project or concept. They typically include an analysis of potential costs, risks, and benefits.
- Progress Reports: The purpose of these reports is to provide progress updates regarding ongoing projects.
- Recommendation Reports: These reports provide recommendations for a particular course of action, often based on research and analysis.
To know more check out our detailed guide on: Types of business reports in business communication
Presentation topics for business communication
A well-chosen topic can help capture the audience’s attention and provide valuable insights and information. Some impactful presentation topics for business communication include:
- Time Management and Productivity in the Workplace
- Creating and Delivering Effective Business Presentations
- Conflict Resolution Strategies for Business Teams
- Tips for Effective Business Writing
- Strategies for Successful Business Negotiation
- Strategies for Employee Engagement and Retention
However, when selecting a presentation topic, it’s important to consider the interests and needs of the audience, as well as the goals of the presentation.
To know more check our detailed article on: Best topics for business communication presentation
Difference between business communication and other communication
The above table highlights some key differences between business communication and other types of communication.
To achieve business objectives.
To exchange information or ideas.
Internal and external business stakeholders.
Professional and formal.
Informal and casual.
Structured and formal documents.
Varied formats, such as emails, texts, or social media messages.
Business-related information, such as proposals, reports, or memos.
Personal or social information, such as greetings, small talk, or sharing of experiences.
Often formal and structured, such as performance reviews or customer feedback.
Informal and less structured, such as reactions or responses to social media posts.
Traditional, such as letters or meetings, and digital, such as email or video conferencing.
Varied, depending on the medium used, such as phone, text, or social media platforms.
Can have a significant impact on business outcomes, such as sales, profits, or reputation.
May have social or personal consequences, but generally less significant than business communication.
To know more check out our detailed article on: Business communication vs General communication
Frequently Asked Question
Q1) What do you mean by business communication?
Ans: Business communication is the process of exchanging information, and messages within and between organizations for the purpose of achieving specific business goals.
Q2) What are the 4 types of business communication?
Ans: The four types of business communication are upward communication, downward communication, horizontal communication, and external communication. For an organization to be proficient they need all four types of communication to effectively and achieve their goals.
Q3) What are the 4 pillars of business communication?
Ans: The four pillars of business communication are clarity, conciseness, completeness, and correctness. These pillars are essential for effective business communication, as they help to ensure that messages are transmitted successfully.
Q4) What are the 5 parts of business communication?
Ans: The five parts of business communication are opening, body, context, conclusion, and closing. These five parts help to structure business communication effectively, ensuring that messages are clear and complete.