External Communication in Organizations

External communication is the transmission of information between a business and another person or entity in the company’s external environment. Examples of these people and entities include customers, potential customers, suppliers, investors, shareholders and the society at large.

A business typically engages in managing its external communications. The approach used will vary by circumstances, purpose, and the intended recipient. A business will communicate differently if it is communicating with potential customers. Every organization is required to maintain a relation with other organizations or people with a view to achieve goals. So when a business organization exchanges information with other business organizations, government offices, banks, insurance companies, customers, suppliers, leaders and general people, it is known as external communication.

This type of communication covers how a provider interacts with those outside their own organization. The goals of this type of communication are to facilitate cooperation with groups such as suppliers,investors and stockholders and to present a favorable image of an organization and its product or services to potential and actual customers and to the society at large. A variety of channels may be used for this type of communications, including face to face meetings, prints or broadcast media and electronic communication technologies such as internet.

So therefore, communication with those outside the organization is an informal exchange of information and message between an organization and other organizations, groups or individual outside its formal structure.

OBJECTIVE OF EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

The objectives of external communication are as follows:

1. Community relations: Every business organization has to maintain a relation with the common people of the society so as to achieve the organizational goals.

2. Collection of information: The main objective of the communication is to collect the information from outside the organization.

3. Contracts with customers: Every organization should know the taste, liking and disliking of its customers to increase the sale of its products or services. So this communication is necessary to contract with customers

4. Relationship with suppliers: Every organization has many suppliers form that it collects raw material or finished goods to run the business. So there must be a good relationship between the firm and the suppliers.

5. Relationship with institutions: One of the most important objectives of communications is to keep a link with banks, insurance and other financial institutions.

6. Relationship with the government: Every organization should obey the rules and regulations of the government. So, through communication it can keep the relation with government agencies.

Is Questioning a Critical Communication Skill?

I love the Polaroid story! Back in the 1940s, Edwin Land was on vacation with his 3-year-old daughter. He snapped a photograph of her, using a standard camera. She wanted to see the results right away, not understanding that the film must be sent off for processing. She asked, “Why do we have to wait for the picture?” This simple question led Land to ponder about the possibility of developing film inside the camera. Then he spent a long time figuring out how. This quest led to the birth of the Polaroid instant camera. Land brought the darkroom into the camera.

Warren Berger in his bestselling new book, ‘A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas’, talks about the Zen principle of “shoshin”. This term means that a beginner’s mind is devoid of bias and is “open to all possibilities” and “can see things as they are.” Shoshin helps one to have a childlike curiosity and take each situation for what it is rather than allowing past experiences to impact perception. Being in this state allows the observer to ask questions that will further open up possibilities. Steve Jobs is an excellent example of this ability to envision possibilities and opportunities in situations or events that others think are commonplace.

Questioning is a key skill that is needed in this ever-changing and innovation-charged business world today. This skill can be developed by using questions to challenge not only the perspectives of others but also that of your own. Questions provide data that put you on a path of thinking that is very different to your own. The most important part of questioning is that you should be open to asking questions and also to embrace the unusual answers. Allow the answers that are completely illogical to linger in your mind long enough till it provides you clarity on when it does not serve you anymore. Practicing this will push the boundaries of possibilities!

Questioning skills is an important part of good communication. There are several different types of questions that you can use to collect information. This is a key focus of communication training programs.

The key to both answering and framing questions is preparation, which leads to a systematic process of thinking. Properly asked and answered questions lead to more effective communication. As a general rule, it is good to start conversations with open-ended questions, as these will provide you a lot of information. Towards the end of a conversation, close-ended questions will serve to establish the action items agreed upon. Diligent use of these two types of questions in a business environment will have significant impact on the efficacy of business communication.

Effective Communication Skills for Conducting Meetings

Meetings cover three main areas of responsibility: (1) to provide the policy and procedures; (2) to organize and run the meeting within its standing orders and formalities; (3) to expect the members participating in the decision making and initiating and implementing actions within the meeting’s areas of expertise and interest. When these three areas of responsibility are implemented consistently, meetings will become effective because the executive and members will get the opportunity to create new ideas, solve problems and make democratic decisions.

Most managers spend large amounts of time in meetings with their subordinates and company officials. They work as members of cross-functional work teams or as participants in special task forces. Conducting productive meetings is a recurring major challenge to many managers. Many meetings are simple information sharing sessions. The information can then better be disseminated by a short memo or a quick telephone call. Many other meetings are conducted to solve complicated problems while basic fact-finding and research has not been finalized.

The first step in conducting quality meetings is to ensure that the information provided is the appropriate vehicle for the type of communication required.

Effective Communication Skills for Conducting Meetings

1. Distribute the agenda of the meeting before the session starts. A memo is usually distributed among the participants containing the topics which will be discussed in the meeting session. Give all the participants a chance to share ideas about the topics which will be discussed during the meeting. Avoid determining too many topics for discussion. Be consistent with what you want to discuss in a particular meeting.

2. Invite all the relevant participants and decision makers. They will play an important role in the end decisions of the meeting in question.

3. Choose a suitable place for the meeting. Try to find a large place with the proper atmosphere and comfort. The right place will facilitate the exchange of messages and provide you the opportunity to say what is necessary.

4. Choose chairs with soft cushions with sufficient lighting.

5. Make minutes of the meeting and distribute it to the participants after the meeting. Important aspects before a meeting

Determine whether the issues at stake deserve to be solved.

• Are those issues important enough?

• Do we have enough resources and time to solve those issues?

• Are willing to allocate our resources and time to solve those issues?

Explain the purpose of the meeting.

• Why do we have to discuss these issues?

• What do we expect from this meeting?

• What are our roles in the attempts to achieve the targets expected?

• What do we expect from this meeting in connection with the relationships we have with outsiders?

Prepare yourself.

• What kind of problem do I have in mind and why?

• How can I express the problem in question?

• Is the problem caused by others?

• Do I have the willingness to listen to the other participants in the meeting?

• How do I feel about the problem? How do the others feel about the problem? Can we control our emotions when talking about it?

Approach the others.

• Contact the others and determine a neutral place to have a meeting.

• Ask whether all concerned can attend the meeting at a certain time and place.

Important aspects during a meeting

• Treat everybody with respect.

• Be honest.

• Listen to other views and understand why their views are important to them

• Explain your views and wants.

• Control your emotions. Take a break if necessary.

• Be patient. The discussion might be going in circles at times. Try to listen more carefully.

• Brainstorm. Share your ideas to fulfill the needs of all.

• Make a decision supported by everyone and make a plan of implementation.

Important aspects after a meeting

• Make minutes to record the joint decisions made during the meeting.

• In case the meeting did not produce a joint decision, plan the next meeting. Note down what has been discussed and what still needs to be discussed in a next meeting. This is important to avoid repetition of the same discussions in a next meeting.

• Make an agenda for the next meeting.

• In case crucial joint decisions have been made, evaluate those decisions. Monitor the implementation of the decisions. In case of deviations make necessary corrections or conduct an emergency meeting.