Oral communication is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another. Oral communication can be either formal or informal.
Formal types of oral communication include
- Presentations at business meetings
- Classroom lectures
- Commencement speeches given at a graduation ceremony
Examples of informal oral communication include
- Face-to-face conversations
- Telephone conversations
- Discussions that take place at business meetings
In oral communication, words should be chosen very carefully so that what they connote has the precise shade of meaning. The sender of the message or his representative is usually the speaker, while the receiver or his representative, the listener. Listening is also an important aspect of oral communication.
With advances in technology, new forms of oral communication continue to develop. Video phones and video conferences combine audio and video so that workers in distant locations can both see and speak with each other. Other modern forms of oral communication include podcasts (audio clips that you can access on the Internet) and Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows callers to communicate over the Internet and avoid telephone charges. Skype is an example of VoIP.
Merits of oral communication
(i) Saving of time and money
Oral communication saves money as well as time. No money needs to be spent for producing oral communication since it involves only the spoken word. Oral communication is, therefore, economical.
Secondly, there is hardly any delay from the time when the sender sends the message and the receiver receives it. The words are received and understood as soon as they are spoken. Oral communication, therefore, saves time, too.
(ii) Immediate feedback
The feedback in most oral communication is immediate. The words are received as soon as they are spoken, and the receiver can also give his reaction immediately. The speaker can gauge the mood and the response of the listener. The immediate feedback is an advantage for the speaker.
(iii) Saves paperwork
Paperwork is minimal since communication is in the form of spoken words.
(iv) An effective tool for exhortation
When the communication is oral, you can try to persuade the listener. Doubts can be cleared immediately.
(v) Builds a healthy climate
A friendly atmosphere is created when you communicate orally since there is less formality. You can also make modifications in the communication immediately on the basis of the feedback and response from the listener.
(vi) Best tool during emergency
Oral communication is the quickest tool during an emergency. It is the best method of communication when an immediate and fast response is critical.
Demerits of oral communication (limitations)
(i) Greater chances of misunderstanding
Unless it is recorded, you cannot refer to an oral message again. There are, therefore, greater chances of a message being misunderstood or misinterpreted. In fact, there is also a chance that the message may not be understood at all.
(ii) Bad speaker
Only an individual who can satisfy all the requisites of effective oral communication can produce good results. More often than not, a bad speaker may send the wrong message. When speaking, one communicates through the articulation, voice modulation and body language, too.
A message may be misunderstood if there is a disharmony among these components. Also, as mentioned earlier, what the words connote and what they denote should be in harmony, else the message may lead to a conflict in understanding.
(iii) Ineffective for lengthy communication
Oral communication is not useful for lengthy communication. Because of human limitations, there is every likelihood that something important will be missed out.
(iv) Lower retention rate
Oral communication suffers from the drawback of a low retention rate. A listener may absorb only some part of an oral message since the attention span differs from person to person. People also tend to forget an oral message quickly.
(v) No legal validity
Oral communication lacks proof of record. There is no permanent record or proof of what has been said. An individual who has given a message may deny it later; similarly, an individual who has been given an oral message or instruction may say he never received it. Hence, oral communication has very little value from the legal point of view.
(vi) Difficult to fix responsibility
Since a message is transmitted orally, it is difficult to fix responsibility. This may also lead to carelessness in the implementation of a message.
Factors in oral communication
(i) The speaker
(ii) How he speaks
(iii) What he speaks
(iv) To whom he speaks
(v) Whether he receives a feedback
Pre-requisites of oral communication
(i) Clear and proper pronunciation of words
(ii) Clarity and exactitude
(iv) Right tone
(v) Right style and vocabulary