Mode of communication refers to the vehicles or instruments or channels through which communication is delivered or channelised. The choice of the communication media depends upon a number of factors like the derived speed, amount of information, cost effectiveness, etc.
These days communication is possible through a vast variety of media. Numerous communication channels are used like face to face conversation, telephones, teleconferencing, e-mail, fax, etc.
In this article you will learn about :-
Types of mode of communication – 1. oral communication 2. written communication 3. face-to-face communication 4. audio-visual communication 5. visual communication 5. facial expressions 6. silence as communication 7. computer-based communication 8. mass communication
Along with convention modes of communication – 1. mail 2. courier 3. hand delivery 4. telegraph 5. telex
Mode of Communication Meaning
Mode of communication refers to the vehicles or instruments or channels through which communication is delivered or channelised. The choice of the communication media depends upon a number of factors like the derived speed, amount of information, cost effectiveness, etc.
Numerous communication channels are used like face to face conversation, telephones, teleconferencing, E-Mail, fax, etc. In addition to these verbal communications, non-verbal communications like communicating through face expressions, body language, etc., are available.
Modes of Communication
These days communication is possible through a vast variety of media. The Managing Director, eager to communicate with the sales manager can summon him to his room, talk to him over the telephone, or send him a memo. If he wants to consult all the departmental heads, he would most probably convene a meeting.
If information is to be transmitted to all the employees, a notice may be put on the notice board or a peon may circulate it among them, a senior officer may announce it over the public address system, or it may be printed in the office bulletin. Posters may be used to issue warnings.
Communication with the Government departments and other agencies is generally conducted through written letters. General public can be reached through advertisements on the radio, television, theatre halls, or in the newspapers and popular journals.
For communication to be effective, the communicator has to be very careful and judicious in the choice of media. This will depend on various factors like the urgency of the message, the time available, the expenditure involved and the intellectual and emotional level of the receivers.
All the media available can be broadly classified into five groups:
- Written communication
- Oral Communication
- Visual Communication
- Audio – visual communication; and
- Computer-based communication.
1. Written Communication:
Written communication includes letters, circulars, memos, telegrams, reports, minutes, forms and questionnaires, manuals etc. Everything that has been written and transmitted in the written form falls in the area of written communication.
2. Oral Communication:
Oral communication includes face-to-face conversation, conversation over the telephone, radio broadcasts, interviews, group discussions, meetings, conferences and seminars, announcements over the public address system, speeches, etc.
3. Visual Communication:
Visual communication includes gestures and facial expressions. Organisations also make use of tables and charts, graphs, diagrams, posters, slides, film strips, etc., as a means of visual communication.
4. Audio-Visual Communication:
Audio-visual communication encompasses television and films that make use of the visual impact along with narration.
5. Computer-Based Communication:
Computer-based communication includes e-mail, voice mail, cellular phones, fax, etc.
Most often more than one medium may have to be simultaneously employed to make the communication effective. Face-to-face communication combines the oral form with the visual. Graphs and posters often combine the visual with the written form.
A manager giving written instructions takes effort to explain them to a subordinate. In such a situation he simultaneously uses the oral and the written form of communication. A great deal can be communicated by the absence of communication, that is, by maintaining silence.
Types of Mode of Communication
A. Oral Communication
Oral communication is vital for any business, social or political organisation. Whatever the form it may assume, it occurs through spoken words, through speech either face to face or through any electrical device such as phone, teleconferencing, public address system, etc.
Effective Oral Communication
Whatsoever the form it may assume the underlying principles are the same:
1. Pronunciation: All the words should be pronounced correctly and clearly. Bad pronunciation creates an adverse image in the mind of the listener.
2. Self Confidence: The person speaking must have self-confidence which comes with sufficient knowledge of the subject and overcoming inner inhibitions.
3. Concise and Complete Message: The message to be presented must be concise and complete. Over-loaded messages diverts the reader’s attention whereas under loaded messages misleads him.
4. Logical Sequence: The speaker should present the message in logical sequence with marshalled arguments. Only then his message will be more vivid and forceful.
5. Natural Voice: The message should be presented in the natural voice. This voice should be made pleasing and clear with practice, confidence, and emotional content.
6. Tone: The tone of the message should be according to the situation so that the message should not only be intelligible to the mind but also appealing to the heart.
7. Variations in the intonation pattern: The sound of the voice should not be steady and flat. There should be variations in the intonation pattern i.e. both rising as well falling pitch, according to the occasion. It definitely creates interest and maintains the attention of the listener.
Advantages of Oral Communication
1. Immediate Clarification: In oral communication, the communicator can immediately clarify the message if the receiver has any doubt about the message. This is not possible in written communication which requires certain time for feedback.
2. Speedy: Oral communication, whether face to face or through electrical or electronic devices, is speedy. Unlike written communication it does not require time to be spent on dictating, drafting, printing, proofreading, revising and recopying.
3. Suitable for Emergency: Since oral communication is the most speedy method of communication, it is suitable for conveying emergency messages.
With this, instantaneous feedback is received that eliminates the chances of misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the message and simultaneously helps to convey the meaning and sense without wastage of time.
4. Lesser Formal: Oral communication is less formal compared with written communication. As a result, the concerned parties can exchange their opinions frankly and fearlessly.
5. Group Communication: Through oral communication group communication is possible. Therefore this type of communication is most used in conferences, meetings and seminars where different persons can interact with each other.
6. Personal Quality: Through oral communication, effective impact can be made on the receiver through personal quality and influence of the personality. Such an advantage is not possible in case of written communication.
Disadvantages of Oral Communication
Oral communication has some of the following disadvantages:
1. No record: Since there is no documentary record of the oral communication, it does not become legal evidence. It can be used for future or legal reference, if it is tape-recorded. But it is not possible in every case.
2. Lengthy message: If the message is lengthy the chances of its misunderstanding, delusion and forgetting are very high. Lengthy messages usually fail to retain the listener’s attention, as a result communication failures occur.
3. Distortions: In oral communication, misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the message usefully occur because of the distorted meanings by the receiver. The main theme of the message is lost as a result of these distortions.
4. Speaker’s ineffectiveness: Speaker’s inability and ineffectiveness adversely affect the creation and retention of the listener’s interest. To make the oral communication effective Speaker’s vitality and effectiveness are essential.
5. Limitations of human memory: Because of limitations of human memory oral communication becomes ineffective. Human memory cannot retain all the spoken words even if they have been clearly heard and understood.
Oral communication takes place through any of the following medias:
(3) Voice Mail
Teleconferencing is the next substitute for face-to-face communication, popularly used when two or more persons are thousands of kilometres away from one another. Through teleconferencing they can hear and see each other and talk with one another as if they were sitting together in one room.
1. Teleconferencing eliminates the unnecessary travel by executives and ensures long distance communication. In the present era of globalisation, people operating in different countries can be linked together in a “global office” through teleconferencing.
2. However it is technologically and economically unaffordable for small organisations as it requires elaborate studios at each location with heavy expenditure. Moreover it cannot replace face-to-face communication completely in case of brainstorming, negotiation and persuasion etc.
Still it is very useful, for benefits in terms of savings in travelling expenses and avoidance of interruptions in work, outweigh the costs of its operations.
Telephone is one of the most frequently used means of oral communication in the present business world. Most of the urgent matters are dealt with on the phone. Not only one-to-one contact but group communication is also possible through audio conferencing, when more than two persons, sitting far away speak on telephone.
Merits of Telephone
(a) Through telephone, contact with persons sitting miles away is possible.
(b) It saves the time wasted in transmission of messages either through first or personal contacts.
(c) On telephone instantaneous feedback is possible. Consequently the communicator can clarify the doubt if the receiver has or can adjust his message accordingly.
(d) Sometimes it is very difficult to contact a person busy with his job. Through telephone, he can be contacted without disturbing his busy schedule.
(e) Telephonic communication can be made more effective than face-to-face communication, through modulations of voice.
(a) Since telephones lack visual feedback, it is difficult to reveal the moral of the receiver. As a result, communication becomes ineffective if the receiver is in a hurry or angry.
(b) Unlike face-to-face communication, on telephone it is very difficult to hold the receiver’s attention for a long time. Therefore, it is not suitable for conveying lengthy messages.
(c) It is expensive especially when the geographical distance between the sender and receiver is more. But compared with videoconferencing it is cheaper.
(d) Telephone messages do not provide a permanent record for legal purposes, unless they are recorded on audio tapes.
(e) It is very frustrating when the concerned person cannot pick up the receiver, because of his touring or travelling. Pagers and mobile phones have overcome this disadvantage, but they are still expensive in India.
Barriers to Effective Telephone Use
The common barriers to effective telephone use may be physical or psychological.
Physical barriers include the following:
• Noise in transmission.
• Disconnection of telephone calls.
• Telephone tags due to busy calls.
• Non-connectivity due to problems with telephone exchange.
Psychological barriers relates with user’s
• Ability, and
Physical barriers may be controllable or uncontrollable. For example, the problem with exchange is uncontrollable. But with computerizations of exchanges, telephone services have improved. One should also check one’s telephone system to ensure flawless communication on the phone.
Psychological barriers need special attention and training. These psychological barriers are:
1. Wrong attitude. The attitude of the communicator affects the effectiveness of the telephonic conversation. Please compare these negative and positive attitudes.
The person with a negative attitude fails to communicate the message in an effective way as his wrong attitude provokes the negative reaction of the receiver. Similarly the person with a negative attitude fails to comprehend the message conveyed by another person.
2. Lack of ability to Communicate. Another affecting barrier in the telephonic conversation is the communicator’s lack of ability to convey the message or listen to another person empathically. Ill-planned and ill-thought out messages are likely to leave any good impression and impact on the listener.
On the other hand, well-planned and properly thought out messages are likely to have a good impact upon the listener. Similarly inability to listen to the message also affects the flow of communication.
3. Wrong Approach. How one approaches while talking on the phone also affects the transmission of the message. While talking to close friends, one can become casual and take time to be familiar with personal health and other matters. But in business affairs, one should not waste time in talking about personal matters and should approach the message in a straightforward manner.
How to make effective use of the telephone?
• Before ringing up, plan the message to be conveyed.
• Always keep pen and paper for noting down the main contents of conversation.
• Speak in polite, pleasant and positive manners.
• Do not waste time in unnecessary and undesirable talks.
• Do not shout or speak too low. Speak in a natural voice.
• Be more alert and attentive while talking on the phone. Listen to the other person patiently without any interruption.
• Say ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’ or ‘hello’ before introducing yourself.
• Introduce yourself before conveying or receiving the message.
• Make sure about the identity of the other person before talking.
• Ask the other person to repeat the message, if it is not clear.
There are inherent limitations of fixed installed telephones like lack of connectivity for persons moving around. To provide connectivity and convenience along with freedom to roam, Pagers were invented. Under the paging system, the sender dials the Pager Number and conveys the message through human voice.
The Paging service-provider forwards the message that gets electronically printed on the Pager of the Pager holder. The message is received without actual dialogue, and the pager holder is allowed turnaround time to get back with a suitable reply to respond to the message. He can either phone or can avoid the dialogue with undesirable persons.
Presently there are two modes of paging i.e. Auto Paging and Operator Assisted Paging. In Auto Paging, message is directly keyed by the sender with use of tone mode on the phone; whereas in Operator Assisted paging the sender asks the service provider to convey the message to the receiver.
When rental and call charges of mobile phones were high, Pagers were used to be an attraction, because of their low monthly rental fee for unlimited number of messages and the facility of avoiding pesky callers. There are certain value added services in the Pagers.
(a) E-Mail messaging
With the E-mail messaging facility, E-Mail can be read instantly. The Paging services will forward all email to the pager-holders by charging nominal fees. With this, the pager holder needs not to access the internet and to spend time connecting to the internet.
Even he can reply back through EMail; for this he has to call his paging services and dictate the message to them. The operator will forward the message at the specified email address. This service eliminates the time gap between sending e-mail and connecting to the internet for opening e-mail by the receiver.
(b) Voice mail
The Pager Service Providers also offer a facility of voice mail in which messages in any language is recorded. As soon as the caller finishes recording the message, the operator informs the pager holder that a message is waiting for him in his voice mail box.
The pager holder has the option of retrieving the message at his convenience. With this service, one can have a long message in any language.
(c) Information Services
Most Pager Service Providers in India regularly transmit information on pagers. Their information relates to stock price, forex, sports and major political events.
Mobile phones provide a definite edge over fixed telephony when we talk of connectivity, convenience and freedom to roam. The person holding a mobile phone can be contacted at any time, at any place. The possessor of a mobile phone can talk and transact even while driving a car or travelling in train.
Because of the advantages of the latest information in “real time” among “virtual reality” during the mobility period, subscribers of mobile phones are out-passing fixed telephones at global level.
Advantages of Mobile Telephony
Mobile telephony provides the following advantages to the user:
• Anytime, anywhere connectivity.
• Convenience and freedom to carry anywhere.
• Possibility of doing business during travel.
• Transfer of data along with transfer of voice.
• Digital photography in new models.
• Internet access at any time.
Disadvantages of Mobile Telephony
Mobile telephony has following disadvantages:
• Compared with fixed telephony it is expensive to use, especially from mobile to landline.
• Wide spread use of cell phones has led to increased concerns about possible health hazards particularly brain diseases as the antennas of these phones lie along the head and the radio frequency waves have both electrical and magnetic components.
• Use of mobile phones during driving increased the chances of accidents.
• Wider use of mobile phones is a problem for the environment.
3. Voice Mail
Sometimes it happens that the receiver is not available on first or sometimes second, third or more attempts. To overcome this, telephone tag, the electronic message system of voice mail is used. This system allows the sender to leave the message with the receiver who will pick it up later on.
With this, the sender can feel confident that the receiver will receive the message by listening to his (spoken) voice. This system saves time and money when one way information is to be conveyed. However this system is relatively expensive.
Guidelines for Using Voice Mail
Voice mail can be a useful tool or an annoyance to the receiver; depending on how you use it. The following tips will help you get your message across most effectively when you begin speaking after the beep.
1. Leave the name of the person for whom the message is directed: Most home answering machines and some voice-mail boxes in businesses are shared by more than one person. Don’t make the recipient guess who you’re trying to reach.
2. Identify yourself: Unless the recipient knows you well, leave your first and last name. You may not be the only John, Kim, Lizzie or Gus in the receiver’s circle of acquaintances. If there’s any possibility of misunderstanding, spell your last name.
3. Leave your phone number: Especially if you want to be called back quickly. Even if you know, others have your number, they may not have it with them when they are picking up messages.
4. Organize your message in advance: Don’t confuse the recipient by sending a rambling message in which you carry on a conversation with yourself, change your mind, or switch ideas mid message. This sort of rambling makes you sound muddle-headed, and it is likely to annoy the recipient.
5. Keep the message as short as possible: Even a one-minute message can seem endless to the person who receives it. A long message, even if it is well organised, may contain too much information for the listener to digest. If you have a great deal to say, consider alerting your receiver to the main points and then send the details via fax, memo, or overnight mail.
6. Speak slowly and clearly: The vocal fidelity of some voice-mail systems is poor and you don’t want your message to be misunderstood.
B. Written Communication
Written communication includes written words, graphs, charts, reports, diagrams, pictures etc. It comes in a variety of forms. Letters, memos, bulletins, reports etc. It may be ordinary manual based internal or external mail or may be based upon computer technology.
Whatever the form or channel it may assume, every piece of written communication requires use of human memory, imaginative power, ability to observe and think, mastery over language and ability to write.
Advantages of Written Communication:
(1) Permanent Records—Written communication has the advantage of being stored for future reference or legal documents.
Therefore policy matters, procedural instructions and confidential orders are communicated through written communication. Even if the receiver forgets the message, he can refer to the files where written records are preserved.
(2) Easier to Understand—Written communication is easier to understand than speech as it allows ample time for the reader to read at his leisure, analyse and think about the message. He can take a break, if his interest wanes. Therefore lengthy and large messages are usually communicated through written words.
(3) Composing in advance—Written communication can be composed in advance, before it is delivered. The sender can ponder over the words and their effect on the receiver, and accordingly, can change his message.
(4) Accuracy—Written communications are less prone to errors, as they are organised more carefully than the spoken messages. While writing a message superfluous words and all possible errors should be avoided to make it concise, clear and complete.
(5) Wider access—Written messages, frequently circulated, have wide access to the employees. This is not possible in case of oral message.
Disadvantages of Written Communication:
(1) Time consuming process—Written communication involves time in writing, rewriting, printing or proof reading the message, to be communicated. In oral communication such problems are avoided with instantaneous communication. Not only does it take time in drafting and producing the matter, but also takes time to reach the receiver.
(2) Not suitable for illiterate—Written communication is not suitable for illiterate people as they cannot read or write.
(3) Formalism—Written communications are more formal and rigid than oral communication. As a result, it leads to defensive behaviour among employees and red-tapism in organisations.
(4) Immediate feedback is not possible—Unlike oral communication, in written communication immediate instantaneous feedback is impossible.
Forms of Written Communication:
A facsimile or fax machine is one of the most useful media for transmission of written, especially visual material such as diagrams, copies, etc. Fax machines are connected with telephones both at the transmitting and receiving end. In fax a document is fed in the transmitting end which is converted into electrical signals.
These signals are transmitted through telephone lines to another fax which reconverts these signals into printed out hand-copy. Then the receiving fax machine sends a message confirming the receipt of the entire message.
Important Features in a Fax Machine
There are several brands of faxes, with distinctive features. Some of the features commonly possessed by fax machines are:
(a) Remote Activation: The user can activate his machine via his cordless or even a parallel phone line. This telephone works even during a power failure.
(b) Memory: The fax machine can store the message in memory if there is no paper for printing the message.
(c) Transmission Speed: If the speed of transmitting the message is high, the cost of transmission and reception decreases.
(d) Auto Paper Cutter: Fax machine has a paper roll, printing the transmitted message. This paper is to be cut if an auto paper cutter is not available.
(e) Answering Machine: Usually fax machines have inbuilt answering machines.
Advantages of Fax
The fax offers the following advantages:
(a) It is a quick means of communication.
(b) It can contain pictures as well as words.
(c) The recipient needs not to be at the receiving end to receive the message.
(d) Generally it is cheaper to fax the message than to send it through postage or courier.
Points to be considered while sending message through Fax
The message, whether handwritten or typed that is going to be transmitted by fax should carry at least the following information for its clear understanding by the recipient:
• The organisation and the person by whom the fax is sent.
• The organisation and the person for whom the fax is intended.
• The number and date of the letter.
• The number of pages of the letters being sent.
2. Electronic Mail (e-mail)
E-mail is another instantaneous medium of communication. It transmits the written message via computers connected on the network. For access to the network area, a computer, a telephone, a modem with software are needed to function on EMail.
If the network is linked with the internet, it provides the added advantage of global communication at local charges.
Advantages of E-Mail
1. E-mail is an easy, quick and cheap means of communication.
2. In the present business world, that rapidly advances towards less formal structure, E-Mail facilitates more paperless offices and enables the employees to function even without sitting at the office.
3. The messages sent by e-mails are in the form of text. As a result, the correspondents can include them in computer programmes of their own.
4. E-mail has created an easy communication link among executives and employees transcending hierarchical barriers and has facilitated them to work at home beyond their duty hours.
5. E-mail is the instantaneous means of communication at distant places at significantly cheaper rates.
6. Through EMail, messages can be sent to large numbers or selected persons simultaneously.
7. Like fax, the E-mail system also provides the advantage of storage of messages in the memory. As a result, it saves the sender’s time wasted in telephone tags.
8. The sender needs not to spend a lot of time worrying about layout, typing faces, paper quality or print quality of the message. Therefore he/she can focus his/her attention on the words. As a result, e-mail messages are short and informal.
9. One can attach computer files—for example, desktop publishing (DTP) pages, graphics or spread sheets—which others can use in their own work.
10. When one receives an email and wishes to reply to it, one can attach one’s reply to the message. This keeps that correspondence together, which is useful when checking back what has already been said. With the increasing popularity of Emails in the present business world, the use of phones for instantaneous communication is becoming lesser.
People are more interested in E-Mail addresses, than postal addresses or telephone numbers. E-mail is becoming popular not only because of cost-effective and instantaneous means of communication, but also because of the present social shift to E-culture and ultimate form of E-expression.
One of the disadvantages of E-Mail is that it is restricted only to people with computers. To remove the computer from the EMail loop and to facilitate transmission of messages irrespective of location, E- Pagers have been introduced in the market. The E-Page holder can send a reply that will follow the same route to reach the addressee.
C. Face to Face Communication
Face-to-face communication may, at first thought, appear to be identical with oral communication. However, it is possible to visualise certain situations in which the two get distinguished. Telephonic conversation is oral but we cannot call it face-to-face communication.
The Presidents of two countries greeting each other with a smile and warmly shaking each other’s hand are engaged in face- to-face communication, although, for want of a common language, their communication cannot be described as oral. In most of the situations, however, all face-to-face communications are oral also.
Merits of Face-To-Face Communication
(i) Facial Expression and Gestures Help to Communicate Better: Oral communication is better than the written one in one respect: the message is reinforced with the help of the tone, pitch and intensity of the speaker’s voice.
Face-to-face communication enjoys yet another distinct advantage: the message being communicated also gets the assistance of facial expressions and gestures. Thus the communication is almost perfect.
(ii) Particularly Suitable for Discussion: Face-to-face communication is particularly suitable for discussions, for there is immediate feedback from the total personality of the listener including the vibrations being emitted by it and not just in terms of words which may often be hollow and meaningless.
Somebody may accept your view because he is convinced, or he may accept it because being your subordinate he has to accept. Conviction looks different from surrender or resignation, and you will immediately know. Face-to-face communication provides the speaker with a much better opportunity for adjustment.
A puzzled look indicates lack of understanding: explain yourself better. A blank face with head turned sideways suggests lack of interest: either make your listener interested in what you are saying or stop.
A twist of the lips, a frown on the forehead, a contraction of the facial muscles points out that your message is not welcome: change your tone and make yourself sound and look more considerate and sympathetic. These adjustments are possible only in face-to-face communication.
Demerits of Face-to-Face Communication
(i) Ineffective If the Listener is not Attentive: A limitation which face-to-face communication shares with oral communication is that its effectiveness is closely linked with the listener’s attentiveness.
Since human beings can listen to and grasp messages faster than the speed at which they are delivered, they will easily get diverted, thus making communication ineffective.
(ii) Not Effective in Large Gatherings: It is very difficult to get a message across to large gatherings. Even though the speaker is addressing them face-to-face, the vital personal touch is missing. In the absence of satisfactory feedback, his speech lapses into a monologue.
(iii) Difficult to Practice in Large-Sized Organisations: Face-to-face communication is extremely difficult to practise in modern large-sized organisations, particularly if their various units or departments are situated at different places.
(a) Control over reader’s attention: Compared with written or telephonic communication, face to face communication provides the advantages of exercising control over reader’s attention. The Speaker can effectively capture the listener’s attention by making his message clear and interesting.
(b) Effect of Facial Expressions: Another advantage of face-to-face communication is that the Speaker can make it more vivid and forceful by conveying through facial expressions, tone and pitch of the voice.
(c) Suitable for Discussions: Face-to-face communication is most suitable for discussion where instantaneous feedback is imperative. Even communication on telephone or teleconferencing is not as effective as it is in face-to-face situations, when a lot of discussion for negotiation, brainstorming or persuasion has to be done.
(a) Inattentive Listening. For effective communication, not only the ability of the communicator matters but also the listening skill of the listener plays an important role. Most people seem to listen, but do not listen because of wandering of mind to other matters, using or selective perceptions, egoism, etc. As a result the communication does not take place because of inattentive listening.
(b) Difficulty in arranging personal contacts. Face-to-face communication suffers from the limitation of arranging personal contacts. If the various departments and persons are working at different places, especially noticed in big organisations, it is very frustrating and difficult to arrange their personal contacts. Moreover it is not easy and economical, rather expensive and time-consuming.
(c) Unproductive in unhealthy relations. Face-to-face communication sometimes proves counter productive when the relations between the parties are unhealthy. It may lead to further conflict and confrontation among them.
Under such situations, better will be to avoid this mode of communication. First make the communication environment congenial, then proceed with such media of communications.
D. Audio – Visual Communication
Audio-visual communication is found most suitable for mass publicity, mass propaganda and mass education. Large business houses frequently make use of this technique to educate their workers and to popularise their products.
The working of a new household appliance like a mixer or a washing machine, the effectiveness of a new detergent powder, the freshness of new designs in suitings and shirtings can be effectively demonstrated through audio-visual.
Within the organisation, the workers can be educated by suitable demonstrations on the close-circuit television screen. In order to make an effective use of this technique, it is necessary to make the films and slides attractive and interesting, and the narration clear, precise, and lucid and easily understandable.
It is also advisable to keep the films short and to screen them at an appropriate time. Audio-visual communication is most suitable for mass publicity and mass education.
Audio-visual communication that makes use of telecasts, short films on the cinema screen and video tapes is a powerful medium of communication. It is a combination of sight and sound. It may make use of the written words also. Visual communication is not found to be adequate in itself.
People will just casually glance at it and let it go at that. It is quite likely that they will miss the message. But if the slides are accompanied with explanation and narration, it will facilitate interpretation and ensure that the message is driven home.
Besides, information transmitted through audio-visual means is retained for a much longer time than through any other means. It is a matter of common experience that people can easily recall some of the powerfully depicted scenes of a movie years after they have seen it.
Communication through visuals is very effective because it is sure and instantaneous. No words are uttered, no signs made, and yet the message gets across. But visual communication alone is not enough. It can be used to transmit very elementary and simple ideas, orders, warnings.
It can be effectively used only in combination with other media. Facial expressions and gestures, printed pictures, posters, slides, film strips, etc., fall under visual communication. Mime is an old art in which ideas and emotions are communicated through facial expressions and gestures.
We are all familiar with the two pieces of bone put in a crosswise fashion with a skull placed in between and we all know that they signify danger. In cinema houses we often see a slide showing a lighted cigarette with a cross mark on it. Again, the meaning is clear to everybody: no smoking.
F. Facial Expression and Gestures
Successful communicators make a very effective use of facial expressions and gestures. A good boss, while scolding a subordinate for some serious mistake, will not show anger on his face; instead his face will register a feeling of concern for the employee so that the latter goes with the impression that the scolding was directed at improving him and making him more efficient in his work.
The foreman’s rebuke to a worker delivered in a sarcastic tone is sure to demoralise him and he is certain to repeat the mistake that earlier earned him the rebuke.
But a rebuke accompanied with a pat on the back assumes an altogether different meaning and the worker goes back to his job determined not to provide the foreman with another opportunity for admonishing him. Face-to-face communication becomes more effective if accompanied with appropriate body language.
George Terry describes them as ‘body language’. Rolling, shrinking, winking and thinking of the eyes, frowning, twisting the lips, wobbling the head, staring in the vacuum with blank, listless eyes, fidgeting in the seat, fumbling the packets, biting the nails, clattering the teeth, raising the first and thumping the table, grinning and grimacing, packing up and down in the room, sawing the air with violent movement of the arms are some of the expressions and actions that constitute body language.
Nervousness, anger, fear, scorn, determination, horror, sympathy, pity, lack of understanding disinterestedness, resentment can be much better expressed through body language than through words.
Therefore, it would be a serious mistake to overlook the contribution of body language to the communication process. Would you believe a person who says ‘glad to meet you’ unless his face glows with warmth and his voice quivers with a thrill of happiness?
G.Silence as Communication
Collective silence of workers in an office communicates a lot about their attitude to work and their culture. There is a world of difference between a place buzzing with raucous noises and one that has people working quietly. Working quietly shows satisfaction while making noises at work shows some discontentment.
Silence, by its very nature, communicates. It can also be deftly used to communicate. There is an age old saying, ‘Silence is half consent’. Yes, very often, especially in response to a request or a question regarding our opinion about something, we keep quiet. That serves the purpose. It shows our approach is positive. On the other hand, silence can also send out a negative signal.
For example, if somebody asks us for a loan and we keep quiet it will generally be construed as a negative response. If we want to help somebody we openly say so. Silence also shows our disinterestedness in something. Our interest in something or somebody freely comes to our lips and is evident through our eyes.
Interest has an inbuilt element of excitement while lack of interest is best expressed through silence. And we also keep quiet to suppress our anger. A keen observer can easily make out our attitude and interpret our silence in such a situation.
In a meeting or group discussion if somebody keeps quiet it is construed that he is mentally absent or probably not really interested in what is going on.
It may also be interpreted as his ignorance of the matter being discussed. In the same way, a candidate’s silence in an interview betrays his ignorance.
Silence on the part of the audience at the time of a speech shows interest and participative listening. Speaking at such a time will distract the speaker and give a poor impression of the audience. This is why quite often we hear ‘Silence please!’ In this way we see that the silence is a multiprolonged communication tool and speaks louder than words.
H. Computer-Based Communication
Computer technology has dramatically changed the landscape of business communication today. It is fast annihilating the barriers of time and space and the concept of our world turning into a small global village now appears to be a distinct and near possibility. For it is now possible to communicate instantaneously with people inhabiting the remote places.
To get a clear picture of the changes that have taken place, let us compare sending a message through a letter with an E-mail message. In earlier times, the manager dictated a letter to his secretary. When the secretary brought it, he reviewed it, revised it and got it retyped.
In all probability he again made a few modifications and got the final draft typed. The envelope was typed too. The letter was dropped in the mail and was delivered at the destination several days later. The whole process was quite cumbersome and time-consuming.
Merits of Computer-based Communication
(i) Video Conferencing can Replace Personal Meetings: Executives can now hold conferences without undertaking long, uncomfortable journeys that also prove to be expensive both in terms of time and money. This facility offers all the advantages of a conference without any of the executives stepping out of their office.
(ii) World Wide Web (WWW) as a Publishing Platform: Word Wide Web is a hypermedia. It supports audio, video, graphics, text distributed delivery systems on the Internet. It is widely used for publishing a variety of information on all subjects.
It lets you access information which could be lying in a computer’s network anywhere in the world, by pressing just a few keystrokes. Vendors can use this facility to give better service to the customers by getting faster feedback.
(iii) The Quickest Means of Communication: Computer technology has drastically reduced the time taken to formulate a message as well as to transmit it. Word processors have made the formulation of messages extremely easy. In fact, the executive who owns a personal computer no longer needs a secretary to type and type his letters.
He can do it faster himself. The message can then be instantaneously transmitted through E-mail. Some sophisticated software enables the sender to incorporate graphics in the message.
The executives can keep revising the message and changing the layout till they are fully satisfied with it. They can then get a laser print on the letterhead of the organisation and send the message through a fax machine.
(iv) Better Means of Keeping Permanent Record of Valuable and Bulky Data: Information stored in the files and books becomes, over the years, difficult to manage. This information can now be stored digitally on CD-ROMS, optimal discs, tapes and other storage media.
This sort of storage has four distinct advantages:
(a) easy to store;
(b) equally easy to retrieve;
(c) since it is stored in a compressed format, it is possible to store even bulky data; and
(d) if the computer is networked, this information can be shared and accessed by a large community of people.
(v) Space no Longer a Barrier to Communication: Messages can now be sent fast to any place in the world provided that place is accessible on the network.
Demerits of Computer-based Communication
(i) Fear of Undesirable Leakage: Easy accessibility of information on the network can sometimes become the biggest liability of this channel. There have been seasonal reports in newspapers where operators have accidentally come across information of a highly sensitive nature.
The leakage of such information could even threaten the security of a nation. In commerce, confidentiality enjoys an ethical dimension, so a channel suspect on that account cannot easily win the user’s faith.
(ii) The Virus Malady: Sometimes some undesirable viruses get into important data files and corrupt them. Retrieving correct data then becomes difficult. Some talented but mischievous programmers may deliberately introduce a virus in some remotely placed computer system. Such an occurrence can have tragic consequences for the targeted organisation.
(iii) Uncertain Legal Validity: Written communication is a permanent record of proceedings and is accepted as a legal document in a court of law. No such sanctity has yet been assigned to computer records.
Computer data being prone to easy tinkering, its legal validity is yet a debatable issue. And if data is stored both on a hard disc and in office files, it will multiply work rather than reduce it.
Scientists have fully seized these drawbacks of computer technology and are actively addressing themselves to eliminate them. They are positive about finding quick solutions.
I. Mass Communication
Mass communication is communication from many to many. The messages are prepared by teams (as in newspaper, radio, TV, cinema) and reach a large number of people all over the world. The distance between the sender and the audience is very great.
1. Notice board:
Notice board and bulletin board are media for public communication within the organization. A notice board is placed at a location where it can be seen by the persons for whom it is meant.
Notice boards need care and attention. They must be attractively laid out; overlapping notices and crowding of too many notices gives the notice board a poor appearance and makes it difficult to read.
An up-to-date notice board, which is neatly laid out and does not carry stale notices, looks attractive and gets attention. Notices typed in double spaced lines, in large font, with wide margins are easy to read.
2. Hoardings and billboards:
These are meant for mass communication like advertisements. They are used for posters conveying simple ideas. They usually have a short message in large letters and also include pictures. Location of the boards is important; they are usually placed high up and can be seen from a distance.
3. Newspapers and magazines:
These media of mass communication are used by business houses for inviting tenders, for recruitment information and other public notices and advertisements.
The radio is a medium of mass oral communication. News, notices, advertisements are transmitted to the public by radio. Like other mass media it allows only one way communication. The transistor set has made it possible for radio to reach all parts of the country and all sections of the population.
Film is the most powerful medium of communication. It is the audio-visual medium which combines all possible forms: written, oral, visual and auditory.
A film can be shown in a cinema theatre or projected on a small screen in a room with a film projector, or projected on the TV screen through a video player or transmitted by television. It can now be viewed on the computer monitor through the internet.
The film is a highly versatile medium and can be used for many purposes, and adapted to different conditions.
Television is a powerful medium, which, like the film, is audio-visual. Its ability to transmit live events as they are going on makes it the most powerful medium for mass communication.
With teleconferencing, the television can transmit things happening at more than one place at once. A news reader in Mumbai can take the audience to a view of what is happening in Los Angeles or hold a live discussion with a reporter in Paris.
This is the most recent, the most powerful of all media. It has a growing audience, and most people use it for finding information. Even small firms now have web sites which are indicated on their letterhead, in their brochures, advertisements and other publicity literature.
Communication media available to business people have mushroomed in the past few years. You can select from the traditional oral and written channels and from the new electronic media which have some of the characteristics of the older media.
People who need to communicate will have to keep up with the technology of communication which is developing rapidly to bring communicating parties closer to each other.
Some older channels and media may become outdated as new methods become available. Your selection of the medium can make the difference between effective and ineffective communication. You have to do your best to match your selection to your message and your intentions.
Every medium has limitations which filter out parts of the message. Every medium influences the receiver’s perception of the sender’s intentions. Different cultures favour one medium over another. In short it is said that the medium is a comment on the message.
What are the Modes of Communication
Life is changing faster than can be envisaged. Technology is changing the way one lives and works every day. Offices are going paperless and ‘green’ and the distances are getting lesser with each passing second.
Time zone differences do not stand in the way of being productive in any work environment. Cultures are coming together and people of varied colour, creed and race are part of one large workforce.
In this environment, communicating in an effective, yet proper manner following business decorum becomes extremely important. Earlier, business communication was about sending memos, writing business letters and so on. With technological changes, contemporary business communication is much more than that.
Now, workforces interact via Emails, Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing. It becomes imperative for everyone to know how to communicate with their peers in the industry they work in, to follow current standards of business communication.
There are various modes of communication. Though communication has advanced tremendously .
Let’s understand the different modes of communication:
It is a method for transmitting information and tangible objects, wherein written documents, typically enclosed in envelopes and also small packages are delivered to destinations around the world. Anything sent through the postal system is called mail or post and the postal service uses rail, road and air transport.
A postal service can be private or public but mostly it is Government owned. Since the mid-19th century national postal systems have generally been established as government monopolies with a fee on the article prepaid.
Proof of payment is often in the form of adhesive postage stamps, but postage metres are also used for bulk mailing. Postal systems often have functions other than sending letters, in some countries, a Postal Telegraph and Telephone (PTT) service oversees the postal system as well as having authority over telephone and telegraph systems.
Couriers are basically a service for sending money or goods at some extra cost. It involves a person or a company engaged in transporting, dispatching and distributing letters, parcels and mails, in a rather layman term, it can be said that, compared to normal mail service, a courier possesses many added features.
A courier is much faster, safer and more secure than ordinary mail. It is a specialised service with authenticated signatures. It has a tracking service with each service being treated as a specific individual case.
Dedicated timely deliverance is its primary hallmark. These features do cost a bit extra but with so many features available, the cost gets leveraged.
3. Telegraph and Telex:
A telegraph is a device for transmitting and receiving messages over long distances, i.e., for telegraphy. The word telegraph alone now generally refers to an electrical telegraph. A telegraph message sent by an electrical telegraph operator or telegrapher using Morse code (or a printing telegraph operator using plain text) was known as a telegram.
A cablegram was a message sent by a submarine telegraph cable, often shortened to a cable or a wire. Later, a Telex message was a telegram sent by a Telex network, a switched network of tele-printers similar to a telephone network.
Before long distance telephone services were readily available or affordable, telegram services were very popular and the only way to convey information speedily over very long distances. Telegrams were often used to confirm business dealings and were commonly used to create binding legal documents for business dealings.
The telephone is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sound, most commonly the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other.
It is one of the most common appliances in the developed world, and has long been considered indispensable to businesses, households and governments.
With time, many new features were introduced in telephones to make communication simpler and convenient. Cordless phone, caller ID, answering machine, intercom, etc. are several features which makes communication extremely easy all over the world.
In today’s modern scenario telephone is a fast, convenient and to a certain extent even economical mode of business communication.
A fax (facsimile) is an electronic instrument composed of a scanner, a modem, and a printer. It transmits data in the form of pulses via a telephone line to a recipient, usually another fax machine, which then transforms these pulses into images, and prints them on paper. The traditional method requires a phone line, and only one fax can be sent or received at a time.
Digital fax machines first became popular in Japan, where they had a clear advantage over competing technologies like the teleprinter. Over time, faxing gradually became affordable, and by the mid-1980s, fax machines were very popular around the world.
Although businesses usually maintain some kind of fax capability, the technology has faced increasing competition from Internet-based alternatives. Internet faxing is a general term which refers to sending a document facsimile using the Internet, rather than using only phone networks with a fax machine.
Internet fax is more economical as no extra telephone line is required for the fax and hence there is reduction in phone costs. Also, internet fax can be paperless communication, integrated with email and have the ability to receive and send faxes from any location that has Internet access.
However, fax machines still retain some advantages, particularly in the transmission of sensitive material which, if sent over the Internet unencrypted, may be vulnerable to interception.
In some countries, because electronic signatures on contracts are not recognized by law while faxed contracts with copies of signatures are, fax machines enjoy continuing support in business.
In many corporate environments, standalone fax machines have been replaced by “fax servers” and other computerised systems capable of receiving and storing incoming faxes electronically, and then routing them to users on paper or via an email (which may be secured).
Such systems have the advantage of reducing costs by eliminating unnecessary printouts and reducing the number of inbound analogue phone lines needed by an office.
6. Cellular Phone:
A Portable telephone device that does not require the use of landlines. Cellular phones utilise frequencies transmitted by cellular towers to connect the calls between two devices. Cellular phones have grown to be the most widely used portable device in the world. They are also referred to as wireless or mobile phones.
A key feature of the cellular network is that it enables seamless telephone calls even when the user is moving around wide areas via a process known as handoff or handover.
In addition to being a telephone, modern mobile phones also support many additional services, and accessories, such as SMS (or text messages), voicemail, email, Internet access, gaming, Bluetooth, infrared, camera, MMS messaging, GPS, etc.
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide.
It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks, of local to global scope, that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies.
The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the interlinked hypertext documents of the World Wide Web (WWW) and the infrastructure to support electronic mail.
The Internet is revolutionising our society, our economy and our technological systems. No one knows for certain how far, or in what direction, the Internet will evolve. But no one can underestimate its importance. In business, the internet is most frequently used for sending mails and other files and documents.
Business websites help to provide information about a business, advertising and also in finding new customers. E-Commerce, Banking, advertising, buying, selling, networking, and communicating, etc. – Almost all business activities can be done with the help of the internet.
8. Teleconferencing & Videoconferencing:
Teleconferencing is interactive group communication (three or more people in two or more locations) through an electronic medium. In general terms, teleconferencing can bring people together under one roof even though they’re separated by hundreds of miles. Today, teleconferencing is used in many ways. There are three basic types:
- Video conferencing-television-like communication augmented with sound.
- Computer conferencing-printed communication through keyboard terminals
- Audio-conferencing -verbal communication via the telephone
One of the major advantages of teleconferencing is its potential to reduce the cost of group meetings. Savings come primarily from reduced travel costs.
Although saving money is a big advantage of teleconferencing, there are several other advantages:
- People (including outside guest speakers) who wouldn’t normally attend a distant meeting can participate
- Follow-up to earlier meetings can be done with relative ease and little expense
- Socialising is minimal compared to a face-to-face meeting; therefore, meetings are shorter and more oriented to the primary purpose of the meeting
- Some routine meetings are more effective since one can tele-conference from any location equipped with a telephone
- Communication between the home office and field staffs is maximised
- It’s particularly satisfactory for simple problem solving, information exchange, and procedural tasks.
Convention Modes of Communication
Media which have been in use for a long time and depend on traditional carriers are called conventional for convenience and to distinguish them from the modem media based on advances in electronics.
The postal service uses rail, road and air transport, and is usually a government- owned network with links with all other countries. Various types of mail services are available: ordinary mail, registered mail which may include A.D. (acknowledgement due). Quick Mail Service (QMS), Express delivery and Under certificate of posting.
Speed post is a service offered by the Post Office, it ensures delivery of letters and parcels on the same day within the city, within 24 hours to certain cities in the country and within 48 hours to cities in other countries. This service is not available in all cities.
The Post Office now offers electronic media for new services like hybrid mail in some cities.
Courier services are private; they collect and deliver packets door-to-door at any time during the day. Though the cost is high, this is a very quick service for the delivery of letters and parcels. Courier services are limited to the cities where they maintain their network. Their door-to-door service is a great advantage.
Courier companies are recognized as commercial companies. Courier services are the modern, sophisticated form of the messenger or runner of the old days before the postal service.
3. Hand delivery:
Written messages and documents and parcels can be delivered within the city by an organization’s delivery boys. The effectiveness and speed of this method depends on the organization’s own system of messengers.
It requires a number of employees for outdoor work, and may be expensive; but it ensures prompt delivery and acknowledgement from the receiver. It is most useful when proof of delivery is necessary for the record, as the messenger can bring back a signed copy, or an official receipt or a signature in the sender’s peon book.
Telegraph is a government-owned network in most countries; it has links with all other countries. It works by transmitting sounds in the Morse code. Telegrams can be sent ‘ordinary’ or ‘express’.
There is also a facility for reply-paid telegrams; you can send a telegram and pay for the other party’s reply telegram at your telegraph office. This facility is used to impress upon the receiver that immediate reply is expected.
The telegraph office registers special telegraphic addresses for companies, on application. This address is only one word; the only addition needed is the pin code number.
Organizations which receive and send a large number of telegrams can thus save expenditure for themselves and their correspondents. The telegraphic address can also be used as a signature of the organization in telegrams.
A telegram is used for external communication, for contacting customers, suppliers, travelling salesmen, branches, offices, etc. A telegram gives an impression of urgency, and therefore gets immediate response. It is used when there is an urgent message to be conveyed or urgent action is required.
This medium’s importance has been substantially reduced by fax and mobile phones in large cities, but it has an excellent net-work which reaches even remote parts of the country where the modern media have not yet reached. Hence, it will continue to be used for a long time.
Telex (short form of Teleprinter Exchange) is a world-wide teletype service providing instantaneous communication through a direct dial teleprinter-to-teleprinter system. Messages can be sent and received 24 hours a day.
The system of direct dial teleprinter exchange was introduced in 1958; within ten years it had more than 25,000 subscribers. It enabled subscribers to send messages and data directly to each other.
Telex connection is through the Post Office; each subscriber has an Identification code for connection. The teleprinter has a keyboard for typing messages and a transmitter/receiver for sending and receiving messages.
The machine is fitted with a roll of paper, and messages can be typed out continuously. When a message is typed on the sender’s machine, the same message gets typed at the same time on the receiver’s machine also.
The advantage of this machine is that it automatically types out received messages even if the machine is not attended; the received messages can be read later. When the receiver’s machine is attended, the sender and the receiver can carry on a two- way “dialogue” by typing out in turn.
Telex messages are paid for on the basis of the time taken for transmission and the distance; the charge begins as soon as the connection is made. Telex users have developed a language of contractions and abbreviations for saving time.
As telex connects the two communicants in real time, it is not subject to problems like viruses.
It is used mainly by organizations like railways, ports, shipping companies, stock exchanges, banks and financial institutions, embassies, and major corporate houses which need constant international communication.
Telex messages are relayed on a screen in newspaper offices, share markets, air ports, railway stations and places where moment-to-moment information has to be conveyed to many people.
Telex has an excellent international network and installation of good machines in good working condition. Recent developments have made it possible to use a computer instead of a teleprinter for transmission of telex. As technologies converge, the use of teleprinters may become outdated.
You can transmit a message by any suitable medium; there are many media to choose from. Each medium has its own features which are advantageous in one situation but disadvantageous in another situation. Besides, each medium makes a different kind of impression and impact on the receiver.