Types of Communication Media

We live in a society which needs communication for better arrangements and understanding of one another. For to communicate we find out tools which help us to communicate better. So it is important to be aware of the different types of communication medium available to you to communicate effectively. A communication medium is merely "how" your message is sent to the receiver. It is often referred to as the communication channel.

It's critical to realize that whenever you are communicating with any stakeholder that the medium you use to communicate your message is just as important as the message itself. Choosing the right types of communication medium is first and most about understanding your ambition with the communication. If you use the wrong medium, your message may never get through to the receiver or may be misunderstood.

When deciding which of the communication mediums would be best for your message, you should take into consideration the following factors;

a. The Purpose of the Communication
b. The Receiver
c. The Type of Information

Types of Communication Media
Now take a look at some of the different types of communication media available to communicate our message.

Face-to-Face Communication
Face-to-Face Communication
Face-to-face communication is any type of verbal or non-verbal communication where you are in the same physical location as the receiver carrying social interaction without any mediating technology. It is one of the basic elements of the social system, forming a significant part of individual socialization and experience gaining throughout one's life time. Similarly it is also central to the organization and development of various groups and organizations composed of those individuals.

Face-to-face communication is very powerful. You can communicate verbally with the words you speak as well as non-verbally through body language. It also allows you to get immediate feedback from the receiver so you can adjust how you are delivering your message if necessary. Despite the advent of many new information and communication technologies, face-to-face interaction is still widespread and popular. It is implied that face-to-face communication is the gold standard of communication, as it is described as the most efficient and informational one. It has been noted that face-to-face communication is the most useful form of verbal communication when the sender wants to persuade or motivate the receiver. In most of the cases it is still considered the preferred method for resolving problems and contentious issues and also found helpful and the best form of teaching.

Some examples of face-to-face communication include informal hallway chats, project meetings, annual performance reviews, and job interviews.

Two-Way Remote Communication
Cell Phone
Two-way remote communication is when you and the receiver are not in the same physical spaces but are able to receive real-time feedback from each other. Although you are able to receive immediate feedback from the receiver, the feedback is usually limited compared to face-to-face communication.
Some examples of two-way remote communication include video conferencing, teleconferencing, cell phone calls, SMS (i.e. texting) and walkie-talkie conversations.

Written Communication
Written Communication
Written communication is any type of communication that involves the written word. This can involve both formal and informal communications. A key distinction between written communication and face-to-face communication is that feedback from the receiver may not be immediate. Although most of us consider ourselves honest and ethical, we're all human and can forget things we've said or misunderstood things we've heard. One of the major benefits of written communication is that it can be used to document what has been said or agreed to. It also can be used to clarify ideas to avoid misunderstandings. Some examples of written communication include letters, email, contracts, SMS, reports and intranet content.

Land or mobile telephones have taken up the communication slack in businesses where distance and travel prevent face-to-face conversation. The telephone still allows immediate interaction between two parties in the communication. Mobile phones also expand your ability to communicate with people over distance. The lack of nonverbal or facial expressions removes those elements from the message. This can inhibit the ability to interpret the context or emotion of a message sender. The phone is also less personal than a face-to-face meeting.

Social Media Communication
Social Media Icons
Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Social media has become a very common form of communication. It combines characteristics of some of the other forms of communication such as written communication and two-way remote communication. It allows for real-time feedback with a written record of what has been communicated. What makes social media so powerful is the way it enables team collaboration. Examples of social media communication include instant messaging, Microsoft SharePoint, Facebook, LinkedIn, wikis and Twitter. Many of the web-based tools are also considered to be social media tools since they enable better collaboration.

E-mail is a vital communication channel for people who want to communicate with their relatives, employees or organizations which are geographically dispersed. E-mail allows for more flexible response times. You can send a message one day and receive a response in a few hours or the next day. It allows for conversation that isn't time-pressured, but can serve for fast turnaround times. It also allows for the inclusion of files, such as documents or images. E-mail is less personal than either face-to-face or phone. The missing context of the message may lead to misunderstandings or misinterpreted messages.

One-Way Audio and Video Communication
Video Conferencing
Another type of communication medium is one-way audio and video. With this type of communication you are recording your message to be listened to or viewed by your receiver at some time of their choosing. Examples include voicemail, podcasts and YouTube videos. Podcasts and videos are excellent for sharing information, especially for teaching purposes. You can present a lot of information that the receiver can go over at their convenience and as many times as they like.

Discussion Forums
Many companies maintain internal and external discussion forums through catalogs and websites. These carry files and other resources available to participants and allow them to engage in company-wide or small-group discussions about suggestions, problems and solutions on a wide range of topics. Forums offer a low-pressure way to present ideas and feedback. They allow the company to gain insights in a non-confrontational way. Lack of personal connectivity and the potential for anonymous postings are drawbacks. Similarly, delays can occur between comments and responses.

Strategically choosing the specific types of communication medium you use to get your messages across will help you successfully manage your projects. Always consider the purpose of your communication, the receiver of the message, and the type of information you are communicating when determining the best communication media for your message.