The Fundamentals of Communication

The Fundamentals of Communication: Communication is the process of sending information to oneself or another entity, usually via a language. Seeking to define ‘communication’ as a static word or unified discipline may not be as important as understanding communication as a family of resemblances with a plurality of definitions. Some definitions are broad, recognizing that animals can communicate, and some are narrower, only including human beings within the parameters of human symbolic interaction. Communication is a complex process.

The communication system is often categorized into six main components. Diagrammatically, the communication system can be shown as in figure 1.1. The six components and their public speaking analogs as identified from related literature are:

  • Transmitter: Speaker
  • Channels: Senses – speech, hearing, seeing, etc.
  • Message: Speaker’s topic
  • Receiver: Audience
  • Noise: Internal and external factors that affect message reception by the audience: e.g., daydreaming, traffic noise, etc.
  • Feedback: Audience reaction

Of the six components listed, the speaker has immediate control over only three: self, the methods of communication chosen (visual, auditory, etc.), and the message itself. The speaker can influence, but not control, the last three components: the audience, distractions, and audience response. It is the speaker’s role to focus attention on the audience to enhance the probability of the receipt of the message. This is done by selecting the type of communication pertinent to the message, establishing a point-of-view, and communicating its meaning to the receiver. The receiver forms a feedback message and uses the proper channel to transmit the message after decoding the message sent by the speaker. In the process of communication, noise hinders the reception of the message. Noise can be due to external factors or internal factors as mentioned earlier. Internal factors responsible for noise include intelligence, interest, ego clashes, motivation, attention, the relation between sender and receiver whereas external factors responsible for noise in the process of communication are related to the physical environment like weather, sound of the surrounding where communication process takes place.

Communication system by Sona Ahuja

To be effective; the speaker must consciously choose not only the subject matter of the presentation but also the personal impression being made and the rhetoiical tools being used. The impression of the speaker is formed by the receiver by interpreting both his verbal and non-verbal symbols. Hence, the speaker must assess his or her audience and, decide how best to reach them both verbally and non-verbally. Appropriate use of non-verbal communication could also minimize the noise in the process of communication to some extent. The speaker can interpret the non-verbal cues of the audience to minimize noise, such as their disinterest, discomfort, and attention level. The speaker himself can emit motivating, reinforcing, and attention-catching non-verbal cues to maintain the interest of the audience. Thus, non-verbal communication could enhance the intensity of verbal communication. The concept and role of different components of non-verbal communication are discussed in detail in the succeeding sections.


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