Choosing the Appropriate Communication Vehicle for Your Team

Updated: Nov 5

During the pandemic, we've shifted the majority of our communication to virtual. However, several leaders have told me that their virtual communication vehicles are being abused. People are relentlessly spamming teammates on instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. Zoom meetings are near-constant and at times overwhelming. To communicate effectively in today's world, it will help to choose the appropriate communication vehicle for your team. Here are the pros and cons of four virtual communication vehicles and when best to choose them.

Virtual Meetings

Pros:

You can see each other and talk verbally, in real-time. Virtual meetings are a partial replacement for in-person meetings. They don't fully recreate it but in the absence of being able to meet in person, they are helpful.

Cons:

Virtual meetings take up valuable time that could be spent on other things. People are Zoom fatigued. 

When to choose:

For decision making, major updates, aligning the team on priorities.

Email

Pros:

Emails can convey information clearly and reduce the need for meetings.

Cons:

Volume! Email overload is a problem for many professionals.

When to choose:

For information sharing that does not require a meeting. If you need a permanent location to store information, such as a team or company wiki, fantastic. Use that instead of email.

Instant Messaging

Pros:

Instant messaging cuts down on email volume. Some teams report a significant productivity boost from using tools like Slack because it's easy to quickly go back and forth.

Cons:

These tools can interrupt you from your current focus. You pay a big tax to constantly context-switch from the important thing you're working on to the (often unimportant) notification from Slack tugging your attention.

When to choose:

For quick back-and-forth syncing or support on a task.

Phone Call

Pros:

Phone calls give people a break from video conferencing. A call allows you to move around or go for a walk while you talk, which is good for your mental health. 

Cons:

You can't see the person and may miss out on visual cues. Phone calls don't work as well in groups as they do for 1:1 meetings.

When to choose:

When you need balance or a break from Zoom. Use phone calls for some 1:1 meetings.

** Bonus tip **

When using any of these communication vehicles, avoid being on page nine of a one-page story. We often over-communicate and allow others to over-communicate, especially in meetings and emails.


Tell people what they need to know, not everything you know. Politely interrupt those in meetings who are on page nine to get back on track. You will free up a lot of valuable time for yourself and your team.