There are so many digital channels available today, are the benefits of face to face communication being overtaken? Have opportunities to communicate directly with others, in person, become so outdated that they are no longer relevant?
This is a topic that I have often heard discussed by communication professionals in recent years. As with so many things in life, there are good arguments both for and against face to face communication. Of course, there are technical solutions such as Skype, FaceTime and video conferencing that can allow us to communicate in person without having to actually be in the same room. But people on the ‘It’s old-fashioned’ side of the debate will still tell you that it’s unnecessary and using messaging apps, digital boards and collaboration technology is a far better option.
Have you tried talking to them?
During my career I have often been faced with colleagues and clients saying to me ‘I need to communicate my project to [such and such a team or group of people]’ so I have regularly found myself saying ‘have you thought about talking to them face to face?’ At first I felt a bit silly saying it because it seems so obvious, but I’ve come to realise that’s often the point – it is so obvious that it can be overlooked.
Of course, just because it’s obvious and simple, that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. People sometimes shy away from talking to others because it can be difficult, especially if it’s a controversial topic or a challenging group. But I believe that if you’re brave enough to give it a go – and sensible enough to plan and rehearse as much as possible beforehand – talking directly to others can be a fantastic opportunity to get your message across, listen to feedback and iron out potential misunderstandings before they even arise.
Cut to the chase
A few years ago my then-7-year-old daughter drew me a picture for my office wall. It shows Communication Guy, a super hero with a cape that has a picture of 2 people talking to each other on it. I love the way it conveys the simple truth that more often than not you can’t beat a conversation for effectively communicating. Kids have a great way of cutting to the chase, asking the tricky questions and getting to the heart of the matter without unnecessary complications.
However, all things in moderation. There are plenty of situations where face to face communication isn’t always appropriate – for example, if you have people in many locations or working different shift patterns, you might not be able to get them all together at once; if you need to get a message out immediately, it might take too much time to organise a face to face meeting.
I recommend making sure that face to face communication is part of your channel mix, alongside a whole variety of others, so that you have got all possibilities covered.
How do you use face to face communication at your organisation? If you’d like help with deciding how to include it in your channel mix, please get in touch.
Until next time