05Mar, 2014

Formal vs. Informal Communication in Event Management

By: Riva and Indira Abidin

communication image-resized-600An organization cannot operate without communication. If there is no communication, employees will know nothing about what their co-workers are doing, leaders cannot receive any information, providers cannot give instructions, work coordination cannot be done, and the organization will collapse because of lack of communication. (Keith Davis and John W. Newstrom, 1993) It is similar to event management. Essentially, a company is establised from the various events conducted in the company. We can say, “Building a company one event at a time,” or even “Building a country one event at a time.”  

We will discuss two types of communication to create a successful event, i.e. formal and informal communication:  

1. Formal communication is very structural; it runs through the company’s hierarchy and indicates someone’s position in a company or in a project management structure, such as in an event management. This kind of communication conducted in formal or official situations, like formal meeting and project meeting, is using proper and correct language. Email communication, especially in professional context, is often formal and using formal language.  

2. Informal communication disregards structure, hierarchy or even position in a company or project management. This kind of communication is conducted in informal situations, using everyday language.  

In Asian firms, formal communication is considered very sacred and should be maintained properly. Every leader should be respected and treated formally. But along with various changes and world’s dynamics, the management should consider this matter, especially in an event management.  

The Importance of Informal Communication  

There are several reasons why informal communication is very important in event management, they are:  

1. Casual situation

A casual condition is necessary in building creativity, which is crucial in every phase of event management, from planning, implementation to evaluation. Formal communication usually creates the situation that is awkward, tense, inflexible and even stressful, so it is not effective in stimulating creativity.  

2. Complementing formal communication

In many cases, formal communication should be followed with informal communication since not everything can be resolved with informal communication. It is important to maintain the integrity of the work team in the event implementation. Informal communication also gives valuable feedback to the event leaders about the emotional states that are important in creating a successful event.

3. Fast and efficient

Informal communication can be implemented immediately without having to wait for the command or a special meeting. Team members may feel more comfortable talking with their leaders and provide valuable input as well as complaints. Relationship of mutual trust and mutual support can be quickly created so that the process can be done more efficiently and solution can be obtained faster.

4. More enjoyable working atmosphere

Informal communication can create a more comfortable and enjoyable working situation, encourage team’s spontaneity, the learning process, and the transformation of knowledge and expertise. In the long term, informal communication can encourage the building of a more effective and faster competence.  

Noticing the positive aspects of informal communication, we also have to keep the formal communication performing effectively for several things:  

a. Objectives, policies, and procedures

Event implementation requires clarity and precision in various phases. Objectives should be clear, policies and procedures must be strictly defined and consistently enforced.  The administration of the event implementation and the procedures that have been carried out must be fully complied. Those cannot be done informally. Everything must be recorded, documented, and put in black and white. The templates for strategic planning, progress reports, schedules, purchase approval, changes, and various other things should be performed exactly based on the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that has been formally developed previously.

b. Structure

The structure of the event managers must be absolutely clear, coming with the job description of each work team member, their authority and their contacts. The more clear and detailed it is formally regulated, the better the support provided by the entire work team. It also gives a sense of security and comfort in interacting with other work team members.

c. Protocol

In the event implementation, it is very important to consider the protocol. Every work team member must master the protocol well so that there will be no errors in the seating arrengement during a meeting with various agencies, work groups, and so forth. Anything related to the protocol runs on a very formal setting.  

Basically, language and communication is the primary need in an event management. You need to know and get used to with when you have to use formal language or non-formal language. Because the way you communicate will impact on the quality of your event and the success of the organization as a whole. An expert once said “Communication error is the beginning of all problems.”

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