“Man is by nature a social animal,” the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote more than 2,000 years ago.
And communication lies at the heart of all social relationships.
From the time you enter this world, you start communicating. Your first cry is your first attempt at verbal communication. And as you start growing, you find newer ways of communication. You learn to form words and sentences to communicate.
This is the beginning of verbal communication.
What Is Verbal Communication?
Verbal communication means effectively presenting your thoughts in verbal format i.e., by talking. Verbal communication skills are essential in the world of business. Be it a weekly meeting or presentation to stakeholders, the importance of verbal communication is unparalleled. People always remember a person who speaks clearly, effectively, confidently, and charismatically.
For instance, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’s speech launching the iPhone is a classic example of brilliant verbal communication that people remember even today. Similarly, many speeches made by former US President Barack Obama are also unforgettable.
A powerful speaker is also able to connect with their audience easily. Like Oprah Winfrey says, “Great communication begins with a connection.”
You too can be a great speaker with practice. Most of us possess the means of verbal communication, what’s important is to recognize how to maximize them. Read on to learn more about its distinct characteristics.
Characteristics Of Verbal Communication
Before we explore the various defining features of verbal communication, let’s look at its primary form. Verbal communication is oral in nature. Oral communication encompasses various activities such as talking, laughing or listening. We often navigate different emotional situations through oral forms of communication.
We also have written communication that includes script, alphabets, acronyms, logos and graphics. To interpret written messages, everyone involved must understand the code (e.g., the language). This is different from verbal or spoken communication.
There are several characteristics that are specific to verbal communication, namely:
The message being communicated is directly or indirectly related to an object
We use concepts to communicate messages
The content should be understood by both the sender and receiver
Cultural factors influence the content of messages
While communicating emotions and feelings, a sender’s state of mind influences the content of messages
Even though we talk to our friends, family and coworkers on a regular basis, we may not always be aware of how we’re communicating. Mastering the art of verbal communication will help you in more ways than one. Let’s explore different types of verbal communication and how your audience factors into it.
Types Of Verbal Communication
Verbal communication goes beyond words, sounds and languages. You need to know your audience to talk to them better. Remember that you can follow the Pyramid Principle and start with your main argument and then follow up with supporting statements. You can classify verbal communication into four types based on your audience.
This is your private verbal communication channel. You talk to yourself and articulate your thoughts. Communicating with yourself will give you more confidence and clarity in your thoughts. It’ll help you make up your mind, form your sentences, find suitable words and effective ways to connect with other people. This will help you gain your colleagues’ trust in the workplace.
You can also call this one-to-one verbal communication. This type of communication happens between two individuals. It helps you understand if you’re getting your thoughts across clearly. Reactions, responses and verbal and nonverbal cues from the other person will help you understand whether you’re being understood or not. Make sure that you listen to the other person intently. Communication doesn’t just mean to talk to someone. It’s also about listening. So, listen, think and then respond. Take time to think and make sure you don’t offend people with your response.
Small Group Communication
The number of people increases in small group communication. You move from communicating with a single participant to a few more. These small groups could be team meetings, board meetings or sales meetings. The number of participants is small enough for everyone to communicate with each other. When you attend small group meetings, be prepared with a topic to make sure you stay on track. Stay on topic and allow enough time for everyone to present their thoughts.
You may also know this type as ‘public speaking’. Here, an individual addresses a large number of people at once. Speeches, election campaigns and presentations are a few examples of public communication. Since the number of people in the audience is larger in this type of communication, be sure to use words and phrases they’ll understand easily and structure your thoughts before addressing the audience. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel like a public speaker.
Verbal communication is a broad topic. There are various elements that help us organize our thoughts around it. They are:
When you express yourself your tone determines the message to be interpreted. For example, you can be saying something nice but if your tone is a sarcastic tone, the message will be conveyed differently. Your tone makes a huge difference to your speech.
The pace at which you speak is important as it determines the reaction of your audience. You may have attended lectures or webinars where people speaking slowly and softly can get boring. Similarly, it may be difficult to understand someone speaking at a rapid pace.
Volume ranges from a whisper to a scream. The volume at which you talk can convey various meanings. For example, if you whisper into someone’s ears in the presence of multiple people, it can be misconstrued as something negative. On the other hand, screaming while someone is talking is rude. Always monitor your volume depending on the social context you’re in.
Additionally, language, grammar and vocabulary are critical aspects of verbal communication. An erroneous message to a hiring manager, for example, can make or break your career opportunity. This is why verbal communication is a critical skill for success in professional settings as well. Effective communication helps with decision-making and increases collaboration in teams. Let’s look at the benefits of different types of verbal communication.
Advantages Of Verbal Communication
Verbal communication is one of the most important mediums of communication. The stronger your communication skills are, the easier it is for you to establish trust and build lasting relationships with others. Here are some benefits of strong verbal communication skills:
It provides complete understanding and there’s room to clarify any messages that may have been misunderstood
It’s one of the fastest modes of communication and is time-efficient
There is space for providing feedback, which allows two or more people to engage in a conversation at the same time
It allows speakers to exercise influence and persuade listeners to agree with ideas, thoughts and opinions
It’s flexible, that is, you can change your language and tone depending on the situation you’re in or the relationship you share with an individual
In short, verbal communication is one of the most reliable methods of communication. Its benefits apply to the world of work as well. Let’s look at the various ways in which strong verbal communication skills can be beneficial for professionals:
Verbal communication allows you to build strong interpersonal relationships. It’s easier when you find like-minded people who share similar interests, ideas and outlooks. This further encourages you to cooperate, collaborate and engage in teamwork.
In professional settings, you need to exert a certain amount of influence to get things going. For example, if you want your coworkers to join your project, you need to be able to convince them first. Even in brainstorming sessions, you need to be able to convince others of your ideas and perspectives.
As verbal communication enables feedback, you can provide clarity to your message by repeating yourself. For example, in conflicts or arguments, you can repeat your message so that there’s no room for ambiguity.
With proper communication in place, you can communicate effectively with team members and people across the organization. Well-established relationships enhance the process, allowing you to cooperate and collaborate quickly. Group discussions and teamwork maximize output, therefore increasing productivity.
Verbal communication plays a crucial role in providing feedback and recognizing individual effort. Whether it’s a congratulatory speech or email, words of support and appreciation boosts confidence levels. If you’re a manager, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate your team’s success and efforts. Not only will they get encouraged to do better, but it also cements your relationship with them.
Therefore, effective verbal communication opens up a two-way street that allows individuals to interact, engage and collaborate with each other, improving organizational efficiency and productivity. On an individual level, it helps you become more confident and a well-rounded professional.
Harappa offers two courses to build your communication skills—Writing Proficiently and Speaking Effectively. They’ll help you break the barriers and connect with your colleagues and the people around you. With key frameworks like the Pyramid Principle and PAM (Purpose-Audience-Message), you’ll learn how to communicate with impact.
Explore blogs on topics such as effective communication, the 7 barriers of communication, types of nonverbal communication, the different types of communication, and verbal and nonverbal communication on Harappa Diaries to make your world of work better.