Your Guide to Synchronous Communication

Leverage synchronous communication to engage remote team members and in-person meeting attendees. Plus, get 6 tips.

While synchronous communication may seem like second nature to some, many people fail to harness it correctly. In this article, we’ll teach you the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication while covering the many benefits of synchronous communication and outlining tips for effectively communicating synchronously. 

What is synchronous communication? 

Synchronous communication is a communication type that takes place in real time between two or more people. Unlike asynchronous communication, synchronous communication occurs during a live interaction. If you’ve ever attended a video call, met with your colleagues in a boardroom, or even taken a regular phone call, you’ve participated in synchronous communication. 

Synchronous communication was once the most popular form of communication, used largely in corporate environments or more specifically, brick and mortar organizations. The rise of remote work continues to put synchronous communication on the back burner. Instead, colleagues are choosing to leverage a variety of asynchronous communication methods to keep in touch. 

Host productive synchronous meetings

Increase meeting engagement and productivity with a collaborative agenda that the whole team can contribute to. Try using a tool like Fellow!

Synchronous vs. asynchronous communication 

There are a few key differences between synchronous and asynchronous communication, with the most prominent being that synchronous communication occurs in real-time and asynchronous communication does not. Because synchronous communication occurs in real-time, it’s more dynamic and makes it easier to get immediate feedback. Synchronous communication is also great for brainstorming or hosting in-depth conversations with a small group of participants. 

Unlike synchronous communication, asynchronous communication takes place over a period of time. Communication is not instant, and participants instead reply or respond at their earliest convenience. Asynchronous communication usually takes place via a third-party platform like Slack or email. Both synchronous and asynchronous communication are beneficial when used in the right scenarios. 

The benefits of synchronous communication 

Synchronous communication is arguably one of the most efficient modes of communication. While synchronous communication isn’t suited for every situation, it does prove to be beneficial when all parties involved are seeking an immediate resolution. Aside from leading to real-time resolutions, synchronous communication can even allow for more in-depth interactions overall. 

The additional benefits of synchronous communication include, but are not limited to, that this kind of communication: 

  • Is human friendly 
  • Streamlines feedback 
  • Is useful during a crisis 
  • Improves collaboration 
  • Is optimal for brainstorming
  • Creates a sense of togetherness 
  • Increases employee engagement 
  • Helps resolve problems quickly and efficiently 

When you should use synchronous communication 

1During one-on-ones 

One-on-one meetings are best held synchronously, largely because you want to be able to foster a live conversation during these interactions. Meeting in real time, whether in person or via video call, is imperative when hosting a one-on-one. One-on-ones may be the only opportunity you have to connect with your teammates or direct reports, so taking the time to have a genuine, real-time conversation where both parties are able to communicate back and forth is extremely important. Meeting synchronously will allow both parties to chat, ask questions, and discuss any successors or failures while receiving immediate feedback or guidance. 

2During team-building activities

Team building can be difficult to do asynchronously, especially if your team already works asynchronously and rarely has the opportunity to bond or get to know each other in real time. To cultivate genuine human-to-human connections, it’s best to host any team-building activities synchronously. But, just because your team will be bonding synchronously doesn’t mean any activities have to be done in person. Instead, your team can host virtual watercooler chats, participate in virtual escape rooms, or play online video games together. 

3When onboarding new employees

Starting a new job can be intimidating and sometimes overwhelming—even more so if you’re working remotely and haven’t had the opportunity to meet your team or learn the inner workings of your organization. To make your new teammates feel welcome and comforted, it’s best to onboard them synchronously. Communicating with them in real time will help them feel reassured and at ease. If they have a question or need additional information, they’ll be able to reach out and be reassured immediately. 

4When there is a crisis

It’s no secret that tensions are high in a time of crisis. When a problem arises, people want answers, and they want them immediately. There may not be time to send an email and wait for a response or to chat back and forth via a messenger portal like Slack. In a time of crisis, it’s always best to practice synchronous communication. This way, you can collaborate and come up with a solution in a timely manner. Communicating synchronously will make it possible for you to work out any kinks and come to a solution as soon as possible. 

6 tips for effective synchronous communication 

1Use a meeting management tool

Using a meeting management tool for synchronous communication is a must. When you meet synchronously, you run the risk of getting off topic or taking too much time out of your teammates’ schedules. A proper meeting management tool will ensure everyone knows what to expect, what to talk about, when the meeting is, as well as what follow-up action items resulted from the meeting. Without a meeting management tool, you may run the risk of hosting a chaotic, unorganized meeting.

Meeting management tools like Fellow make it possible for teams to have productive meetings by enabling team members to build collaborative agendas, record decisions, and hold each other accountable. In short, you won’t have to worry about a chatty Kathy taking over your meeting, or your more reserved teammates not having the opportunity to speak. 

Additionally, meeting with Fellow: 

  • Fosters accountability 
  • Means more effective meetings 
  • Encourages continuous improvement 
  • Streamlines important conversations across the entire company 

2Use a meeting agenda 

Creating a thorough meeting agenda is the key to facilitating a successful synchronous meeting.

Not only does a meeting agenda help everyone in attendance stay on track, but it also acts as a set of guidelines for the facilitator and all attendees. Not having an agenda is the number one cause for a meeting that goes awry. Gone are the days of attending a meeting that runs 40 minutes over time! A meeting agenda is the quickest way to ensure your meeting doesn’t run over time or cut into anyone’s personal time. 

3Foster rapport with team-building exercises

Team-building activities can be a great way to build trust and rapport amongst teammates. Effective team-building activities strengthen collaboration and help to avoid internal competition; they also help foster a productive work culture by encouraging team members to embrace each other’s core strengths and weaknesses. If you wish to run a successful synchronous meeting, hosting some team-building exercises can be an excellent way to get everyone involved and to break the ice.

4Try to meet in person

While synchronous meetings can be held virtually via video conferencing software or telephones, they work best when done in person. Meeting in person makes it possible to form deep-rooted working relationships while getting to know your colleagues on a more personal level. If your team works primarily remotely, you may want to consider mixing things up and planning an offsite, in-person meeting. The benefits of synchronous, in-person meetings are second to none! 

5Choose the best video conferencing tool for your team

If you can’t meet in person for your synchronous meetings, meeting virtually via your favorite video conferencing tool is the next best thing. To make things easier, you can even integrate your conferencing tool of choice into Fellow to streamline your workflows. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams can all be integrated into Fellow to level up your next synchronous meeting.

6Do a technology check before the meeting

Picture this: you’ve taken the time to plan a meeting with multiple teammates and you’ve worked hard to build a comprehensive meeting agenda. You’ve prepared as well as you can, but when you go to begin the meeting something’s off. You can’t login or your sound won’t work. Now, not only have you failed to host the meeting, but you’ve also taken time out of everyone’s day that they can’t get back—not to mention the time they’ll have to commit after you’ve rescheduled the meeting. Doing a quick technology check before each meeting will ensure your synchronous meetings go off without a hitch! 

Are you ready to take your synchronous communication to the next level?

Learning how to communicate effectively in the workplace is an invaluable skill. Not only are effective communicators better leaders when compared to their counterparts, but they’re also more productive and less likely to run into conflicts. Leveraging these tips, tricks, and best practices will ensure you’re communicating at the top of your game from here on out.

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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with startups, small business owners, and large organizations. Presently, Hannah serves as the Founder at Flamingo Social where she strives to create impactful organic content marketing strategies that help founders tell inspiring stories.

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