Understanding Direct Messaging for Business Communication

Direct messaging: Make the most of every conversation

Mastering workplace communication through direct messaging

By the team at SlackDecember 29th, 2023

Direct messaging is a way for two teammates to chat privately. Direct messages are useful for confidential discussions or one-off conversations that don’t require an entire channel of people to weigh in, like asking someone to reschedule a meeting.

Although direct messaging is essential to how organizations work today, it’s only one of the many ways teams use Slack to collaborate. Below we’ll share tips for choosing the best direct-messaging application for your company, and ways to help you make the most of DMs.

What is direct messaging?

Direct messaging is a private communication channel between two or more people. Direct messages are only visible to the sender and recipient. You can communicate in real time or asynchronously, and afterward you can scroll through your conversation history for reference.

Direct messaging vs. group chat

A group chat involves three or more participants. Unlike group channels, a group message involves sending a DM to a group of people. Only those people can see your message and participate in the conversation. On the other hand, a message sent in a group channel is visible to others.

In Slack, you can add up to nine people to a multi-person DM (MPDM) and choose whether new people can see previous messages. MPDMs are more casual, collaborative and personal than email, encouraging off-the-cuff responses. They can also be turned into channels to create a dedicated space to collaborate on projects.

What makes a good direct-messaging app for businesses?

It uses enterprise-grade security

A good direct-messaging app secures conversations with encryption and identity/device management. Platforms like Slack take it further with audit logs, Enterprise Key Management (EKM)‌ and integrations with industry-leading data-loss protection providers so sensitive data doesn’t leak.

It follows major compliance policies

Direct-messaging apps can also help you stay compliant with industry-specific privacy regulations. That’s essential for any industry handling sensitive and confidential data, like healthcare, insurance and finance. You can configure direct messaging apps to comply with privacy regulations like the European Union’s Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or industry-specific regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

It integrates with your tech stack

Collaboration is fueled by shared knowledge, and in an ideal direct-messaging application, you have quick access to your data and information. Look for a direct-messaging app that integrates with your tech stack, whether it’s your CRM, cloud storage solution or project management platform.

Five ways to get even more out of direct messaging

Whether it’s brainstorming ideas or solving one-off problems, direct messaging can be a useful way to collaborate with a teammate. But turning conversations into productivity can be a challenge. Here are a few ways Slack helps you make the most out of your direct messages.

Set a reminder for tasks within a direct message

Do you ever lose track of tasks that come out of conversations? Slack makes this easier with a slash command that lets you set a reminder to return to a task, whether it’s in a DM or a channel.

Simply type /remind followed by what you want to be reminded of and when. The following phrases all work for setting reminders that will fire off when intended.

  • /remind me to ping @karl about the Xanadu project in three hours
  • /remind me to file expenses on the 1st of every month
  • /remind #nyc-office to clean out the fridge every Friday at 3 p.m.
  • /remind me to check my Asana tasks at 9:15 a.m. every weekday

Prioritize direct messages in your sidebar

Like with channels, star your most important DM channels to bump them to the top of your sidebar, under the “starred” category. If you want to de-prioritize a conversation, you can mute specific DMs without deleting conversation history.

Automate reminders and responses with Slackbot

Slackbot lets you automate reminders, notifications and other repetitive DM or channel responses so you can focus on more critical tasks. For example, you can use Slackbot to automatically remind users to fill out their status updates.

Hop into a huddle for even deeper real-time collaboration

Sometimes it’s easier to talk things out. Launch an audio- or video-based huddle in your DM to work in real time alongside coworkers with screen sharing and a dedicated thread for notes.

Huddles in Slack

Unlock more value out of direct messages with Slack

Direct messages are a useful for private discussions, but they are only a small component of how organizations work today. Get even more out of DMs by taking advantage of Slack features like setting reminders, prioritizing conversations and integrating with your favorite tools. Contact our sales team to learn if Slack is the right direct- messaging solution for you.


Was this post useful?



Thanks so much for your feedback!

Got it!

Thanks for your feedback.

Oops! We're having trouble. Please try again later!

Keep reading


A crash course on the art of external business communication

Effective external communication strategies can go a long way for business success


Internal communication in business: barriers, benefits and strategies to consider

How cohesive internal communication strategies drive company success


The best collaboration tools for remote teams

Learn about the best tools and technologies for remote and hybrid teams using Slack.


10 tips for mastering time management at work

Time management at work is key to optimizing productivity