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Choice of Modes of Communication Notes – CSEET

Choice of Modes of Communication Notes – CSEET

Means and Modes of Communication

Business communication is generally interpersonal since discharge of business functions requires interaction with others.

Means of Communication

The means or methods of communication, as is evident from the Figure above, are broadly classified into (i) verbal communication entails use of words to convey messages either in speech or through writing; and (ii) Non-verbal communication where messages are communicated through body language (i.e.) facial expressions and gestures. There are a variety of Modes through which one can communicate most of which you may be familiar with and may have also used or been the recipient of at some point of time.

Verbal Communication

It is a written or a spoken message that uses words to exchange ideas/ information. Words are selected in phrases, sentences and paragraphs depending upon the results the verbal communication is trying to achieve.

The means of verbal communication are:

  • Written communication
  • Oral communication
  • Visual communication
  • Audio-visual communication.
  1. Written Communication

In the written form, it may require drafting of letters and circulars, proposals, memos and business reports of varying kinds and includes:

  • Memo
  • Report
  • Office order
  • Circulars
  • Graphs/Charts
  • Staff Newsletter
  • E-mail
  • Form/Questionnaire
  • Letter
  • Notice, Agenda, Notes on Agenda
  • Minutes of Meetings
  • Advertisement
  • Customer Newsletter
  • Press Release
  • Invitation
  • Leaflet/Brochure/Handbills
  • Manuals

Advantages and Disadvantages of Written Communication

Written Communication has several advantages, although the disadvantages of written communication are equally serious.


  1. It allows us sufficient time for planning the document we propose to create, taking into account the purpose for which it is being written.
  2. It also enables us to revise the contents if we find them unsuitable for the recipient from the point of view of clarity or interest.
  3. To display what we have written, we have a variety of recent and traditional trends to choose from. There is also a scope to use tastefully designed stationery for the purpose.
  4. The use of headings and bullets enable us to organise the material for better understanding.
  5. Information in the written form may be filed or retrieved at our convenience. Its permanence facilitates prolonged correspondence.


  1. It takes much more time to compose a message in writing. Therefore it is expensive.
  2. It also tends to suffer from the limitations of the sender, like the assumptions or prejudices, and the delayed feedback makes it worse.
  3. The inadequacies of the first message may only be revealed when the reply arrives.
  4. Communication in writing suffers from lack of congruence with non-verbal communication
  5. Oral Communication

Research studies have shown that 80% of communication by executives of a company is in the oral form. The modes of Oral Communication include:

  • Telephone/Cellular phone
  • Messages
  • Intercom
  • Face-to-face discussion
  • Meetings/Conferences
  • Presentation
  • Dictaphone/Dictation
  • Conversation
  • Radio
  • Teleconferencing
  • Speeches
  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Grapevine
  • Interview

Importance of Oral Communication in Business

Speech is one of the earliest as well as the widely used medium of communication. We can retrace our memory to the days of Socrates, Demosthenes and others who were great and renowned orators. In fact, talking has achieved bringing into being great institutions. The world-renowned insurance company Lloyds is the brain child of some merchants and ship owners who used to meet and discuss the matters of mutual interest at a coffee house on the banks of the river Thames.

The Bank of England, the oldest in U.K. was born out of the deliberations the goldsmiths had amidst themselves. There were and there are great personalities who hold the audience spell­bound.

Everyday in business, people come into conversation-the superior with the subordinate, superiors among themselves, subordinates among themselves, the customers with the suppliers and suppliers with clients and so on and so forth. Effective oral communication is a passport to success in business. No fixed norms can be set for effective oral communication. Factors like the audience, size of audience, the degree of significance attached to the information to be spoken out, fear of the boss, fear of status, fear of one’s own self-advancement, all affect oral communication. Often the Chief of a Corporation appearing on television or radio or at a meeting picks his words as if he is a tight rope walker knowing that a single word wrongly uttered may shatter his image or that of the corporation which he heads.

It is true that all business managers should be adept at communication since they have to communicate to various people at various places, various facts and figures, financial or non­financial, implication of which may have significant impact upon the management of the business. Business communication itself is a difficult subject, it is also very difficult to separate it from every day activity of business people as it has acquired special significance in the life of the people in business. It is said a successful businessman should be first of all well conversant with the techniques and the art of communication in order to make his assignment a successful one.

In the early days, much time was spent in generating data of all kinds. However, not much attention was given to quality of transmission of information. It depends upon the presentation of information by using appropriate words and medium, which upgrades the value of the information by the receiver.

As stated earlier, oral communication is the most frequently used means of transmitting messages in business. It is resorted to more often than any other type of communication. The reasons for the popularity of oral communication are its advantages. They are:

  1. Oral communication saves time. It is said time is money. Wherever and whenever action needs to be taken instantly or immediately, the best way to expedite action is to transmit necessary messages orally. Oral communication helps busy people to reassign their workload quickly by giving necessary instructions, guidance and providing information to subordinates. It thus saves time and quickens the action.
  2. Oral communication provides the opportunity for feedback and clarification. This process of communication helps the sender of the message to clarify each and every point instantly. The receiver, at the same time, can also express his opinion, views or emotions on the spot. He can ask for clarifications wherever required and get himself satisfied. Thus, clarity is better ensured and makes the communication more effective and purposeful.
  3. Oral communication helps to convey the message more appropriately with suitable tone, voice and use of words. It can instantly make the receiver of the message understand the content of communication and significance thereof assigned to any particular matter of communication.
  4. Oral communication is an effective tool of persuasion in management. It gives a personal touch to the communication. For this reason, supervisors and executives in all sorts of business enterprises prefer to communicate their views, ideas and opinion orally.
  5. Oral communication is very effective in communicating with groups. It helps the speaker to establish personal contact with a group of people and make the group understand his opinion and views at a single point of time. The speaker can also hear about the group’s reaction subsequently.
  6. Oral communication is economic also. It saves manhours to be spent in preparing notes, explanation, circulars, etc. It also saves the stationery of the organisation.
  7. Withdrawal of oral communication is comparatively an easy task. There are at times situations in business where oral communication is preferred to written communication for, the latter may create an official record which may be used as evidence against the person on any legal matters arising later in point of time.

Disadvantages of Oral Communication

The disadvantages of oral communication also deserve equal mention, as oral communication by itself, is not effective always. It mainly depends upon the attitude of the sender and receiver of messages. It should always be kept in view that communication is not a one sided activity. The communicator will have to use appropriate words to convey the message as well as develop ability to receive and react to the communication spontaneously. The use of right words specially in oral communication makes the communication more effective. Saying the right word at the right time to the right person will receive best possible response from the receiver. It is not what you say but how you say it that matters in oral communication, only the right word will get right response. People especially in business should develop a habit to listen to the whole message with meanings, ideas, feelings, intentions and facts conveyed, including things that are unpleasant and unwelcome.

Oral communication is totally dependent on listening. Therefore bad or partial listening may affect the comprehension of the message. Since the feedback is instant, therefore the process may become extremely lengthy. Some meetings go on endlessly without producing proportionate results. Oral communication generally has no record or legal liability. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to confirm important oral messages in writing. Similarly, the economy of oral communication is dependent on control. Telephone calls, unless kept brief, may also cost a lot of money. Unfamiliar accents and pronunciation caused by regional variations and mother-tongue interference often lead to temporary difficulties for the recipients. In short, it is important to exercise control in order to derive the benefits of oral communication.

  1. Visual Communication

Visual communication could be with words or pictures or a combination of both and includes:

  • Graphs
  • Tables/charts
  • Maps
  • Models
  • Demonstrations
  • Slides
  • Flipcharts
  • Neon Hoardings
  • Printed/Painted Pictures (Posters etc.)
  • Internet without use of multimedia

The modes of visual communication are useful tools for conveying information in a manner that makes the data and any relationship between variables clearer and easier for the receiver to follow. They can be used on their own. But the maximum benefit can be gained from them if they are used as a complement of the main message because they are more capable of attracting and retaining the attention of the receiver than speech or written words.

The main advantage of using visual communication is that the message conveyed using this mode is easily remembered by the receiver and for a long period too. However, using this mode is also expensive which is its major disadvantage.

  1. Audio-visual Communication

The rapid advancements taking place in the field of information technology have brought about unprecedented changes in the communication systems the world over. In this scenario the modes of audio-visual communication assume more importance.

The means of audio-visual communication include:

The greatest advantage of this mode is that it aims at stimulating the senses of both sight and hearing simultaneously and thus enhances the effectiveness of the message. The other advantages are its wider reach and the fact that the message is remembered for a much longer time than it would be if it had been conveyed by any other mode of communication. Here again the high cost factor involved is its greatest disadvantage.

Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal Communication includes:

It is an unspoken or unwritten message that uses body language. This may be used by itself e.g., frowning or smiling at someone or along with oral communication. In a situation involving the use of oral communication, non-verbal signs play an equally important role. While listening to someone, one may also be looking at the person. Their facial expressions such as a smile or a frown may strengthen the verbal message. The entire body language, from large gestures to proximity with the listener, may help emphasise the contents of the message.

Alternatively, if the non-verbal communication is absent, it leaves the recipient guessing. The “British stiff upper lip” which looks down upon display of emotions in public is a good example. Similarly in the case of verbal and non-verbal incongruence, the result may be confusion and even a communication failure. It is important to note two things. In simple situations, non-verbal communication may suffice in itself. For example, it will be perfectly in order to smile at a guest and escort him in without speaking a word. Second, this form of communication has a strong cultural content. The Arabs and Latin Americans are prone to move closer to the listener as well as maintain more eye-contact than the Europeans do. Similarly, physical contact is considered a powerful tool of communication. But touching an acquaintance, the handshake excepted, is almost taboo among the British, insignificant in America and common in Latin America.

Choice of Means and Mode of Communication

Organisation size and PolicyNature of MessageDistance InvolvedCost FactorResources

Choosing the right means and mode of communication plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the message being communicated and such choice depends on various factors such as:

  1. Organisation size and Policy

If the organisation is small, probably more communication will be oral, than in larger organisations where it may be in writing. The policy for communication also would play a major part in influencing one’s choice of mode of communication.

  1. Cost Factor

The main point to be considered here would be to evaluate whether the cost involved in sending the message would be commensurate with the results expected.

  1. Nature of Message

Whether the message is confidential in nature, urgent or important etc., and whether a matter would require hand-delivery or be sent by registered post etc. also influences the choice of mode and means of communication.

  1. Distance Involved

Where the message is to be sent is also another vital factor which could influence the choice of means and modes of communication. For example, if a letter is to be sent to a partner in a joint venture in Japan and it is urgent, you would not think of sending someone to personally deliver it.

  1. Resources

The resources available to both the sender and receiver would also influence your choice. You can only send a fax if the other person/organisation has a fax machine.

Therefore we can see that the choice of a particular mode and means of communication will depend on a case to case basis and is influenced by various factors.

Mediums of Digital Communication

We are living in the Information Age, and the digital technologies have revolutionized communication in the modern world. The Internet and cell phones are two of the most prominent examples of the influence of the Information Age, but there are many other types of digital communication technologies used nowadays. There are many different ways of communicating digitally. Most of them are used in everyday situations. Some of the most common mediums of digital communication are:

Electronic mail (or e-mail)

It is a method of creating, sending, storing and receiving messages over an electronic communication system. It uses a protocol (a rule) for sending messages called Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP for short). One can send e-mail over an internet connection or over an intranet (a collection of computers within a specific area like an office building). E-mail users can communicate to each other by sending and receiving messages. Sometimes you want to store messages to read later and your email software will allow you to do this.

Instant messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is like e-mail but it is done in real time (get a response very quickly). The instant messaging software installed on the computer and in the software a contact list of people is set-up with whom one wants to connect. Most IM software lets you know who is on-line and available to chat. You can send text, pictures and even video using IM and whoever you are communicating with can respond as soon as they see the text appear in their IM software.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are used by lots of people today to talk, send text messages, take and send pictures, listen to music, or surf the internet. In fact you can do so much with a mobile phone it can be a complete communication tool. The Short Message Service (SMS) allows text messages to be sent and received via your subscriber service. If the phone you are sending the text message to is out of range or turned off, the service provider will store the text message until it can be delivered.


PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) are hand-held computer devices that can perform a number of different things, like receiving e-mails, sending messages, writing text (in a word processor). Newer PDAs are also telephone devices, receiving both audio and video. A PDA connects either through a local telephone network, or a local intranet or an internet connection.

Forums or Newsgroups

A forum or newsgroup is an online discussion group where people can subscribe (join) a group and post messages to that group. They can take part in discussions with other people in the group and reply to messages posted by other members of the group. The group can be closed (private) which is often used for communication between project groups working on a project together, like a survey or sharing project documents. An open (public) group is often used by people sharing a common interest. When you join a group you will need to register your details. This creates an account for you so you can post e-mail messages to the group.

A thread is just a group of related messages on a particular topic, for example pruning roses, or the latest film, everyone in the group has seen.

Emoticons are little graphical pictures that represent how people are feeling, like a smiley face for happy, or a face to say you agree with something.


A blog (‘web log’) is a form of online journal that allows text, images and video clips (and links to websites) to be displayed as a webpage but also allows comments to be posted by readers of the blog. Some blogs ask you to register with the site first before allowing you to post anything. There can be moderation of posts as with forums but that is determined by the owner/administrator. Blogs often contain information about a particular topic like food, politics or local news. A blog contains text, images and links to other blogs, forums or other web pages related to the blog topic.


Skype is not new to communication. It has been around since 2005, but has become very popular. Skype users receive calls on their computers dialled by regular phone subscribers to regular phone numbers. Skype permits users to subscribe to numbers in many countries including the UK and USA. Callers pay only local rates to call a number. Skype supports voicemail, chat, video calling, SMS messaging to mobile phones and skype casting. Multiple users can access Skype. A user will need a headset and a microphone or a Skype handset, which looks very like a mobile phone to talk to other Skype users. Video conferencing

Video conferencing provides two-way video transmission between different sites. It could be between two buildings, or even across different countries. Every video conferencing facility allows for call set­up, call coordination and display of participants. It is normally used with a video conferencing screen so you can see the people in each of the video conferencing rooms. Video conferencing makes use of specialist equipment like a computer, video camera and a network like an intranet or internet connection to connect the two sites together. Video conferencing can save people time, and the expense of travelling between sites for meetings.


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