One-Way Communication: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Defining One-Way Communication
  • 1:18 One-Way Informational Examples
  • 2:15 One-Way Persuasion Examples
  • 3:22 One-Way Entertainment Examples
  • 4:03 One-Way Command Examples
  • 4:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Raudenbush
We often think of communication as a back-and-forth process; however, communication doesn't have to be a two-way street. We'll explore the definition of one-way communication, as well as look at some examples.

Defining One-Way Communication

Picture an enormous crowded lecture hall. A professor steps up to a podium. The audience goes quiet. The professor begins to speak about, let's say, quantum string theory. He speaks for an hour and a half, and then he steps down and walks away without exchanging a word with anyone in the room. That's how one-way communication works.

Communications theorists use simple models to describe how information flows between parties. The model uses three pieces: a sender, a receiver and a message. In one-way communication, a sender delivers a message to a receiver, but nothing flows back to the sender.

Sometimes, one-way communication occurs because of the medium or method of communication. When you read a book, newspaper, or even this website, you play the part of the receiver in one-way communication. In these cases, the information moves in one direction because time and space separate the sender and the receiver. Print is a one-way communication medium.

In the lecture hall, purpose separates the sender and receiver. The purpose of the lecture is to deliver, rather than exchange, information. To inform, to persuade, to entertain and to command are all common purposes for one-way communication, and we'll discuss each of these in this lesson.

One-Way Informational Examples

Many school days start with a principal, teacher or other individual reading a list of morning announcements. As much as students and teachers might want to shout back at the speaker, there is no point in yelling at the intercom when the information is flowing one-way.

Watch an informational YouTube video lately? That's another example of one-way communication used to inform. Sure, you can comment, and whoever uploaded the video can comment back, but that exchange occurs after the fact, if it occurs at all. A mind-boggling amount of one-way communication flows across the Internet in text, graphic and video form, all intended to provide information

Perhaps the most popular form of one-way communication sits in your living room. All sorts of information flows from your television set all day long. News and talk radio deliver one-way information in the same way. Unlike your computer, which can send and receive depending on how you use it, televisions and radios can only deliver messages.

One-Way Persuasion Examples

Often, a sender uses one-way communication to persuade. The sender makes a case to the receiver who usually has some decision to make when the message ends. Think of a lawyer making a case before a jury or a politician delivering a speech. The persuasive message moves one way.

Television commercials are perfect examples of one-way communication. In thirty seconds, you receive a message about what to buy, where to go on vacation, who to vote for or what medicine to take. Based on that short amount of one-way persuasive communication, you can make a choice that could alter a huge part of your life. Advertising, whether print or electronic, is one-way communication with a persuasive bend.

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