Comparing Communication Tools

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of various tool categories

These choices can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not a technology nerd. In order to get past the panic and make some good decisions, the first thing to do is ask yourself some questions about what you want to achieve in a particular communication situation. Consider three general topics:

  • What’s the purpose of the communication? What business goal do I need to achieve?
  • Who is my audience / cohort for this communication?
    • How many people need to be involved?
    • How do they function as a group?
    • How comfortable are they with technology?
    • What technology do we already share?
  • What do I need to show or talk through?
    • If this were an in-person meeting, would I want a white board? A flipchart? A projector?
    • Do I have samples to show?
    • Do I need to demonstrate a product or process?

Since technology can be tricky—especially if you and your team are using a particular platform for the first time—a good general rule is to ask, “What’s the simplest technology I can use and still achieve my goals?”

A diagram comparing different modes of communication technology. The difference types of technology that are being compared, are conversations via landline, conversations via cell, a VOIP call, video conferencing, web conferencing with screen sharing, and multi-feature online communication platforms.

Figure 1. Click for a larger version of this image.

We will talk in more detail about each of these issues in the sections to follow.

Practice Question