Communication refers to the way we transfer information amongst ourselves. It helps us understand each other and achieve desired outcomes. Moreover, communication is the foundation of human relationships in personal and professional spheres.
However, there is not one way to communicate. People worldwide use various means, methods, and techniques to communicate. A hungry child who can’t speak yet might communicate hunger by crying. There are physical gestures, signs, and other ways to communicate in domestic life.
Similarly, an executive might have to use certain industry-specific jargon or mediums to communicate with the employees. These modes of communication are formally known as communication media, and this is where our today’s discussion will revolve around.
So, in this article, we will discuss what communication media is, what its types are, and some of its examples. Let’s dive in!
What is Communication Media?
Communication media refers to various means and methods of sending or receiving information or data. It comprises tools, technology, gestures, speech, and every way a person can transfer information to another person. Communication media is either verbal or non-verbal. Moreover, the sender and receiver must use a common language to make information exchange successful.
Communication media has different forms. For example, when you receive a message from the bank that you have crossed your credit limit, your bank gives you information through a verbal communication medium. Similarly, when you try to reach out to your target audience through various digital marketing methods, you are trying to transfer information about why your business can solve its problems using the internet as a communication medium.
There are two major forms of communication that we use today. Let’s have a look at them!
Forms of Communication
Analog media is a form of communication media that uses electrical signals of varying altitudes to transfer information from one point to another. Some of the most commonly used examples of analog communication media are televisions, radios, VCRs, land-line telephones, cassette music players, etc. Human speech is also an example of analog media.
Digital media is a form of communication media that uses discrete electrical signals in the form of ones and zeroes (bits or binary digits) to transfer information from one point to another. Digital media is often found in devices and technologies that use computers and processors. Today, everything from a smartphone to a calculator uses digital signals to process and transfer information. There are countless examples of digital media around us, such as email, text messages, social media advertisements, wireless calls, Bluetooth music, etc.
In simple terms, digital and analog media are channels that make mass communication possible. However, digital media is more prevalent in domestic as well as business arenas.
Types of Communication Media
Verbal communication is a communication medium that uses written or spoken words for information exchange. Verbal communication media is further divided into:
The oral communication medium uses spoken words for the exchange of information. It requires a language that is understood by the sender and receiver. Speaking and listening are two parts of oral communication.
For example, a company’s CEO is meeting with the board of directors. They use words and sentences to inform board members about the company’s performance in the previous quarter and other important affairs. The board members are also listening intently to everything the CEO has to say. This is oral communication media.
Written communication media uses written words for the exchange of information. Naturally, it also requires a language understood by the sender and receiver. Writing and reading are two parts of written communication.
For example, an employee emails their boss about why they won’t be able to come to the office tomorrow. The employee has to write the email while the boss has to read it to understand each other. The boss might also write an email to let the employee know if their request for leave is accepted or rejected. This is written communication media.
Non-verbal communication is a communication medium that doesn’t use spoken or written words to exchange information. Rather, it uses expressions, body language, gestures, and various signs to convey information. Non-verbal communication is further divided into:
People communicate using their facial expressions in different situations. This is why we can classify facial expressions as a type of communication media. When two people know each other well, they can exchange much information using this type of non-verbal communication.
It is important to note that persons involved in this type of communication know each other well or understand the meaning of those expressions. For example, you can tell someone is happy to see you if they smile when they look at you.
Gestures are another type of non-verbal communication media that refer to various actions like pointing fingers, waving hands, opening arms, turning away from someone, etc. They can help people transfer information using minimal speech.
For example, when you want to ask a person to sit down, you simply point your hand towards an empty chair without saying anything.
Our body language also transfers information with the way we stand, sit, and hold ourselves in the presence of others. A confident person might stand up straight with their neck held high and shoulders straight. Similarly, a nervous person might bite their nails, cross their arms, or look down. Body language can help others understand your thoughts and emotions.
Personal appearance is a non-verbal communication medium that can help people share information. For example, medical practitioners are easily distinguishable from others due to their white lab coats and a stethoscope.
There are multiple other non-verbal communication methods that help transfer information.
Examples include gaze, touch, proximity, silence, bowing, etc. They are informal communication methods learned intrinsically by being a part of a culture or society. Some non-verbal cues might be appropriate in one society or country, while in another country, those cues might be considered rude or offensive.
For instance, a simple smile is not a sign of politeness in Russian culture. You may be surprised to hear that Russians consider it a sign of unwillingness to reveal your true feelings.
Examples of Communication Media
Here are some common examples of different types of communication media.
Television is an example of communication media that uses verbal and non-verbal communication. The viewers receive information in an audio-visual format on a color or monochromatic screen. TV is one of the most revolutionary technologies in the world of business communication.
Today, you will find televisions in pretty much every household. On average, an American spends about 3 hours watching TV every day. People watch things like movies, documentaries, news shows, contests, music, and advertisements on television.
Before television, radio was a highly important communication medium for domestic and business purposes. The radio uses analog signals to transfer audio information using electromagnetic waves. Even though it is not as common today, people used the radio to listen to the news, shows, and sports just a few decades ago.
Print media refers to all kinds of written or visual communication media printed on paper. Examples of print media include newspapers, books, magazines, catalogs, brochures, posters, etc. Even though it used to be one of the most popular communication media, its popularity has seen a downward trend in the past couple of decades due to the rise of the internet and digital media.
The internet is by far the most popular form of communication media today. You can find all types of communication here, whether verbal or non-verbal. Websites like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have transformed communication practices, which is why most people prefer the internet over anything else. Whether it is entertainment or education you seek, you can find it on the internet.
Outdoor media or advertising is the type of communication media you come across outside your homes. Examples of outdoor advertising include billboards, placards, signs, posters, etc. More often than not, the purpose of outdoor media is to advertise a product or a service.
Communication media surrounds us today like the air we breathe. Whenever we talk to someone, watch an ad, play with kids, listen to music, or read a novel, we use communication media in one form or another.
It is also remarkable how technology has simply revolutionized the world of communication. With the advent of AI and IoT, the future of communication is likely to see unprecedented and jaw-dropping advancements.
What do you think about which emerging technologies will bring more changes to communication media? Let us know in the comments!