Choosing Your Channel of Communication: Oral, Written, Visual & Electronic

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  • 0:01 Channels of Communication
  • 0:35 Oral Communication Channel
  • 2:24 Written Communication Channel
  • 3:44 Visual Communication Channel
  • 4:48 Electronic…
  • 6:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Sometimes how you deliver information is just as important as what information you deliver to an audience. It is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages to the four different types of communication channels: oral, written, visual and electronic.

Channels of Communication

It is very important in the workplace to choose the correct channel of communication, whether it be oral, written, visual or electronic. Sarah works as the public relations executive for USA Cars in Detroit, Michigan. USA Cars has faced much adversity with their vehicles due to faulty design. The latest issue is that consumers have been seriously injured due to a defect in their cars' braking system.

Sarah has been called into the meeting with top executives to work out a communications plan. She will be using all forms of communication to educate consumers and protect the company. Let's see how she does it.

Oral Communication Channel

Sarah first decides to use oral communication to transmit her voice through telephone, face-to-face conversations and business meetings in order to fully understand the safety issues with USA Cars. She spends the first part of managing the crisis checking her facts and discussing the situation face to face with executives, engineers and the legal team. She is even able to use oral communication with the engineering team located in North Carolina through voice-enabled web interview software.

Sarah prefers to use oral communication when time is limited and information is needed quickly, because it can aid in solving conflict by facilitating discussion among many people at the same time and it helps solidify ideas and create a solution that can lead to positive results. In this situation, Sarah felt that oral communication allowed her to speak directly to the employees involved in the issue. She was able to quickly acquire information about the brake issue and meet with others to discuss a plan to fix the problem.

In the past, Sarah has not always used oral communication. Sarah has communicated through non-verbal means to provide documentation for complicated issues. Sarah was very concerned that the specifics of the recall needed to be put in writing for legal reasons.

The biggest issue Sarah has with oral communication is that it sometimes can be misinterpreted, which can lead to more serious issues. In the faulty brake issue, Sarah preferred to follow up her oral discussions with written confirmation of the plan and details. She misinterpreted what one company attorney had told her. She thought that the company would be paying set amounts to all car owners, and instead the legal team meant that only those seriously injured would receive stipends.

Written Communication Channel

Sarah next proceeded to document her findings through the use of written communication, which is the use of a printed message. Some examples of written communication in the workplace are letters, training manuals, memos, proposals and emails. In the instance of the brake crisis, Sarah has used emails and memos to document the problem and the company's proposal for a solution.

She has a written legal summary that she will use for her public relations announcement that the company will be recalling all of the effected cars for a recall and provide medical reimbursement and damages to anyone hurt by the brake failure. The advantages of using written communication are that it is a permanent record, documents are easy to store and retrieve, many people can read it at once and the receiver can read it whenever they have time.

The main disadvantage is that written communication is much slower but the message is clear and understandable. Immediate feedback is not likely to occur, so this impedes immediate modification to the message. Sarah had this difficulty as the original legal proposal was confusing to her in many areas. She wanted to know how consumers were going to be notified about receiving damages. She had to postpone the announcement for over a day until she heard back from legal in writing. If it was a verbal exchange, she would have received an immediate response.

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