Top Virtual Assistant Tools: Part 1 – Communication Tools
Table of Contents
- Why is Communication Important in Business?
- Top Virtual Team Communication Tools for Business
- Internal Communication Tools and Software
- External Communication Tools and Software
- BONUS: Grammar and Spell Check Tools
- Why are Communication Tools Important?
Communication is an essential life skill that we use every day. It is a two-way street that involves an exchange of messages between a sender and a recipient. Talking is one of the most common ways of communicating, but communication can also be conveyed non-verbally, in writing, and through behavior.
However, there are challenges when it comes to online communication. It lacks the social signals like facial expression, posture, and vocal intonation that is normally present in in-person communication that clues us in on a person’s disposition. These issues can get complicated from a business standpoint and especially when it comes to dealing with a remote staff of virtual assistants.
Communication is used for a variety of reasons. In business, it is key to the growth of an organization and reaching its goals. There are many ways that communication can be utilized to its full potential, so using it to give instructions is not enough. Apart from metrics and key performance indicators, you should also take care of the human side of the business; the employees who are the lifeblood of any organization.
The human experience is so complex that poor communication can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Its consequences can cause a negative emotional impact on anyone and it can cause low morale, mistrust, and frustration among employees in the (virtual) workplace. That is why it is more important than ever to invest in tools that improve effective communication.
Top Virtual Team Communication Tools for Business
Internal communication in business is the key to ensuring that all members are kept abreast of the goals, updates, and upcoming events of an organization. It helps connect everyone where managers and employees can keep in touch and build rapport with everyone.
Email is one of the most common communication tools in the workplace and rightfully so. Email is an accessible, cheap, and fast way to transmit information electronically. It is delivered in real-time and can be accessed from any device that is connected to the internet. Some of the most popular email services are free with limited but great features.
a. Gmail – This is Google’s email service and for the most part, it is free. There are plans you can avail of to get more storage, access to applications and third-party programs, and support.
b. Outlook – Microsoft Outlook email is free and comes with the Calendar as well as access to Office applications like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. The paid version has all the benefits of the free one, and is ad-free, has larger mailbox storage, and enhanced email security.
c. Yahoo Mail – In its heyday, Ymail used to be the most popular email service when the internet was new. Anyone can make a free account with limited storage and as of January 1, 2021, you can no longer forward emails. However, the paid Yahoo Mail Pro will give that feature back and other benefits including customer support, ad-free interface, and better overall performance.
d. ProtonMail – Its most standout feature is end-to-end encryption for email and data security but only for the paid versions. The free version only has limited storage and support, but you are free to upgrade anytime.
e. Zoho Mail – Its free plan supports multiple users, so it’s great for personal and business and includes free mobile apps and email hosting for one domain. The paid plans allow you to fully utilize its built-in collaboration tools that anyone in the organization can see and share.
An instant messaging software or app for business allows you to quickly convey urgent information to individuals and teams. This type of office communication promotes efficiency and improved collaboration because conversations happen in real-time.
a. Slack – Slack is a secure team communication and collaboration platform where organization employees can chat with one another for work. You can create channels for various projects and one-on-one and group chats for employee discussions. It can integrate workplace tools and apps, do file and media sharing, and can even do voice and video calls. Slack is free but with limited use.
b. Teams – Teams is like Slack but it has native integration for Microsoft’s Office 365. It is more convenient for an organization that uses these tools. You can get Teams for free with unlimited chat messages, audio and video calling for up to an hour, and file storage per person. If you want more, you can get the Microsoft 365 plan to unlock features including enterprise-level security, rich file collaboration, and additional storage.
c. Hangouts – This is a built-in channel for Google users and is capable of instant messaging, voice and video calls, group conferencing, and screen sharing. Anyone with a Gmail account can freely use Hangouts which is convenient.
Video conferencing allows you to have remote but face-to-face communication with colleagues. It is a useful business communication tool for virtual teams that consist of employees from different parts of the world. It helps saves time, money, and effort as it reduces the need to commute for meetings. Plus, it improves meeting attendance since most apps work on computers or any mobile device that can connect to the internet.
a. Zoom Meeting – The free version of this tool allows group meetings up to 40 minutes and hosts around 100 participants, so it is great for small businesses with a tight budget. There are multiple tiers of paid versions and each has its respective features that are beneficial for medium to large-scale businesses.
b. Meet – Formerly known as Hangouts, Meet is always free for personal use. The free version is capable of an unlimited number of meetings with participants up to a hundred. The paid versions of Google Meet accommodate more than that, plus other features like premium online support, meeting recording, attendance reports, and more.
c. Join.me – Anyone with an account can join meetings using the platform. There are three pricing tiers, and you can choose which plan to use depending on how many people will use it. With paid versions, you can unlock features such as user management, unlimited calls, toll-free numbers, recording, and more.
Project management tools help plan, organize, and manage an organization’s tasks to align them with the business’ directions and goals. These communication tools are effective for online collaboration for teams that are working in the office or from home.
a. Asana – One of the most popular team collaboration tools, Asana has plenty of useful features and advanced tools that make managing projects a breeze. Its interface is well-organized and user-friendly that you can use it right away without getting lost navigating it.
b. Trello – As a visual collaboration tool, you can use Trello to organize and manage projects in a tactile way. Users can use their respective workspaces for better task overseer or create a list of tasks. It can also provide access to several plug-ins and third-party tools.
c. Basecamp – As a collaborative communication tool, Basecamp allows you and your team to effortlessly keep track of projects. Its easy-to-use features including message boards, to-do lists, and file storage on top of the native group chat ensure that it has everything you need in one place.
In business, external communication is the transmission of a brand’s message, products, or services to the public including customers, suppliers, partners, and stakeholders. Many organizations use external communications for publicity and to boost sales.
Businesses may use both traditional and digital avenues of communication to inform an audience. Communication channels may include print media like newspapers and flyers, radio, television commercials, and through electronic communication such as websites and social media.
Correct spelling and good grammar skills are essential in business communications because it helps you convey the message concisely, thereby eliminating any chance of misunderstanding or confusion.
Obvious grammar and spelling errors can be off-putting to clients, partners, and even employees. Not everyone in the organization needs to be as articulate as a seasoned wordsmith, but you can use tools to check basic grammar and spelling before you send an email, document, or even an instant message.
There are plenty of free spellcheck and grammar tools online. Some of these tools have browser extensions or mobile versions for convenience. Grammarly, Ginger, and Hemingway are some of the most popular apps used online and in businesses.
Business communication tools are designed to convey and receive information efficiently. They are important in the workplace because organizations are made up of a few people up to a hundred teams. Working collaboratively with others is what makes businesses prosper and these tools make it possible.
This is Part 1 of our Top Virtual Assistant Tools 101 Series. Watch out for Part 2: Scheduling and Appointment Apps next month. If you want to be notified of the next installment, enter your email below to subscribe to our Virtual Staffing 101 blog series.