One of the first principles of effective communication is to consider your audience. This applies equally to written communications, such as emails and letters, and to verbal communications, such as meetings and presentations. Here are some important questions to ask yourself about your audience.
Do they have the same technical understanding as you?
If you’re an electrical engineer talking to another electrical engineer, you’re probably safe to assume your audience will know most of the technical terms and acronyms you use. However, if you’re addressing a general audience or one with multiple disciplines, avoid using highly specialized terms unless you’re sure they’ll be understood.
Do they have context?
It’s easy to forget that not everyone is part of the same project as you or understands what you’re working on. When you ask someone for information or help, don’t assume they know why you’re asking – explain yourself briefly first.
Do they have the same cultural background as you?
The modern workplace is diverse. Phrases and expressions that are common where you come from might be baffling to someone from a different background. In particular, jokes that seem funny or harmless to you could be misunderstood or even offensive to others. Use humour sparingly and with caution.
Do they communicate like you do?
Everyone has his or her own style of communicating. Some people are “email people,” others prefer phone calls or face-to-face conversations. Get to know your coworkers’ preferences and abide by them.