What is Oral Communication?

Oral communication establishes between two or more people using a shared language or code. Through a physical transmission medium, which was traditionally the air. However, today we can add the telephone or videoconference.

Oral communication allows us to transmit information, ideas, feelings, emotions, beliefs, opinions, attitudes, etc. To carry out verbal communication, we use the voice to reproduce the sounds of the language, form words, and create messages that cover the information we want to convey to our talker.

Characteristics of Oral Communication

  • It uses sound waves, that is, sound propagated in some physical medium to transmit information from one speaker to another.
  • Communication is brief and immediate and fades over time since the sound waves pass and are not well-maintains in the air.
  • It is face-to-face and direct, derived from the previous point, and means that it requires the interlocutors’ simultaneous (spatial and temporal) presence. It is impossible to talk to someone on the other side of the world (at least not without the help of some artifact or technology ) or someone who existed in the 15th century.
  • social –  links the interlocutors and allows them to create social ties of different types. Every human community has its communication mechanisms and a code that responds to its way of thinking and seeing the world.
  • It has support elements that are not part of the language, such as gestures or context. But, again, this contributes to not being able to think outside the specific moment in which it occurs.
  • It is usually improvised and more conversational, less formal and rigid, although there are also occasions when it tends to be the opposite, such as when giving a lecture.
  • It is usually bidirectional. The sender and receiver typically exchange their roles, allowing information to come and go between them.
  • It allows rectification since when the interlocutors are present, the communication’s terms can always clarify, misunderstandings explained, and necessary information added. However, it does not happen when reading a text where we are alone in front of what is on paper.

Elements of Oral Communication

Oral communication consists of two types of elements, which are:

Linguistic Elements – Oral Communication

Those that are typical of verbal languages, such as:

  • A channel which are the sound waves that carry sounds.
  • A message that contains the transmitted information is specific.
  • The code or language that encodes and decodes them to create a standard representation system between sender and receiver. If someone does not speak a similar language, communication is impossible.
  • The interlocutors are a sender (who encodes the message) and a receiver (who decodes it) who usually exchange their roles.

Extralinguistic Elements – Oral Communication

The context is the moment and space in which the conversation takes place, which can pose specific communication challenges or hinder the understanding of the message.
Gestures and pragmatic elements have nothing to do with what is said but with how it is said, what face is made, what is complete with the hands, how close it is said to the other, and a whole set of information that does not form part of the language, but which significantly modifies the information transmitted.

The personal capacities of each interlocutor, that is, their personal and particular capacity to communicate: the functioning of their anatomy, their linguistic competence, their linguistic training, etc.

Types of Oral Communication


Impulsive oral communication does not follow a plan, a theme, or a previously established structure but develops in the form of a dialogue between two or more people. An example of spontaneous oral communication is an informal conversation.


Planned oral communication is known as one that obeys a previously drawn plan, with guidelines, themes, or structures designs in advance. The said plan will guide the communication process within certain defined limits. This type of communication can be, in turn, of two kinds: multidirectional and unidirectional.


Planned oral communication is multidirectional when, within its interaction guidelines, it establishes the intervention of several interlocutors who offer their different opinions and approaches on a previously defined theme or matter. An example of this type of communication can be a debate.


We speak of unidirectional planned oral communication when only one issuer intervenes and addresses an audience to extensively expose a topic or issue. Examples of unidirectional communication are speeches, conferences, or master classes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Communication

Oral communication is appropriate for specific times or purposes, but it is not so helpful in certain circumstances.

Among the Advantages of Oral Communication are:

  • The diversity of terms that can use.
  • The possibility of obtaining an instant answer from the receiver.
  • The prospect of making clarifications at the moment.
  • The possibility of diverting the essential topic to discuss a specific topic.
  • The speed to resolve conflicts.

Among the Disadvantages of Oral Communication are:

  • The prospect of misunderstandings or different interpretations arises from what is definite.
  • The impossibility of reversing something said.
  • The lack of understanding of not handling the same system of signs is a huge disadvantage.
  • The receiver’s oral communication requires the demand for attention.
  • The process of legal matters contains a lack of formality.

Oral and Written Communication


Unlike oral communication, written communication is a technology invents by our species to satisfy the want to store information over time. It consists of some inscription on physical support or imperishable material, made according to the representation code.

That is, marks of some kind are made on a surface so that another person (or oneself at another time) can review them and retrieve the information encoded in the graphic marks. This can be done in different ways since there are different types of writing, but in general, they all respond to the same thing:

  • Preserve information to be retrieved visually (read) at another time or in another place.
  • Direct the information to a much broader and more dispersed public than face-to-face oral communication would allow. Just as public messages, newspapers, etc., allowed.
  • Plan and organize the message to ensure that the receiver captures the desired information in the desired way since the sender will surely not be present when this happens.
  • Writing is one of the most revolutionary technologies in the existence of humanity, so much so that its invention considers the end of Prehistory, since from that moment on, lasting sources narrate the events that occurred.


The transmission of information between two or more people through speech is called oral communication. The code is also a language. Communication intends to issue a message that reaches the receiver. It can be verbal and written.

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