How not to miss important messages in group conversations

Natasa Milojevic

Last updated on: January 20, 2022

When Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, he was certainly not referring to our never-ending attempts to keep up with the all-emerging changes in popular communication practices. After all, he could not have possibly predicted the rising popularity of virtual communication the world is experiencing today. Yet, his wise words back up the theory that a little preparation goes a long way, whichever the occasion. When dealing with frequent unmet expectations regarding the transmission of the information at the workplace, it’s not uncommon to overlook the importance of anticipating a problem before it ensues. This is especially true if your organization is trying to balance multiple communication tools. You end up toggling between various tabs and tools, troubled by the idea that you might miss important messages in group conversations. 

However, if we invest time and effort into maintaining timely communication, staying on track with daily tasks becomes impossible. Usually, the everlasting loop of incoming notifications diverts you from getting the work done. Is it possible to make the most out of your collaboration software and still keep your productivity levels within the optimal range? Let’s take a closer look at Pumble and go over some actionable guidelines to help you manage all — a timely response, peace of mind, and a well-deserved lunch break. 

How not to miss important messages

A handful of tools keep the babble at bay 

How many times a day have you found yourself trying to coordinate responding to emails, answering phone calls, attending virtual check-ins, all while simultaneously keeping up with all the deadlines? While it may appear that the company’s performance highly depends on everyone’s prompt response, more often than not, it’s the complete opposite. Cognitive overload is one of the biggest hurdles an employee could face, and it’s usually a direct result of having to plunge into the pool of distractions. 

Science has it: the more communication tools, the less work

If you have been wondering whether your frequent checking up on emails impacts the final outcome of your project, science has a response to your question. A study on the influence of interruptions caused by communication tools, on the employees’ overall work performance, has shown that the more often we have to cycle through multiple different applications, the more time we need to resume our primary tasks. When interrupted from deep work, we usually need 16 minutes and 30 seconds to regain the same level of focus as before the distraction. This substantial lag in the resumption of our most important daily assignments can seriously hinder our productivity levels. 

Frequently, these constant distractions bear essential information. However, sometimes you might find yourself diverted from an urgent task only to see your team members sharing a video of their dog’s newest trick. Since the transition to working from home has eliminated the water cooler talk and gathered us all around the sound effects of instant messaging, how do we find an easy cure? Does the focus lie hidden in the miraculous sign-out button? 

Although there’s no easy solution to migrating all your work-related communication to the virtual environment without having to face occasional drawbacks, less is more when it comes to collaboration tools. Instead of improving teamwork communication, maneuvering the way among different software leads to more precious hours wasted searching for valuable information across various tools. Reconsider the tools you already use and reevaluate the worth they bring to your workflow. In case they add to confusion instead of collaboration, it’s time to click the quit button.

How to track important messages in communication tools 

Carefully selecting the communication tools for your team paves a solid way towards the elimination of overlooked information. Although your team’s productivity is deeply intertwined with their ability to openly communicate, more often than not, an abundance of communication tools might lead to everyone’s poor performance. However, the excess of unnecessary data and frequent distractions can easily be prevented if you allocate time to proper communication management. 

Consider introducing the following communication guidelines into your team members’ daily routine and witness the progress in both the quality and the swiftness of your conversations. 

Channel your communication

If your Monday mornings usually begin with your attention scattered all over the place while switching between tabs, in the attempt to catch up with last week’s topics, it’s time to introduce some changes. Getting information across does not have to be a complex, time-consuming process. Instead of directing all your attention to setting up a daily update meeting to avoid missing out on any information, consider introducing tools designed to ensure your briefings are brief indeed. 

The stepping stone towards approaching the issue of missing important messages in your discussions is introducing a simple communication system. Pumble allows you to organize your teamwork communication efficiently, by providing an intuitive environment for your workplace conversation — channels. A channel is a communication environment specially designed to aid you in avoiding the trap of misplaced messages. 

An example of Pumble’s channels
An example of Pumble’s channels

Let’s take a closer look at the process of simplifying your communication methods by making the most out of Pumble’s channels.

Set up a channel

Creating a new channel is a simple process. If you have already found an adequate name and defined the purpose of your channel in the description, rest assured that the days you spent rummaging through endless conversations are bygone. If your standard practice was going over the minutes of yesterday’s meetings before starting your workday, the process of finding the exact information has become easier than ever. 

Creating a channel in Pumble
Creating a channel in Pumble

Set up a public channel to ensure every team member receives information on time and no missed messages hinder your projects’ progress. When the information is department or project-specific, consider creating a private channel to avoid the information overflow. 

Win the name game

If you have to spend more than a couple of seconds searching for the right place to make an announcement in Pumble, it’s high time that you reconsider your naming policy. Even though Pumble allows you to invite as many team members as you want to your workspace, ensuring that data never slips through the cracks depends on the organization of your communication. 

When naming a channel, consider the number of departments and projects, but don’t overlook the importance of creating an area specifically dedicated to your team’s socializing. 

Introducing proper naming conventions will secure a functional work environment and prevent frequent distractions when some of your coworkers come up with an idea to share a screenshot of their step counter activity. 

An example of informal channels in Pumble
An example of informal channels in Pumble

Following consistent naming conventions will also prevent your team members from being uncertain about joining a channel. Although joining or leaving a channel is quite straightforward, preventing your team from being misguided by perplexing names will save everyone a lot of time. If unsure whether your channel’s name is explanatory enough, keep in mind that the description box gives you enough room to provide detailed information about a channel.

Do mention it

Properly naming and describing your channels does ensure the absence of confusion when searching for the right place to share the information. However, if the people you intended to see the message still fail to notice it, maybe it’s due to them not being notified about it. 

In order to prevent your team members from overseeing an important notice, make sure to make mentions a standard practice of your workplace communication.  

Whether you intend to inform all the members or the information you would like to share is relevant to a number of people only, start by entering the @ symbol. 

Using Mentions in Pumble keeps the participants informed about the outcome of a conversation
Using Mentions in Pumble keeps the participants informed about the outcome of a conversation

Depending on the scope of people you would like to inform about your announcement, you can either type a specific team member’s name (e.g. @johnsmith) or notify the entire channel by entering @channel. Think of typing @here when you wish to inform the online members only. 

The person mentioned in a channel will see their name highlighted in yellow, guaranteeing the critical information isn’t disregarded. 

Thread your conversations

Implementing coherence into your virtual communication sometimes might appear as a struggle, especially if introducing channels into your daily work communication does not solve the issue of missed messages. If upon returning from the lunch break, you end up having to rummage through the endless ongoing conversations, the introduction of new communication guidelines might be long overdue. Pumble relieves you of the burden of infinite scrolling by allowing your team to join in the conversation by replying in a thread. Threads keep your discussions organized and goal-oriented. 

Participating in a discussion by replying in a thread keeps the conversation easy to follow
Participating in a discussion by replying in a thread keeps the conversation easy to follow

Start a thread

Keeping your discussion concise is paramount to effective team communication. However, sometimes the conversation might get fractured despite its brevity. If there’s an open discussion taking place in the #general channel, responding to the post without utilizing the message thread option is equivalent to poor communication manners. 

When participating in a discussion relevant to a large number of coworkers, always consider starting a thread. Not only will this option keep all the essential information together, but it will also facilitate a proper virtual communication etiquette that every team member can follow. 

Don’t lose the thread

If you partake in a group conversation following the above-mentioned thread rules, it won’t be as complicated to remain up-to-date with the recent messages. Whenever your team members join in the conversation, a notification will inform you of the recent posts. 

However, sometimes, the discussion could consist of relevant messages you don’t want to miss, but you might be too busy to keep track of them in real-time. This is when the option Mark as unread comes in handy.  

An example of an Unread announcement in Pumble
An example of an Unread announcement in Pumble

Marking the threads as unread will allow you to keep an eye on the important messages regardless of how hectic your workday may be. When a chance to spare a couple of minutes to go through the threads comes up, you can always find the unread messages in your left sidebar.  

Express your emojis

If the fear of your announcements appearing unprofessional prevents you from getting the full benefit out of emojis, it’s time to adopt a new standpoint. Even though the use of emojis in workplace communication has sometimes been tied with the assumption of the incompetence of its users, they can do wonders for your message formatting. Apart from that, they have become an integral part of innovative business communication, according to Forbes magazine. 

Whenever you wish to be certain that your team’s messages don’t get lost in a meandering conversation, point out the importance of using emojis. Instead of extending the discussion further just to agree with a statement, react with an emoji. 

Responding to an announcement by using an emoji
Responding to an announcement by using an emoji

Emoji reactions secure that your coworkers don’t miss important messages in group conversations because discussions are scattered all over the place. Apart from setting the tone to your message, implementing emojis into an announcement ensures your messages shine through.

Express your agreement, tone, or just start your Monday off on a positive note by introducing the following emojis as practical addition to your communication practice. However, always be mindful of the cultural context you are implementing the emojis practice into. Sometimes, certain emojis might come across as inappropriate. The following chart may be applicable in Western culture only, so it’s always best to bear in mind the cultural diversity of your organization before clicking the react button. 

Emojis to use
👍 indicates approval
👀 looking into something
✅ usually refers to completed tasks
💪 expressing encouragement
👋 greeting
👏 indicates agreement or praise
🚀 refers to launching, usually of products
✍ taking notes for future reference

Get your message across 

Transparent communication should be every organization’s top priority. Providing project-related details in private messages is a slippery slope that can easily lead to communication silos. However, certain situations require the discussion to continue in private, regardless of whether they involve sensitive matters or contribute to the team’s connection. Aiming to get to know each other should not be discouraged, given that it contributes to your team members’ shared efforts of improving their communication. Yet, if this type of communication increases information omission, it’s time to introduce new conversation guidelines. 

Let’s go over some useful ways of ensuring everyone on your team utilizes this option properly and no crucial data gets lost.

Make sure you send the right message 

Even though fast communication tools might inspire your team members to utilize the direct message option for various causes, reminding them when it’s appropriate to start a private conversation prevents relevant information from getting lost. Sending and reading direct messages in Pumble is a rapid way of transmitting information. However, overusing this option might cause an interruption in your team members’ daily workflow. Given that a private message breathes an air of urgency and requires a quick response, it’s crucial not to misuse it for the sole purpose of greeting your coworker or sending a funny image. 

Pin your message down

You might have gone above and beyond to ensure no important messages go unnoticed. However, occasionally, some of your coworkers send their drafts using the direct message option. Regardless of the workplace communication environment, if your organization’s standard practice is to keep all the files easily accessible to everyone, this is the moment when poor communication practice constructs a stumbling block. 

However, pinning your messages or files within direct messages and channels helps keep track of all the relevant issues without the need to write everything down. In Pumble, for example, you can pin a direct message or an announcement posted in a public channel and easily find it in the Details section. 

Clock off and catch up

The virtual office has given rise to the challenge of genuinely switching off and taking a break from work. However, allowing the fatigue to win in order not to miss important messages will certainly not advance anyone’s productivity levels. 

Whether you have been planning to embark on a cruise or just make the most out of your coffee break, we have prepared some actionable advice on how to take a respite and still get back on your feet after returning to the virtual office. 

Announce before you unplug

When working remotely, delegating your tasks and requesting time off might not be sufficient for everyone to be aware of your leave. Catching a glimpse of an empty cubicle and realizing that your coworker is unavailable at the moment seems like ancient history now that an increasing number of companies have embraced a hybrid model of working. With that in mind, setting an Out of office status in a virtual communication tool should be part of your vacation preparation plan. 

Selecting your status keeps your team members updated
Selecting your status keeps your team members updated

Pumble lets you select your current status from a list of ready-made choices, such as Vacationing, Commuting, In a meeting, etc. If you want to provide more details on your back-to-work date, you can always customize your message by creating your own status. Giving enough details on your out-of-office time will reduce the chance of missing out on important messages and simplify the process of resuming where you left off. 

Stay (dis)connected

Whether you intend to shift your focus from the constant buzzing of instant messaging notifications or plan to grab a cup of coffee, pausing notifications in Pumble will undoubtedly ease your conscience. You can quickly pause your notifications by selecting the Pause notifications option for the amount of time you would like to be uninterrupted. 

The Preferences menu also allows you to manually set up your quiet time or even receive notifications to your cellphone whenever you wait for an important notice to pop up. 

Setting up your notification schedule allows you to remain informed even when out of the office
Setting up your notification schedule allows you to remain informed even when out of the office

Choosing your own terms for receiving work-related information assists you in both staying informed while not keeping track of the updates in real-time and keeping you undisturbed while being off. 

Find the needle in the haystack 

Scrolling to locate a specific message or a file could be time-consuming regardless of the number of hours you spent out of the virtual office. Instead of concentrating on catching up with the project’s progress, you spend hours desperately trying to pinpoint the file the Video editor sent you a month ago. Fortunately, an effective remedy could ease your transition from pristine beaches to the work environment. 

Start by clicking on a channel or a direct message in Pumble. After you spot the Search field, type in the keyword that could help to locate your file. 

Searching for relevant content in Pumble
Searching for relevant content in Pumble

You can also use the Filter option to narrow your search down and increase the chances of finding the content you are looking for faster. Whenever your search for a file is time-limited, you can always opt for browsing files in your workspace by clicking the File Browser icon. 

Wrapping up

Dealing with long-overdue deadlines while simultaneously trying to track each new announcement is an uphill battle. Apart from being harmful to your coworkers’ wellbeing, failure to spot important messages in virtual conversations can severely hamper your team’s productivity. However, the necessity to remain informed at all times doesn’t do any wonders for their efficiency either. 

Careful and strategic analysis of your company’s communication habits might settle the problem of frequently missed information without the need to focus on tracking the team’s communication in real-time. After all, everyone deserves quiet time regardless of their work environment. 

Redirect your attention to preventing the recurring loss of information by making full use of your communication tool. As a result, you’ll never lose track of important messages, not even when your screensaver takes over. 

Author: NatasaMilojevic

Natasa Milojevic is a writer and researcher dedicated to exploring the depths of human communication and collaboration. You can usually find her engrossed in her research on the quickest and most reliable ways of transmitting ideas in a remote work environment. Leaving no stone unturned until she discovers the most valuable advice for fostering efficient teamwork collaboration, Natasa spends most of her days behind the keyboard.

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