Mark Evans is a self described "professional communicator". Over the weekend he kicked out a post on communicating in the digital world that "has been gnawing at me for a few months". The bottom line for Mark? In person is the most powerful way to communicate.
For most people, Mark is probably right. However, it pays to know corporate culture. For instance, at many engineering driven technology companies, email is supreme. During my time at Microsoft, phone calls were rare. It was a behaviour that I had to unlearn after leaving the company.
In email, it's much more difficult to explore options, to discuss a topic, or to ask the probing questions that can get to the heart of creating agreement. Moreover, emoticons are a poor subsititute for body language. Mistaken intent is a frequent problem. That's why sales people rarely use email for anything beyond confirming appointments, and sending product literature.
Poor communications style, however, hampers the effectiveness of any medium. There's nothing worse than in-person meetings or telephone calls where issues are discussed peripherally and conclusions not reached. Nothing worse, except perhaps lengthy hyperbole drenched emails without any conclusion, or voice mails that say "call me when you get a chance" without providing any context. Of course, if you're a BlackBerry user, we at iotum have a solution to deal with the latter problem.
Communicate well, using all the media at your disposal.