Modes of Communication

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Anatomy of the Throat and Esophagus

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 What Is a Mode of…
  • 1:18 Interpersonal Communication
  • 2:17 Interpretive Communication
  • 3:06 Presentational Communication
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gaines Arnold

Gaines has a Master of Science in Education.

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.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account