A business organisation makes use of many methods of communication. Whether it is internal (within the organisation) communication or external (with parties outside the organisation) communication, there are many methods of communication available and being used.
The main categories of communication are:
- Verbal (oral) Communication
- Non-verbal Communication
- Visual Communication
- Written Communication
- Electronic methods of communication
Verbal communication is the most direct form of communication. This is the method by which the message is conveyed using speech of some sort involving oral expression of words.
Examples of verbal communication
- Face to face conversations such as normal talks over meals, discussions in offices or talks while selling to customers.
- Formal and informal meetings. People come together in an organised manner.
- Giving instructions – such as that from a manager to employee.
- Staff appraisals – One to one discussions between employees and managers to assess an employee’s work performance.
- Conference or seminar – formal occasions with speeches or lectures to a number of people or an audience.
- Training sessions conducted within the organisation or colleges or training centres.
- Press conference to make public announcements.
- Telephone calls or video conference.
Advantages of verbal communication
- It can be developed into a discussion so that any points that are not understood can be clarified.
- It can be further enhanced by non-verbal communication such as tone of voice of facial expressions.
- It gives immediate impact or feedback. The communicator immediately understands the effectiveness of his communication effort.
- It can be interactive so that it has a higher chance to be effective and successful.
Disadvantages of verbal communication
- It can take a long time, especially if many people are involved.
- Important points of a speech can easily be forgotten unless a written record is kept (minutes of meetings are usually taken of the important meetings)
- Non-verbal signals such as eye contact and gestures can conflict with what is being said.
- Different people possess different levels of oral communication fluency in which case those who are better at it will dominate the discussion.
- A chance remark may cause problems or maybe misunderstood.
- The conversations are not always planned and organised which means it can be a waste of time without leading to any effective communication or outcome.
Non-verbal methods of communication
Your body can enhance what is being already being expressed verbally by you. Or the body can by itself express emotions in different ways. It is also known as the body language. It is the manner in which the body or parts of the body expresses an emotion. It includes, how you stand, your gestures, and facial expressions.
Visual methods of communication
These are the forms of communication that may be seen and which may be used to add enhancements or value to the written or verbal communication.
Examples of visual communication are:
- charts and tables
- videos and DVDs
Written Methods of communication
Written forms of communication may be handwritten, typed, printed or electronically generated and saved.
Examples of written communication
- Letters – Nowadays letters are used only for very formal communications. It is now used to communicate externally and usually produced on the organisation’s letterhead. However, emails have gained importance in comparison to letters.
- Company magazines and newsletters – They are produced at regular intervals to provide staff with a review and pictures of past events and to give particulars of the planned future events.
- Forms such as job application forms, staff record forms, invoices and other commercial documents.
- Catalogues, brochures and leaflets.
- Meeting documents such as minutes of meeting, agendas and notices of meeting.
Advantages of written communication
- It provides permanent record for future reference.
- A response to the communicated information can be planned and prepared before sending.
- It is enforceable by law so it can be used as evidence in a dispute.
- it enables technical and complex information to be communicated accurately.
- it can be supplemented by visual or numerical data.
- identical copies of the written communication can be sent to several people.
- There is less chance of misunderstanding between the writer (the communicator) and the recipient, unless the writer’s language skills is really bad.
Disadvantages of written communication
- It can take time to prepare.
- Instant response and feedback is not usually possible.
- it is more formal and hence it lacks friendliness.
- It may be badly written with poor use of language, too wordy or with many mistakes in which case the communication will not be effective.
- It may not be fully read or understood.
- It may be costly to produce.
Electronic methods of communication
Telephone had been the most widely used electronic method of oral communication in the twentieth century. However the development of new technologies such as mobile phones have changed things. The improvement in internet connectivity speeds also have enabled the use of VOIP (voice over internet protocol) which resembles a conventional telephone call, but using internet broadband.
However, telephone is still a common method of oral communication used within an organisation or outside. Most of the companies still have landlines installed in their offices.
Advantages of using the telephone
- Allows one to one communication
- Immediate contact is made
- Allows the caller to make a more personal approach
- Enables a discussion to take place and decisions can be made over the phone conversation
- Instant feedback is available
Disadvantages of telephones
- It depends on the receiver of the caller to be available on the receiving end.
- No record of the conversation
- A telephone call can be costly especially over the long distances. For this purpose an internet call is much more preferable.
- Time differences may cause difficulty with international calls.
- Sometimes the connection between two telephone networks may not be good enough for a clear voice call.
Mobile phones (Cell phones)
Mobile phones are portable phones that most of the people carry around with them these days. These phones use satellite or radio transmission networks. Almost every country has mobile communication networks providers. Due to the convenience, mobile phones has become far more important than landlines in many countries.
Mobile phones has seen their technology has seen exponential growth in user numbers and also the advancements in technology that has made mobile phones far more than just a phone. They are gradually becoming mini computers in people’s pockets, especially with the arrival of smartphones.
Advantages of mobile phones
- It can be used anywhere any time where there is mobile network signal
- It can be used out of the work place
- It can be used to send text messages (something that gave it an edge over the conventional landlines)
- Internet can be accessed using mobile phones
- They are light and convenient to carry around
- Can be used in emergency situations
Disadvantages of mobile phones
- Mobile signals still do not reach all the places where a user may wish to make a call.
- High risk of loss or theft
- Calls can be expensive
- Noise nuisance when used in public places such as trains
Fax is a communication method which uses optical scanning devices and telephone lines for sending and receiving copies of any printed document on a paper. Replicas of documents are received almost instantaneously. These documents can be received at any time, thus overcoming the time zone differences. Before emails became widely used, fax was a very important method of communication for sending documents.
The main disadvantage of fax is that the document has to be printed out before it can be sent. If the document is large then it can take time to process the document.
Teleconferencing and Videoconferencing
In videoconferencing, people can see each other on monitors with the aid of camera and and can talk to each other using microphones. Videoconferencing usually takes place in fully equipped studios or conference rooms. New videoconferencing facilities using internet protocol networks provide better audio and video quality. Videoconferencing is also possible with anyone who is connected to internet and has webcam and microphone. With the improvements in internet connectivity speeds for homes and offices, this method is becoming popular for meeting with people where visual is important. Tertiary educational institutions are using this method to deliver lectures to distant learning students too.
Teleconferencing is where people in different locations are linked together through a teleconference center. They cannot see each other. Today this doesn’t necessarily require such a conference center. The telecom operators have made it possible for mobile phone users to do conference calls with any number of people.
Advantages of videoconferencing and teleconferencing
- Companies can save on travel costs and travel time.
- Problems of travel such as delays and tiredness can be avoided. It also avoids travel through risky areas where there are security concerns.
- Companies can save on meeting costs such as room hire and overnight accommodation.
- Allows meetings between different countries.
- Meetings can be arranged and cancelled at short notices and are conducted live.
- Access to files and data are readily available if needed.
- People does not have to leave their offices for long periods of time.
- Contributions to meetings such as expert’s opinion can be can be called upon from anyone for a short time.
- Recording can be made if required.
Disadvantages of audio and videoconferencing
- Videoconferencing is expensive
- Can be impersonal especially if you cannot see the person you are talking to, in case of teleconferencing.
- It may not be appropriate for every kind of situation.
- The conference maybe difficult to control sometimes.
There are many choices of communication available today. The method chosen by a communicator will depend the situation and the suitability of the method based on the requirement.