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How to communicate online effectively

In recent times much of our communication has moved online. And with the loss of non-verbal cues and sometimes, vocal cues, the chances for miscommunication has increased. But how can we ensure we communicate effectively online. Here are eight tips for communicating effectively online. 

TIP 1: Use text formatting correctly

When we write messages or emails to our clients, the way we format the text can add to the tone of the message. Let’s take a look at an example sentence formatted in different ways.


I NEED the report TODAY

I need the report today

I need the report today :)

I need the report today.

With these different formats, we may experience the messages in different ways. If we write the full message in capital letters it may sound like we are shouting at someone. If we underline a word, it may add to the urgency of the message. If we add an emoticon, it may add a different tone to the message. Therefore it is crucial to consider the text formatting you want to use to convey the right tone for your message.

TIP 2: Don’t text in anger

Before you reply to a message, especially if the message has made you angry, pause. Walk away from your device and calm down. Then come back and reply to the message. If you answer in anger, you may cause more problems before coming to a solution that will benefit both of you.

TIP 3: Be aware of word clutter

Many people write a long-winded answer when a simple “yes” or “no” would suffice. Try to cut out most of your adverbs and trim out information that is not relevant to the reply or which would be better put in a separate email.

TIP 4: Choose your medium of communication wisely

Our email boxes are sometimes overflowing with mails that need to be replied to. If your message would be better sent through an instant messaging app, or a phone call do it. If you want someone to mull over a proposal then maybe an email might be better. Think about the result you wish to achieve with your message and use the medium best suited to get that result.

TIP 5: Set up ground rules

This is especially important during video and voice calls with multiple people. Here are a few rules to consider:

  • Mute your microphone when not speaking: This will prevent your background noise from interrupting the other person who is speaking.
  • Use the raised hand icon: If you have a thought you want to add to a conversation, raise your hand. You can do this visually if your video is on or you can use the icon in the system you are using.
  • Use the chat sparingly: Oftentimes the chat box will be cluttered with spam messages from the attendees especially if it is a conference and this can disturb the presenter and fellow attendees. Ensure the messages you put in the chat add value to the conversation being had.

TIP 6: Be more polite

With the lack of body language to help support your message, you need to be more polite. Use “please” and “thank you”. By asking politely and thanking people if they agree to what you ask, you will help to build a positive online persona.

TIP 7: Watch your tone

Messaging and social media can cause that we use a more friendly and casual tone with our customers. This is can be good especially when we use the same words our clients use when thinking or speaking about our brand but we need to be careful when we use this tone on serious matters. For serious matters, it may be called for to use a more formal and business tone. This will ensure that the message is conveyed correctly.

TIP 8: Use the correct grammar and spelling

Making a slip in your grammar and spelling can lead to a message being understood differently. If we look at this sentence: “Let’s eat grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma”. In the first example, we are going to eat grandma for our meal and in the second one, we are asking grandma to come to the table so we can eat. In this case, grammar saves lives. One book to consider to help improve your grammar is “the elements of style” by William Strunk Jr. And E.B. White.

By following these eight tips, you will be well on your way to communicating more effectively online.

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