Communicating Effectively When Everyone is Zoomed Out

By Shawn Casemore   

Business Operations Economy Industry Aerospace Automotive Chemicals Construction Electronics Energy Food & Beverage Forestry Government Manufacturing Resource Sector Transportation communication

Recent events have increased adoption of technology to communicate by using virtual meetings.

PHOTO: fizkes / Getty Images.

Technology has definitely saved many of us during the pandemic, allowing us to communicate with employees, customers and suppliers all from the comfort of our sparse office or even home office.

There is only one problem; we stopped considering how we best communicate for the most impact. For those trying to lead a team, be they engineers, proj- ect planners or sales, there has to be more strategy about how we use technology.

There is more to life than virtual meetings. The default of sending cold emails (when spam filters are increasing and patience for cold emails are decreasing) is not the best approach. Instead, making a connection requires placing some thought (and effort) into considering how to best reach out to each and every customer.

Could we send a direct message on LinkedIn? Would a voice message, followed up with an email, make more sense?


There are plenty of tools and approaches that can be used. As the saying goes, just because you have a hammer does not mean you treat everything like a nail.

As much as the events of late have increased the adoption of using technology to communi- cate, the tendency has been to latch onto a single solution. The most common, of course, has been virtual meetings. Those meetings have taken the place of external meetings, internal meetings, desk side chats, one-on-one discussions, lunches, team building, etc.

No wonder most people are tired of virtual meetings. The suggestion is not to cancel them, but they have their place. As most people have realized, not all virtual meetings are productive, and most fail to keep the attention of almost everyone except the speaker.

A year ago, suggesting to manufacturers to incorporate more virtual meetings in their communications would have been a great recommendation. Back then, most struggled with either having too many face-to-face meetings, or not having enough.

However, due to circumstances beyond our control, many people have quickly shifted from thinking about how to incorporate virtual meetings to thinking they are the only option available. However, they are not.

There are plenty of options that can and should be used to communicate effectively. People just need to spend a little bit of time considering what the best communication tool is for their purpose. Want to send a quick message to a large group? Try a group text. Considering how to share some personal news? Send a group voice message. Want to send a personalized email with video? Check out

Virtual meetings still have a place, of course. If you need to share something visually, a virtual meeting is likely the best approach.

Five questions to effective communication

Here are five key questions for ensuring you are choosing the best approach to improve the effectiveness of your communications, both internally and externally. Ask yourself these questions to determine what the best tool or approach is for your communication to achieve its intended purpose:

1. What is the objective of my communication? What is the best possible outcome of this communication?

2.What options do I have to connect and ensure my communication objective is met? Would it be best to make a call, or would a brief video sent from my phone make more sense?

3. How will I measure the effectiveness of my communication? What will tell me my choice of tool worked or did not work?

4.If my initial approach does not work, what will my next step be? If I try the phone and do not get a response to my message, how will I proceed?

5. Conduct a survey. Ask the recipient of my message if it was the best way to communicate, or if they have other suggestions for the future.

Communication is personal. Always consider that how you prefer to receive a communication may differ from how someone else would prefer to receive the very same message.

Hopefully the world emerges from this pandemic in 2021 and gets back to some degree of normality. That said, the impact on external and internal communication has forever changed. People now have a greater willingness to accept and use technology.

As such, people need to take the time to consider the best approach to achieve their objective. Just because you have a hammer does not mean you should not put it down and go find a wrench, if the wrench would be better suited for the job.


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