Your manager drops by your desk and asks you to join them for a brainstorming session. You communicate your ideas and opinions to your entire team. Now, imagine yourself in another situation—a business meeting where you’re meeting international clients. The way you pitch your thoughts, beliefs and opinions will be different from the way you communicate with your team.
These are some basic examples of internal and external communication and how differently they work. Businesses thrive on effective communication, which is why understanding the difference between the two is crucial.
The Difference Between Internal And External Communication
Before we explore the key differences between internal and external communication, let’s first understand what each of these terms means.
Internal communication refers to information sharing and exchange between members within an organization. It’s exclusive to coworkers, colleagues or anyone who’s a part of an organization. It’s often referred to as a business tool as it helps employees work effectively and efficiently. Memos, circulars and meeting minutes are a few examples of internal communication.
This type of communication can be further categorized into:
Communication between individuals working across different functional or hierarchical levels in an organization
Communication between individuals working across the same functional or hierarchical levels in an organization
External communication, on the other hand, refers to sharing or exchanging information between an organization and another individual or entity. Individuals within an organization may have access to the information but it’s intended for an external audience. External entities include clients, customers, investors and suppliers.
External communication is of two types:
Helps enhance brand image through reports, press releases and newsletters
It’s spontaneous and is often the result of unofficial personal interaction
Both internal communication and external communication are the cornerstones of business growth and success. It’s the connections you build that helps you drive efficiency and productivity at the workplace. Nonetheless, there lies a fundamental difference between internal and external communication. Let’s explore the difference in detail.
Information exchange among an organization’s members
Information exchange with entities beyond the organization
Emails, meetings, presentation
Advertisements, social media, press release
Occurs regularly; often on an everyday basis
Occurs frequently but less than internal communication
Members and management
Shareholders, customers, clients, investors
Limited only to the organization
Covers the whole business environment
The Importance Of Internal And External Communication
The main function of business communication is to eliminate silos at the workplace and encourage individuals to collaborate and cooperate to formulate creative business solutions. Therefore, effective internal communication and external communication are essential for enhancing business performance. Despite their differences, there are several commonalities and their alignment helps create a positive work environment. Here are the various similarities that also double as advantages
Both lead to an organization’s growth and productivity because of improved interpersonal networks and increased engagement
Communication is a two-way street and regular feedback and exchanges help in quality check and delivery
It brings together multiple people from various walks of life—with diverse perspectives and outlooks to share their ideas and thoughts—leading to creative problem-solving
Alignment between internal and external communication is absolutely crucial. Here are multiple reasons why you should be equally mindful of both.
Oftentimes, employees don’t understand the organizational strategy and direction. When there is synergy between internal and external communication, employees understand how the business expansion is taking place. It provides them with clarity and inspires them to drive peak performance.
When it comes to brand communication, people within and beyond the organization are equally important. For example, dissatisfied employees may complain about their time in the organization and it negatively affects the reputation. There should be clarity and transparency when it comes to communicating with employees and external entities.
Without coordination between internal and external communication, organizations can’t fulfill their business expectations. For example, user insights about an organization’s product or service should be communicated with the product team for making necessary changes. A communication gap may lead users to lose faith in the product.
If you’re looking to enhance your communication skills for effective internal and external engagements, Harappa’s Speaking Effectively course has your back! Powerful frameworks such as the PAM—Purpose, Audience and Message—will teach you how to present your ideas clearly and compellingly. Deliver ideas with precision, use empathy and logic to connect with others, and stand out as an effective speaker everyone wants to listen to.
Explore topics such as What is Internal Communication, How To Build An External Communication Strategy, The Need For Business Communication & The Different Channels of Communication to deliver information with impact and clarity.
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