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Business Communication: Fitting the Message to Channel


The fact is that that the allover communication process is the transmission of a message from one person to another, which is aimed at sharing thoughts, considerations, opinions, and facts. As for the business communication process, and the messages, the issues of proper selection of the communication channel for a particular message are generally regarded as half of the success of business communication. Originally, it can link ideas and considerations with things. It may be aimed at delivering news and facts, sharing knowledge and experience. The main aim of this paper is to discuss the types of business communication, the types of messages that generally flow through these channels, and explain the importance of selecting the proper channel.

Business Communication Channels

First of all, it should be stated that the communication channels, which are used for business communication by the organization are the following: e-mail, fax, intranet, company publications, face-to-face meetings, and video conferencing. E-mails are generally used for communication with people who are in the other time zone, thus, they will have an opportunity to get the message. Faxes are not so comfortable for communication, as it is a less reliable channel, and, fax is difficult to use for abroad messaging. Intranet is the system of internal communication within a team. Face-to-face meetings are regarded to be one of the most important communication channels, as the aims of this communication entail not only fact communication but also motivation, encouragement, and criticism, which are more effective when face-to-face communication is resorted to. Video conferencing is similar to a face-to-face meeting, however, the distinctions are obvious.

Originally, the aim of these channels does not differ from the aim of the business communication process in general. In fact, the communication process appears to be successful, only when both the sender and the receiver realizes the idea of the communication process, and get the essence of the transmitted message. (Dieterich and Bowman, 2002, p. 345)

The channels, which are used by the organization, have various purposes. Thus, the information which may be sent via e-mail, will not be communicated face-to-face. Video conferencing channel is not suitable for communicating the information for company publications, etc. Nevertheless, the channels may be combined for more complete and allover communication: after sending an e-mail with documents, the detail of the message may be discussed face-to-face. Moreover, the purposes of these channels may be also divided into formal and formal, thus, the same communication channel may be used for various purposes, depending on the key mission of business communication.

Schematically, the communication may be represented in the following graph (Eckhouse, 2005, p. 194)

The channels, in their turn, should provide high-quality communication (=transmission) of the message. From this point of view, it should be emphasized that the business communication process depends on the selected channel. The choice will depend on the type of the message.

Types of Messages

Originally, the messages, which are communicated in the business communication process, may be divided into verbal and written. Consequently, verbal messages can not be communicated through letters, emails, memos, and reports, while written are not suitable for face-to-face meetings, telephone, and videoconferencing.

Taking into consideration the notion, that the company uses several channels of business communication, the fact that all the channels have various purposes is not doubted. The four most important channels, which are used are the following: e-mail, intranet, face-to-face meetings, and video conferencing. These four channels, which are originally 20% of the allover communication process, are used for the transmission of up to 80% of the messages and business information. (Turk and Kirkman, 2004) The fact is that the allover communication process strongly depends on the character of the messages and their purpose. The business strategy of the company presupposes the strict division of the communication process into internal and external. Internal is used for discussing the plans and purposes of the business process, identifying and solving the problems, allocating the working assignments, etc. External communication is used for keeping in touch with partners, customers, suppliers, and competitors. Thus, face-to-face meetings are rarely used for external communication, while video conferences and e-mailing are common practices for these purposes. Internal communication mostly presupposes the use of face-to-face meetings and conversations, while using video conferencing is meaningless. In the light of this fact, it is necessary to emphasize that the types of messages, which are communicated through these channels are mainly aimed at solving the business issues and are of a formal character, while informal messages and communication, in general, is rarely resorted to for discussing the business issues. (Turk and Kirkman, 2004)

Appropriate Channel Selection

As for the matters of selecting the appropriate channel for communicating the necessary message, it should be stated that this process depends not only on the character of the message but also on the circumstances and context of the message. Context is the situation, in which the message is delivered, and it defines the urgency of the message, its importance, the scale of the issue, which is included in a message, and lots of other factors and features. Independently on the instant character of the majority of the contemporary communication tools, some of them will not be used for urgent messages. Thus, e-mail users may be off-line, consequently, the urgent character of the note/letter/message will be lost. Video conferencing will not be used for an informal business chat, as the arrangement of this communication channel is costly, and requires technical maintenance, thus, it will be used only when the importance rate of communication is high. Global projects will not be discussed by fax or intranet. Fax is regarded to be the technically unreliable channel, while an intranet is used mainly for internal communication, while large-scale projects require both internal and external discussion.

The proper selection of the necessary channel is within the managers’ obligations. In the light of this fact, it should be emphasized that the selection process depends on the personal perception of the context by the manager, nevertheless, the importance of this proper selection is seriously doubted. On the one hand, it is considered that the most instant and reliable channel will suit for any communication, nevertheless, instant messaging services are rarely used in organizations. On the other hand, the matters of importance, urgency, and scale of the message are not often considered properly, and important messages and letters are sent via fax, while smeared lines are often observed, and some of the information will be lost. That would cause the essential loss of time, as the message will have to be resent.


Finally, it should be emphasized that business communication channels should be selected on the basis of several factors, such as importance, the urgency of the message, and the scale of the discussed matter. The types of communication channels presuppose various characters of the messaging, and in general, they are aimed at providing proper business communication, either internal or external. Originally, the selection of a proper channel essentially depends on the purpose of the message, nevertheless, the importance of this selection is highly important for proper communication.


Eckhouse, B. (2005). Competitive Communication: A Rhetoric for Modern Business. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dieterich, D., & Bowman, J. (2002). On Writing Well: An E-Mail Dialogue. Business Communication Quarterly, 59(3), 43

Turk, C., & Kirkman, J. (2004). Effective Writing: Improving Business Communication (2nd ed.). London: E & FN Spon.


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