Among the various forms of communication, oral communication stands out as a fundamental and powerful tool. In this guide, we will explore its definition, importance, and various forms, while providing practical tips, examples, and strategies to enhance your oral communication skills.
Definition of oral communication
“Oral communication is the process of sharing information and creating meaning through the use of spoken language, including both formal and informal interactions.”
Author: Julia T. Wood
Reference: Wood, J. T. (2012). Interpersonal communication: Everyday encounters. Cengage Learning.
What is oral communication?
The process of exchanging information, thoughts, and ideas through spoken words is commonly referred to as oral communication. It is a fundamental form of human communication that allows individuals to interact, express themselves, and convey messages directly to others using speech.
Oral communication covers various aspects, including speaking, listening, and understanding. It is a dynamic process involving both verbal and nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
Nature of oral communication
The nature of oral communication is essentially dynamic and interactive. Unlike written communication, which relies on written words, oral communication involves direct interaction between individuals through spoken words. It allows for real-time exchanges, immediate feedback, and the ability to respond to the needs of the situation and audience.
Alongside spoken words, oral communication incorporates nonverbal cues, including facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. These cues can greatly enhance the message being conveyed.
Purpose of oral communication
Oral communication aims to effectively convey information through clear and concise vocal words. It fosters interaction, and relationship building, and facilitates collaboration among individuals.
Effective oral communication skills are vital in personal, and professional settings as they enable individuals to express themselves, listen actively, and respond appropriately to the needs of others.
Characteristics of oral communication
There are several key characteristics of oral communication that shape how it is used and understood. Understanding these characteristics is essential for developing effective oral communication skills and successfully navigating interpersonal interactions in various settings. These characteristics include:
1/ Dynamic and interactive: Oral communication involves a two-way exchange of information between a speaker and a listener. It is an interactive process that allows instant feedback and clarification.
2/ Verbal and nonverbal cues: Oral communication includes the use of spoken words as well as nonverbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language.
3/ Less formal: Oral communication is often less formal than written communication and may involve informal language. However, the level of formality can vary depending on the context of the communication.
4/ Spoken Words: Oral communication relies on spoken words as the primary medium of conveying messages. It involves the use of language, including vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation, to express thoughts and ideas.
5/ Contextual and Situational: Oral communication is highly dependent on the context and situation in which it takes place. Factors such as the audience, purpose, and cultural background influence the language, tone, and style used by the speaker.
Further Reading: What are the characteristics of oral communication
Types of oral communication
Oral communication can be categorized into several types based on different contexts and purposes. Each type has its own specific characteristics and purposes, and being proficient in each type of oral communication is crucial for effective interpersonal interactions. Here are some common types of oral communication:
1/ Group Discussions: Group discussions involve multiple participants engaging in an exchange of ideas, opinions, and perspectives on a specific topic. This type of oral communication enhances collaboration, problem-solving, and decision-making within a team.
2/ Public Speaking: This type of communication involves one individual speaking to a large group of people. Public speaking is often used for informative or persuasive purposes, such as delivering a keynote speech or presenting a proposal.
3/ Interviewing: This type of communication involves one individual asking questions of another individual. Interviews are often used in job interviews, media interviews, and research interviews.
4/ Video Conferencing: This form of communication is similar to face-to-face communication but takes place over video conferencing software. Video conferencing proves beneficial for remote teams and individuals unable to meet in private.
5/ Telephonic Communication: This type of communication involves two or more individuals communicating over the phone. Telephonic communication is useful for situations where face-to-face communication is not possible or practical, such as in long-distance relationships or business negotiations.
6/ Informal Conversations: Informal conversations occur when individuals engage in casual and Unplanned discussions with each other. Informal conversations occur in everyday settings such as social gatherings, family interactions, and friendly conversations.
Examples of oral communication
The below video demonstrates a live oral presentation example.
Examples of oral communication channels
- Oral Reports
- Interpersonal Conversations
- Speeches and Lectures
- Customer Service Calls
- Team Huddles
- Radio Broadcasting
Oral communication tools examples
- Voice Assistants: Virtual assistants activated by voice commands, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, offer convenient and hands-free interaction.
- Voice Recorders: Portable voice recorders or smartphone voice recording apps.
- Video Conferencing Tools: Video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Meet.
A demonstration of how we use Google Meet for day-to-day oral communication for remote working.
- VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): VoIP services, such as Skype, or Nextiva.
- Telephones: Traditional landline phones and mobile phones.
Elements of oral communication
1/ Speaker: The speaker is the individual or source who initiates and delivers the oral message. They are responsible for formulating their thoughts, organizing the message, and selecting appropriate language and delivery style to effectively communicate their ideas to the listener(s).
2/ Message: The message refers to the content and information intended by the speaker for communication. It combines both verbal and nonverbal components, such as words, tone of voice, facial expressions, gestures, and body language.
3/ Listener: The listener is the recipient of the oral communication. They receive process, and interpret the speaker’s message.
4/ Feedback: Feedback is the response given by the listener(s) to the message conveyed by the speaker. It can be verbal or nonverbal and helps the speaker understand the effectiveness of their communication.
5/ Channel: The channel refers to the medium or mode of communication used to transmit the oral message. It can include face-to-face conversations, telephone calls, video conferences, presentations, and more.
6/ Context: The context includes the environment in which oral communication occurs. It includes factors like physical location, cultural norms, social dynamics, and the topic of communication.
7/ Noise: Noise encompasses any form of interference or barriers that affects the smooth flow of effective communication. It can be external noise like distractions or internal noise like language barriers.
8/ Purpose: The purpose of oral communication is the objective or intention behind the communication.
What are oral communication skills?
Oral communication skills refer to the abilities and competencies that enable individuals to effectively convey their ideas, thoughts, and messages through spoken words.
These skills involve using language, tone of voice, body language, and other forms of nonverbal communication to engage listeners and convey messages clearly and persuasively.
1/ Active Listening skills: Active listening is a crucial skill in oral communication. It involves fully focusing on and understanding the speaker’s message, responding appropriately, and providing feedback or clarification when necessary.
2/ Presentation Skills: Presentation skills involve effectively delivering information to an audience in a well-organized manner. These skills encompass organizing content, using visual aids effectively, maintaining audience engagement, and delivering a confident and impactful presentation.
3/ Flexibility and Adaptability skills: Being flexible and adaptable in oral communication allows individuals to adjust their message, language, and approach based on the needs and preferences of the audience. It involves being open to different communication styles, cultural differences, and unexpected changes in the communication context.
4/ Conversation Skills: Conversation skills refer to the ability to engage in meaningful and productive conversations with others. This involves initiating and maintaining conversations and showing interest in others’ contributions.
5/ Discussion Skills: It involves participating in structured group discussions. It involves contributing ideas, listening to others, and providing feedback or responses. Effective discussion skills can help facilitate group decision-making, resolve conflicts, and promote collaboration and teamwork.
6/ Telephonic Communication Skills: Telephonic skills involve the ability to communicate effectively over the telephone. It includes speaking clearly and audibly, using appropriate language and tone, and being attentive to the listener’s needs and concerns.
Techniques for improving oral communication skills
- Practice Active Listening: Actively listening to others is a fundamental aspect of effective oral communication. Practice focusing your attention on the speaker, avoiding distractions can help you improve your oral communication skills. Active listening encompasses three key aspects:
- Cognitive: This involves actively paying attention to all information being communicated.
- Emotional: This aspect involves remaining calm and compassionate during the conversation.
- Behavioral: The final aspect of active listening involves conveying interest and comprehension both verbally and nonverbally.
- Expand Vocabulary: Enhancing your vocabulary can improve your ability to express ideas accurately and precisely.
- Use appropriate tone and pitch: Adapt your tone and pitch to match the context and audience.
- Seek Opportunities for Conversations and Discussions: Engage in conversations and discussions with others as much as possible.
- Use Visualization Techniques: Before important presentations or conversations, visualize yourself speaking confidently and effectively.
- Seek feedback and practice: Actively seek feedback from trusted individuals, such as mentors or colleagues, and work on areas that need improvement.
Benefits of improving oral communication skills
Improving oral communication skills can bring a range of benefits to both personal and professional environments. For instance, it can enhance one’s ability to express ideas clearly and effectively, which can help in building strong relationships, both at work and in personal space.
Moreover, clear communication can also help in avoiding misunderstandings, reduce conflicts, and promote collaboration and teamwork. Additionally, it can improve one’s public speaking abilities, which can help in presentations and speaking engagements.
Importance of oral communication
Effective interpersonal interactions rely heavily on oral communication. It allows us to express our thoughts, emotions, and ideas and enables us to understand others more deeply. Strong oral communication also fosters positive relationships, builds trust, and facilitates collaboration.
- Clarity and understanding: Through oral communication, individuals can effectively express complex ideas and information with clarity. It promotes better understanding and minimizes confusion or misinterpretation.
- Collaboration and teamwork: Effective oral communication is crucial for successful collaboration and teamwork. It enables individuals to exchange ideas, provide feedback, and work together towards common goals.
- Enhance Customer Service: In customer-facing roles, oral communication is essential for providing exceptional service. Clear communication helps understand customer needs, address concerns, and provide solutions.
- Persuasion and influence: Oral communication is a key tool for persuasion and influence. Through effective speaking skills, individuals can convince others to adopt their viewpoints, take action, or change their behavior.
- Problem-Solving: Effective oral communication is crucial for problem-solving and decision-making processes. It allows for effective sharing of information, active listening, and collaborative discussions.
Significance of oral communication at the organization level
Oral communication holds immense significance at the organizational level as it impacts various aspects of operations, leadership, decision-making, and external interactions. Effective oral communication ensures smooth information flow and coordination, improving productivity and collaboration within the organization.
It plays a critical role in leadership, allowing leaders to articulate their vision and inspire teams. Decision-making processes benefit from clear communication, facilitating informed discussions and consensus. Externally, effective oral communication builds relationships and satisfaction with stakeholders.
Role of oral communication in a professional context
In a professional context, oral communication plays a pivotal role in several aspects. It is essential for effective presentations and public speaking, allowing professionals to convey their ideas, and influence decision-making.
In fact, the Corporate Recruiters Survey indicates that oral communication skills are at the top of the list of abilities and skills that employers seek in their candidates.
Furthermore, oral communication is crucial in meetings and discussions, enabling effective collaboration, brainstorming, and problem-solving. It facilitates clear and concise instructions, and delegation, enhancing management abilities.
Overall, oral communication in a professional context is the cornerstone of effective teamwork, leadership, client interactions, and career advancement.
Methods of oral communication
The methods of oral communication can be divided into two categories, mechanical channels, and non-mechanical channels:
The mechanical channels include:
- Telephone conversations: Communication using telephones, where spoken messages are transmitted electronically.
- Voicemail: Leaving voice messages on an answering machine or voicemail system for others to listen to later.
- Conference calls: Communication between multiple parties in different locations through a telephonic connection, allowing for group discussions.
- Television broadcasting: Transmitting spoken messages along with visual content to a wide audience through television channels.
- Automated phone systems: Interactive voice response (IVR) systems that use pre-recorded prompts and voice recognition to provide information to appropriate destinations.
- Debates: Structured discussions involve participants presenting arguments and counterarguments on a specific topic in an organized manner
- Interviews: Verbal exchanges between an interviewer and interviewee(s), often used for research or employment purposes.
- Speeches: Prepared and structured presentations that convey a message or express thoughts and opinions, often delivered at public events.
- Conferences: Organized events that bring together experts, and professionals in a specific field to share information, discuss ideas, and network.
Modes of oral communication
Understanding the various modes of oral communication can help individuals effectively adapt their communication strategies based on the context, purpose, and audience involved in a given interaction.
There are two broad modes of oral communication:
1/ Intrapersonal communication: Intrapersonal communication refers to the mode of communication that occurs within an individual’s own mind. It involves the internal exchange and processing of thoughts and ideas. While it may not involve direct interaction with others, intrapersonal communication is essential for self-reflection, self-analysis, and decision-making.
2/ Interpersonal communication: This mode involves communication between two or more people in a face-to-face interaction, with each person taking turns to speak and listen. Interpersonal communication can be either formal or informal, and it is used in a variety of contexts, including personal relationships, business transactions, and social interactions.
Different styles of oral communication
There are several styles that individuals can employ when communicating orally, depending on the context, purpose, and audience. Here are a few common styles:
1/ Formal style: This style of oral communication is characterized by a structured and professional approach. It is commonly utilized in formal scenarios such as business meetings, presentations, or public speaking engagements.
2/ Persuasive style: This style of oral communication aims to influence or persuade the audience. It is often used in sales presentations, debates, or negotiations.
3/ Interactive style: Interactive style of oral communication involves active participation and engagement between the speaker and the audience.
4/ Storytelling style: This style involves the art of storytelling to captivate and engage the audience. It is often used in presentations, speeches, or public performances.
5/ Assertive style: Assertive style focuses on expressing thoughts, opinions, and needs confidently.
These are just a few examples of different styles of oral communication. It’s important to note that individuals may employ a combination of styles depending on the specific communication context.
Media of oral communication
In oral communication, the term “media” denotes the various means or channels through which information is transmitted. Vocal communication can be conveyed through various media, which can impact the message’s effectiveness and reach. Here are a few common media of oral communication:
- Broadcasting: Broadcasting involves transmitting oral communication through mass media channels such as television or radio. It allows for the spread of information to a large audience, but it is typically a one-way communication channel.
- Video conferencing: Video conferencing combines audio and video to enable communication between individuals or groups in different locations. It allows for visual and verbal communication, which can enhance the effectiveness of communication in remote settings.
- Press Conference: A press conference is a media event where a spokesperson or organization addresses the press and journalists to make announcements, provide information, or respond to questions. It allows for oral communication between the spokesperson and the media.
- Teleconferences: Teleconferences involve audio communication between multiple participants who are located in different places. It allows individuals or groups to hold meetings or discussions remotely, using telephonic connections or audio conferencing tools.
- Grapevine: Grapevine refers to the informal and unofficial communication network within an organization or community. It involves the transmission of information, rumors, or gossip through oral channels among individuals.
Principles of effective oral communication
The following principles serve as guidelines for enhancing the effectiveness of oral communication, allowing speakers to deliver their messages clearly and achieve the desired communication outcomes.
1/ Preparation: Effective oral communication requires proper planning and preparation, including understanding the audience, and determining the topic, timing, and other relevant factors.
2/ Clarity of Pronunciation: Clear and correct pronunciation is crucial for ensuring that the oral message is understood by the receivers. As communication can become confusing when there is a lack of clarity in the message being conveyed.
3/ Natural Voice: Using a natural voice helps maintain the authenticity and effectiveness of oral communication. Avoiding artificial or unnatural tones enhances the overall impact.
4/ Logical Sequence: Organizing ideas in a logical and sequential manner enhances the communicative and appealing nature of the message.
5/ Use of Suitable Words: Choosing appropriate and familiar words is crucial in oral communication. A simple and common language helps ensure that the receiver can easily understand and respond to the message.
6/ Courtesy: Demonstrating courtesy while addressing listeners creates a positive impression and fosters effective communication.
7/ Emotional Control: Effective oral communication requires the speaker to maintain emotional control.
8/ Control of Gesticulation: Conscious control of gestures is important in oral communication. Avoiding excessive or distracting gesticulation ensures that the focus remains on the message.
Further Reading: Guidelines for effective oral communication
Similarities between principles of oral communication and written communication
Both oral and written communication share fundamental principles that contribute to effective communication. Starting with clarity which is essential in both forms, emphasizing the need for clear and concise messages.
Understanding the audience which ensures that the message is tailored to the needs and interests of the receiver. Effective communication in both forms requires careful planning and preparation. Additionally, the use of appropriate tone and style enhances communication in both oral presentations and written documents.
Related Reading: Similarities of Oral and written communication
Barries of oral communication
- Technical barriers: Problems with equipment, technology, or software can interfere with good oral communication, especially in remote or virtual settings.
- Semantic barriers: Misinterpretation of words, phrases, or symbols due to ambiguity, double meanings, or lack of context can hinder the clarity and effectiveness of oral communication.
Related Reading: What are Semantic barriers of communication
- Language barriers: When the speaker and the listener don’t share a common language or when the speaker uses jargon, technical language, or unfamiliar words, it can create communication barriers.
- Physical barriers: Factors in the environment, such as noise, distance, and unfavorable conditions, can pose challenges to mutual understanding between the speaker and listener.
Related Reading: What are physical barriers in communication
- Lack of attention and active listening: When listeners are distracted, disengaged, or not actively paying attention to the speaker, it can hinder effective communication.
- Lack of feedback: Feedback plays a crucial role in oral communication as it allows the speaker to gauge the listener’s understanding and adjust their message accordingly. When there is a lack of feedback it can hamper effective communication.
Difference between communication and oral communication
Refers to the exchange of information and ideas between individuals or groups through a variety of means.
Refers specifically to the use of spoken language as a means of communication.
Can be either oral or written.
Is solely oral.
Includes nonverbal forms of communication such as body language and facial expressions..
Does not include nonverbal forms of communication.
Can occur in various settings such as in-person, online, and over the phone.
Primarily occurs in face-to-face settings.
Oral communication vs aural communication
Refers specifically to the use of spoken language as a means of communication.
Refers to the transmission and reception of sound or audio signals.
Requires a speaker and a listener.
Can occur without a speaker or listener present.
Can be both intentional and unintentional.
Is usually intentional.
Involves the use of language and words.
Can involve music, sound effects, and other non-linguistic forms of audio.
Oral vs purposive communication
Refers specifically to the use of spoken language as a means of communication
Refers to communication that is done with a specific goal or intention in mind.
Can be either formal or informal
Is always intentional and deliberate.
Can occur in various settings such as in-person, online, and over the phone
Can occur in any setting where communication takes place.
Can be either one-way or two-way
Is usually two-way.
Oral communication vs public speaking
Refers specifically to the use of spoken language as a means of communication.
Refers to the act of delivering a speech or presentation to an audience.
Can be either formal or informal.
Is usually formal and structured.
Can occur in various settings such as in-person, online, and over the phone.
Usually occurs in a public speaking setting such as a conference or a lecture hall.
Can be either one-way or two-way.
Is usually one-way, with the speaker delivering information to the audience.
Can be both prepared or spontaneous.
Is usually prepared in advance.
Advantages and disadvantages of oral communication
Advantages of Oral Communication
|Immediate feedback: Allows for instant feedback and clarification from the receiver, promoting better understanding.|
|Effective for emotional expression: Verbal cues such as tone of voice and facial expressions enhance the emotional impact of the message.|
|Interactive and engaging: Enables real-time interaction, discussion, and collaboration between participants.|
|Quick dissemination of information: Facilitates the rapid exchange of information, particularly in face-to-face or live settings.|
|Flexibility: Allows for adaptability and adjustments based on the audience’s reactions and comprehension levels.|
Disadvantages of Oral Communication
|Lack of record: As oral communication doesn’t offer a permanent record of the conversation, it can be challenging to recall specific details at a later time.|
|Potential for misinterpretation: Communication relies heavily on verbal cues, which can lead to misinterpretation if not expressed clearly or understood correctly.|
|Limited reach: Oral communication is restricted to the immediate participants, making it challenging to convey messages to a broader audience.|
|Dependency on the speaker: The effectiveness of oral communication depends on the speaking skills, clarity, and delivery of the speaker.|
|Distractions and noise: Environmental factors, background noise, or distractions can impact the clarity and effectiveness of oral communication.|
Further Reading: Strength and Weakness of oral communication
Advantages of written communication over oral communication
Written communication has several advantages over oral communication. Firstly, written communication is permanent, which means that the message can be revisited, reviewed, and referred back to if needed. Secondly, written communication is more precise and accurate, as it allows the writer to carefully choose the words and phrasing they use to convey their message.
Further Reading: Advantages of written communication over oral communication
Advantages of oral presentation
The oral presentation has several advantages that make it a powerful communication tool. One significant advantage is the ability to provide the opportunity for speakers to use body language, and tone to engage with the audience and create a strong emotional connection. Additionally, oral presentations allow for immediate feedback from the audience, which can help speakers to adjust their message in real-time.
Importance of audio visual aid on oral communication
Audiovisual aids are essential in oral communication as they enhance the effectiveness of the message by making it more engaging and memorable for the audience. It plays a crucial role in illustrating complex ideas and reinforcing key points, enhancing the overall verbal message. By using visual aids, the speaker can also maintain the audience’s attention, reducing the likelihood of distraction and increasing their engagement with the message.
Related Reading: Audio-visual communication advantages and Disadvantages
What factors to consider while choosing oral communication
When choosing oral communication as a means of conveying your message, there are several important factors to consider:
- Purpose and Audience: Clearly define the purpose of the communication and identify the target audience.
- Clarity: Focus on clarity and simplicity in your message.
- Content and Structure: Determine the key points and information to be delivered.
- Delivery Style: Consider the appropriate delivery style based on the nature of the message, audience, and context.
- Timing: Consider the appropriate timing for your communication.
- Technology and Visual Aids: Assess the need for technology or visual aids to enhance your oral communication.
Frequently Asked Question
Q1) What is oral communication and examples?
Ans: Oral communication involves communicating thoughts or concepts using spoken language. Examples include face-to-face conversations, phone calls, presentations, and group discussions.
Q2) Why is oral communication important?
Ans: Oral communication is important as it allows for immediate feedback, clarification, and personal connection, facilitating effective understanding and collaboration among individuals or within a group.
Q3) What is oral information?
Ans: Oral information refers to the transmission of knowledge or data through spoken words or verbal communication rather than in written or visual form.
Q4) What is oral communication in business communication?
Ans: Oral communication in business communication involves the verbal exchange of information, ideas, and instructions within an organizational context, such as meetings, negotiations, presentations, and interpersonal interactions.
Q5) What is another name for oral communication?
Ans: Another name for oral communication is spoken communication.
Q6) What is oral language?
Ans: Oral language refers to the ability to communicate effectively using spoken words. It encompasses vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and fluency in a particular language.
Q7) What is an oral presentation?
Ans: An oral presentation involves verbally conveying findings to an audience through spoken delivery. It often involves the use of visual aids and aims to inform, persuade, or entertain listeners.
Q8) Short note on oral communication?
Ans: Oral communication encompasses the interactive sharing of information. It allows for immediate interaction, feedback, and emotional connection, enhancing understanding and collaboration.
Q9) What is visual communication?
Ans: Visual communication refers to the conveyance of information or ideas through visual elements, such as graphs, charts, images, and videos, to effectively communicate and engage with an audience.
Q10) What is written communication?
Ans: Written communication utilizes written words as a means to effectively convey messages. It includes emails, reports, memos, letters, and other written forms of expression.
Q11) What is verbal communication?
Ans: Verbal communication is the use of spoken words to convey messages, ideas, or information between individuals or within a group. It includes face-to-face conversations, phone calls, and oral presentations.
Q12) What is non-verbal communication?
Ans: Non-verbal communication refers to the transmission of messages or expressions without the use of words. It uses body language, facial expressions, gestures, and other visual cues to convey the message to the receiver.