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Choosing The Best Communication Channel
When to use Slack/Teams, Email, Confluence, Notion, or Face-to-Face Meetings
Communicating effectively is a critical part of your role as a product manager. However, with so many communication channels available, it can be challenging to determine which one to use for each scenario. The right way to communicate depends on the company culture and your personal relationships, but this article contains generally accepted heuristics.
Let’s get started with the
Is it urgent? ➡️ Preferably Slack/Teams
Let's start with the most common scenario - an urgent matter. If something requires immediate attention, the best way to communicate is through instant messaging platforms like Slack or Teams.
Is it a long message? ➡️ Preferably Email
If your message is more detailed and requires more context, email is your best bet. Emails give you the space to explain your thoughts thoroughly, without worrying about character limits. You can also easily attach files.
Is it a very long document? ➡️ Preferably Confluence/Notion
When you have a long document that needs to be shared with multiple team members, Confluence or Notion is the best way to go. These platforms are designed specifically for long-form documentation and allow for easy collaboration and sharing. The document will also be searchable and can be found easily at a later time.
Is it personal? ➡️ Preferably Face to Face
If your message is personal and sensitive, face-to-face communication is the way to go. This includes video meetings as well. Face-to-face communication allows you to read body language, tone, and facial expressions, which can help you understand how the other person is feeling.
Will it involve a discussion to gather insights? ➡️ Preferably Confluence/Notion
When you need to gather insights and feedback from your team, Confluence or Notion can help. You can create a page with your initial thoughts and ideas and invite team members to add their feedback and suggestions. This can help you make a more informed decision. Keep in mind that not all companies are ready for asynchronous discussion.
Will it involve a difficult discussion to make a decision? ➡️ Preferably Face to Face (but with preparation)
If you have a difficult decision to make that requires discussion and debate, face-to-face communication is still the best way to go. However, it's essential to prepare for the meeting by outlining your thoughts and ideas beforehand.
Does it include creativity/brainstorming/etc? ➡️ Preferably Face to Face, maybe combined with Miro/Mural
If you're brainstorming or need to be creative, face-to-face communication is ideal. You can use tools like Miro or Mural to help facilitate brainstorming sessions and allow everyone to contribute their ideas visually.
Level of Trust and Connection
How much connection and trust is there between me and the recipient? Tend to the longer form, and explain more
It's essential to consider the relationship you have with the information recipient. If you have a strong connection and trust with the person, you can communicate quickly. If the level of trust and mutual connection is comparatively low, a longer-form communication may be more appropriate. This way, you can make sure that your message of properly understood and you can prevent misunderstandings.
Of course, there are combinations of these criteria that can come into play.
For example, if you plan something big and involve others in decision-making, you may want to prepare a Confluence or Notion document and include it in a meeting invitation. This way, everyone can prepare and come to the meeting with their thoughts and ideas. After the meeting, people can work asynchronously in the Confluence or Notion document, and the decision can be reached asynchronously or with another short meeting.
If you need to communicate something with background information, but it needs to be quick, you can write an email with details and post a link or reference to the appropriate Slack or Teams channel.
When you have a detailed discussion that needs to be documented, it's best to discuss face-to-face, then make meeting notes in Confluence or Notion. Finally, share the notes or a link to them via Slack or Teams so everyone can access them easily.
Remember, each communication channel has its strengths and weaknesses, and the key is to choose the one that best fits the scenario at hand.
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What I read
This is separate section of this newsletter. I will list some of the best articles I read on the internet. They may or may not be related to the topic of this article. I will keep a list of the best articles (currently >650) at https://www.digital-product-management.com. These are today’s picks:
Path from “The Problem” to “Viable Business Model”: What needs to be true for a problem to present a viable business model?
Common but Avoidable Career-Limiting Mistakes: A list of 11 mistakes that limit your career.
Fixing an underperforming product team: Some of the actions you might take to put a team back on track.