Assessing the Message
Once you have a solid understanding of the audience, you should analyze the message to determine what media is best for the delivery of the message. Considerations include:
The length of a message influences the appropriateness of a medium. Many technologies are suitable for short messages, and limit message length. Media that limit the length of messages include:
- Micro blogging systems with character limitations.
- Website contact forms with character restrictions.
- Voicemail systems.
- Comment boxes.
Most media geared toward shorter messages are asynchronous, and often only intended for one-way communication.
Media that support longer messages may be preferred for the following types of messages:
- Formal communications in which abbreviations may be discouraged.
- Messages with crucial details that could be missed easily in a small-capacity system.
- Interactive communications in which message length is variable.
Messages that are complex or critical often require more sophisticated media. They may require media that has the following capabilities:
- Visuals, such as:
- Audio, including:
- Sound effects.
- Multimedia, such as:
- Presentations and voice.
- Video and audio.
- Haptics and audio.
- Reliable delivery. This may include:
- A system that provides notification that the message has been delivered.
- Email, which has a greater probability of being delivered than a text message.
- Synchronous communication systems that permit immediate feedback from the recipient.
Many communications involve interactive participation, such as that which takes place in:
- Business meetings.
- Brainstorming sessions.
- Training events.
- Sales presentations.
In these situations, the preferred media will provide:
- An easy interface to support novice users.
- Multimedia to support the different communication needs of the participants.
- Technical support for synchronous communications to insure the communication flows well and attention is not diverted by technical difficulties.
Interactivity may be synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous media may be preferred when:
- There are time constraints.
- The participants need or want a "human" connection.
- Messages may be easily misunderstood and need to be corrected right away.
Asynchronous media, such as discussion forums, are preferred in some situations because they:
- Allow participants to think through thoughts fully before sharing.
- Allow quiet people the opportunity to speak out.
- Prevent aggressive speakers from dominating the conversation.
Regardless of whether the communication is synchronous or asynchronous, any medium that excludes video and voice can:
- Eliminate societal biases based on race, sex, stature, etc.
- Eliminate nonverbal messages.
Privacy and Security Considerations
A message that is confidential should not be sent through a nonsecure media without prior consent. These messages may include:
- Bank and financial communications.
- Hiring, firing, and discipline issues.
- Information controlled under regulations such as:
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- Trade secrets.
- Relationship issues.
If there is any concern about the possibility of communications being intercepted through media, the parties should discuss the matter and agree on a method that makes sense to each of them.
The most secure systems usually include some form of access identification. Examples include:
- Internal email systems.
- Password-protected conferencing systems.
- Peer-to-peer file sharing systems.
- Websites that require accounts secured by passwords.
On websites, a secure site can be determined by a URL that includes "HTTPS," rather than "HTTP."
Finally, the urgency of a message must be considered. Synchronous communication should take place if a message:
- Needs to be delivered right away.
- Requires an immediate response.
- Must be interpreted very accurately.
Should the only media available be asynchronous:
- The person delivering the message should specifically request immediate feedback.
- Continued prompting for feedback may be required.
- One might consider sending the message through multiple communication channels to insure the message has been received.