Modes of Communication

Modes of Communication
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  • 0:03 What Is a Mode of…
  • 1:18 Interpersonal Communication
  • 2:17 Interpretive Communication
  • 3:06 Presentational Communication
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson defines the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. You'll learn what sets each mode apart by exploring various examples.

What Is a Mode of Communication?

Jess and her classmates are studying speeches. After reading about persuasive speeches in their textbooks, they each wrote a speech to present to the class. Jess was worried about her presentation. Before giving her speech she took one of her classmates aside and said, 'I'm not sure if I'm prepared.' Her classmate laughed and said, 'C'mon Jess. You're always ready.' A few minutes later, Jess took her place in front of the class and presented the argument that local hunters are a valuable link in the chain of animal and habitat conservation. Afterwards, she took her seat with a feeling of relief.

Jess doesn't know it, but she just engaged in three modes of communication. She read about persuasive speech-making, conversed with her classmate, and presented a speech to the class. Let's dig a little deeper into the different modes of communication and explore how they work.

Mode is a term used to describe the way something is done or experienced. When we use the phrase mode of communication, we are describing the way communication is expressed. In other words, we are discussing the method of communication. There are three modes of communication:

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Interpretive communication
  • Presentational communication

Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is a two-way means of communication that allows the participants to evaluate and respond to each other. For example, two people who are speaking and listening to each other, either in a face-to-face conversation or over the phone, are participating in interpersonal communication. When people converse with each other through letters, email, text messages, or conversations on social media, they are also using the interpersonal mode of communication.

The key characteristic of interpersonal communication is that it involves a spontaneous exchange of information: One participant states information or expresses feelings, and the other participant listens to what is said and responds accordingly. Consider our earlier example. Jess expressed her nervousness about the speech to her classmate. The classmate listened to what Jess said and then responded with an encouraging statement. If Jess had shown confidence in her abilities, the classmate might have responded in another way.

Interpretive Communication

When Jess and her class read the section in their speech textbook about giving a persuasive speech, they were engaging in a one-way communication mode known as interpretive communication. It is interpretive because a writer or presenter provides the information, and the listener or reader (or viewer in the case of television and other forms of visual media) infers or interprets the ideas presented to them. Interpretive communication allows intake and dissection according to personal beliefs and understanding.

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