Tips for online communication

Here are some key guidelines to help you when communicating online. 

These are important because, unlike a face-to-face conversation, the internet creates a permanent record of your communication. Online interactions can also lack the non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and tone of voice, which help you understand others and be understood. Some things to remember when communicating online (select each item for more information):

woman at computer

Be polite and respectful

  • Address recipients by their full first name in written communication.
  • Acknowledge other people’s privacy and respect their time. Check the calendars and online statuses of your WIL colleagues to acknowledge their privacy and availabilities. 
  • Include simple greetings and salutations to make others feel safe and respected.
man on tablet

Be aware of how your communication might be understood by others

  • Do not be afraid to use visuals (e.g. online whiteboard, sharing screens in video conferences) if it gives clarity to your message.
  • Ensure your communication is clear and concise.
  • Take the time to check that people have understood your message. If you are in a video conference, for example, summarise follow up actions from the meeting before it ends to ensure you are clear about expectations.
woman on phone taking notes

Be careful with your tone

  • When writing communication, write in a style suitable to your audience, avoid excessive jargon and proofread your writing before sending.
  • Humour and sarcasm can be risky and should only be used with caution in professional communication.
man on tablet taking notes

Think about who else might read or see what you have shared with someone

  • Once you have shared something online it can be easily shared with others so be cautious when sharing confidential information.
  • Do not include gossip or hearsay in professional communications, instead keep communication focused on your task and problem solving.
  • Using email to be critical can be problematic because people will re-read the note many times.
man on computer and phone

Be tolerant of others

  • Remember that not everyone knows how to communicate online and may not realise that they have upset someone else.
  • Learn how to plan for and carry out a difficult conversation by providing clear and actionable feedback, even when it is difficult for you.
woman on ipad

Make sure that you are using the correct communication tool for the type of interaction

  • Sometimes it may be better to make a phone call to get a quick response to a problem.
  • Consider whether you need an urgent and quick response, or would prefer a more thought through response and have the time to wait.  Plan for your communication.


Undertaking WIL in an Online Environment

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