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Old Sunday, August 03, 2008
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Communication
  • The Term Communication means
Types of Communication
  • Verbal Communication
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Formal Communication
  • Informal Communication

Communication Channels
  • What are Communication Channels
  • What is the Importance of the Communication Channels
Communication Process
  • S.M.C.R Models
    • Roles of SMCR
      • S(ender)
        • Who is saying
      • M(essage)
        • What is saying
      • C(hannel)
        • What is the Source of M(essage)
      • R(eceiver)
        • For whom is the M(essage)
  • Key Components Of Comm.Process
    • Encoding
    • Medium of transmission
    • Decoding
    • Feedback


Principles of Communication
  • Oral Communications
    • Spoken
  • Visual Communications
    • With the Help of Visual adds and Graphics
  • Written Communications
    • In the Form of Written material i.e Books, articles etc.
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Communication

If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now. ~ Woodrow Wilson

Communication is a process that involves exchange of information, thoughts, ideas and emotions. Communication is a process that involves a sender who encodes and sends the message, which is then carried via the communication channel to the receiver where the receiver decodes the message, processes the information and sends an appropriate reply via the same communication channel.

Communication is a learned skill. Most people are born with the physical ability to talk, but we must learn to speak well and communicate effectively. Speaking, listening, and our ability to understand verbal and nonverbal meanings are skills we develop in various ways. We learn basic communication skills by observing other people and modeling our behaviors based on what we see. We also are taught some communication skills directly through education, and by practicing those skills and having them evaluated.

Communication as an academic discipline relates to all the ways we communicate, so it embraces a large body of study and knowledge. The communication discipline includes both verbal and nonverbal messages. A body of scholarship all about communication is presented and explained in textbooks, electronic publications, and academic journals. In the journals, researchers report the results of studies that are the basis for an ever-expanding understanding of how we all communicate.
Communication teachers and scholars, in 1995, developed a definition of the field of communication to clarify it as a discipline for the public. That definition is now used by the U.S. Department of Education in its national publication, Classification of
Instructional Programs, 2000:

The field of communication focuses on how people use messages to generate
meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels, and media. The field promotes the effective and ethical practice of human communication.

Types of Communication


Communication can occur via various processes and methods and depending on the channel used and the style of communication there can be various types of communication.

Types of Communication Based on Communication Channels

Based on the channels used for communicating, the process of communication can be broadly classified as verbal communication and non-verbal communication. Verbal communication includes written and oral communication whereas the non-verbal communication includes body language, facial expressions and visuals diagrams or pictures used for communication.

* Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is further divided into written and oral communication. The oral communication refers to the spoken words in the communication process. Oral communication can either be face-to-face communication or a conversation over the phone or on the voice chat over the Internet. Spoken conversations or dialogs are influenced by voice modulation, pitch, volume and even the speed and clarity of speaking. The other type of verbal communication is written communication. Written communication can be either via snail mail, or email. The effectiveness of written communication depends on the style of writing, vocabulary used, grammar, clarity and precision of language.

* Nonverbal Communication

Non-verbal communication includes the overall body language of the person who is speaking, which will include the body posture, the hand gestures, and overall body movements. The facial expressions also play a major role while communication since the expressions on a personís face say a lot about his/her mood. On the other hand gestures like a handshake, a smile or a hug can independently convey emotions. Non verbal communication can also be in the form of pictorial representations, signboards, or even photographs, sketches and paintings.

Types of Communication Based on Style and Purpose

Based on the style of communication, there can be two broad categories of communication, which are formal and informal communication that have their own set of characteristic features.

* Formal Communication

Formal communication includes all the instances where communication has to occur in a set formal format. Typically this can include all sorts of business communication or corporate communication. The style of communication in this form is very formal and official. Official conferences, meetings and written memos and corporate letters are used for communication. Formal communication can also occur between two strangers when they meet for the first time. Hence formal communication is straightforward, official and always precise and has a stringent and rigid tone to it.

* Informal Communication

Informal communication includes instances of free unrestrained communication between people who share a casual rapport with each other. Informal communication requires two people to have a similar wavelength and hence occurs between friends and family. Informal communication does not have any rigid rules and guidelines. Informal conversations need not necessarily have boundaries of time, place or even subjects for that matter since we all know that friendly chats with our loved ones can simply go on and on.

Communication Channels

Communication can be split into two parts -- the message or content, and the channel it's transmitted on. For example, you may want to communicate something about your emotional state -- let's say that you are angry. You can communicate that over a number of channels. You could write a letter. You could send email. You could communicate it non-verbally or para-verbally. You could send a tape recording of your ranting about why you are angry. Those are all different channels.

Importance of Channels in communication

What's important is that different communication channels have different strengths and weaknesses. If, for example, the CEO of a company wants to communicate there will be layoffs within the company, s/he could simply send a bulk email to all staff, and leave it at that? Would that be the best channel to use for that kind of message? Probably not. The use of email would convey a lack of sincere concern on the CEO's part.

If you want to tell someone you love them, is it best to send them a form letter, or maybe it would be best to do it face-to-face? Sort of obvious.

Unfortunately, it's not uncommong for someone to pick the wrong communication channels because they are fearful, or simply want to choose the easiest path in the short term. Usually, this results in limited short term avoidance, but long term problems that go on and on. Think about and choose the best channels for the specific message.

Communication Process





Communication can best be summarized as the transmission of a message from a sender to a receiver in an understandable manner. The importance of effective communication is immeasurable in the world of business and in personal life. From a business perspective, effective communication is an absolute must, because it commonly accounts for the difference between success and failure or profit and loss. It has become clear that effective business communication is critical to the successful operation of modern enterprise. Every business person needs to understand the fundamentals of effective communication.

Currently, companies in the United States and abroad are working toward the realization of total quality management. Effective communication is the most critical component of total quality management. The manner in which individuals perceive and talk to each other at work about different issues is a major determinant of the business success. It has proven been proven that poor communication reduces quality, weakens productivity, and eventually leads to anger and a lack of trust among individuals within the organization.

The communication process is the guide toward realizing effective communication. It is through the communication process that the sharing of a common meaning between the sender and the receiver takes place. Individuals that follow the communication process will have the opportunity to become more productive in every aspect of their profession. Effective communication leads to understanding.

Key Components Of Comm.Process


* Encoding
* Medium of transmission
* Decoding
* Feedback

The communication process is made up of four key components. Those components include encoding, medium of transmission, decoding, and feedback. There are also two other factors in the process, and those two factors are present in the form of the sender and the receiver. The communication process begins with the sender and ends with the receiver.

The sender is an individual, group, or organization who initiates the communication. This source is initially responsible for the success of the message. The sender's experiences, attitudes, knowledge, skill, perceptions, and culture influence the message. "The written words, spoken words, and nonverbal language selected are paramount in ensuring the receiver interprets the message as intended by the sender" (Burnett & Dollar, 1989). All communication begins with the sender.

The first step the sender is faced with involves the encoding process. In order to convey meaning, the sender must begin encoding, which means translating information into a message in the form of symbols that represent ideas or concepts. This process translates the ideas or concepts into the coded message that will be communicated. The symbols can take on numerous forms such as, languages, words, or gestures. These symbols are used to encode ideas into messages that others can understand.

When encoding a message, the sender has to begin by deciding what he/she wants to transmit. This decision by the sender is based on what he/she believes about the receivers knowledge and assumptions, along with what additional information he/she wants the receiver to have. It is important for the sender to use symbols that are familiar to the intended receiver. A good way for the sender to improve encoding their message, is to mentally visualize the communication from the receiver's point of view.

To begin transmitting the message, the sender uses some kind of channel (also called a medium). The channel is the means used to convey the message. Most channels are either oral or written, but currently visual channels are becoming more common as technology expands. Common channels include the telephone and a variety of written forms such as memos, letters, and reports. The effectiveness of the various channels fluctuates depending on the characteristics of the communication. For example, when immediate feedback is necessary, oral communication channels are more effective because any uncertainties can be cleared up on the spot. In a situation where the message must be delivered to more than a small group of people, written channels are often more effective. Although in many cases, both oral and written channels should be used because one supplements the other.

If a sender relays a message through an inappropriate channel, its message may not reach the right receivers. That is why senders need to keep in mind that selecting the appropriate channel will greatly assist in the effectiveness of the receiver's understanding. The sender's decision to utilize either an oral or a written channel for communicating a message is influenced by several factors. The sender should ask him or herself different questions, so that they can select the appropriate channel. Is the message urgent? Is immediate feedback needed? Is documentation or a permanent record required? Is the content complicated, controversial, or private? Is the message going to someone inside or outside the organization? What oral and written communication skills does the receiver possess? Once the sender has answered all of these questions, they will be able to choose an effective channel.

After the appropriate channel or channels are selected, the message enters the decoding stage of the communication process. Decoding is conducted by the receiver. Once the message is received and examined, the stimulus is sent to the brain for interpreting, in order to assign some type of meaning to it. It is this processing stage that constitutes decoding. The receiver begins to interpret the symbols sent by the sender, translating the message to their own set of experiences in order to make the symbols meaningful. Successful communication takes place when the receiver correctly interprets the sender's message.

The receiver is the individual or individuals to whom the message is directed. The extent to which this person comprehends the message will depend on a number of factors, which include the following: how much the individual or individuals know about the topic, their receptivity to the message, and the relationship and trust that exists between sender and receiver. All interpretations by the receiver are influenced by their experiences, attitudes, knowledge, skills, perceptions, and culture. It is similar to the sender's relationship with encoding.

Feedback is the final link in the chain of the communication process. After receiving a message, the receiver responds in some way and signals that response to the sender. The signal may take the form of a spoken comment, a long sigh, a written message, a smile, or some other action. "Even a lack of response, is in a sense, a form of response" (Bovee & Thill, 1992). Without feedback, the sender cannot confirm that the receiver has interpreted the message correctly.

Feedback is a key component in the communication process because it allows the sender to evaluate the effectiveness of the message. Feedback ultimately provides an opportunity for the sender to take corrective action to clarify a misunderstood message. "Feedback plays an important role by indicating significant communication barriers: differences in background, different interpretations of words, and differing emotional reactions" (Bovee & Thill, 1992).

The communication process is the perfect guide toward achieving effective communication. When followed properly, the process can usually assure that the sender's message will be understood by the receiver. Although the communication process seems simple, it in essence is not. Certain barriers present themselves throughout the process. Those barriers are factors that have a negative impact on the communication process. Some common barriers include the use of an inappropriate medium (channel), incorrect grammar, inflammatory words, words that conflict with body language, and technical jargon. Noise is also another common barrier. Noise can occur during any stage of the process. Noise essentially is anything that distorts a message by interfering with the communication process. Noise can take many forms, including a radio playing in the background, another person trying to enter your conversation, and any other distractions that prevent the receiver from paying attention.

Successful and effective communication within an organization stems from the implementation of the communication process. All members within an organization will improve their communication skills if they follow the communication process, and stay away from the different barriers. It has been proven that individuals that understand the communication process will blossom into more effective communicators, and effective communicators have a greater opportunity for becoming a success.
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Principles of Communication

Outline
  • Introduction
  • Oral Communications
  • Visual Communications
  • Written Communications

Introduction

Interpersonal communication is the foundation of human interaction. Its importance for innovation and change can hardly be overemphasized. In this section, communication from different viewpoints including listening and speaking is ex.

Objectives

* To introduce communication and to demonstrate the importance of communication in a variety of contexts including that of the manager of innovation and change.

* To evaluate and discuss the characteristics of good communication and how to improve our communication.

Communication is a two-way process of giving and receiving information through any number of channels. Whether one is speaking informally to a colleague, addressing a conference or meeting, writing a newsletter article or formal report, the following basic principles apply:

* Know your audience.
* Know your purpose.
* Know your topic.
* Anticipate objections.
* Present a rounded picture.
* Achieve credibility with your audience.
* Follow through on what you say.
* Communicate a little at a time.
* Present information in several ways.
* Develop a practical, useful way to get feedback.
* Use multiple communication techniques.

Communication is complex. When listening to or reading someone else's message, we often filter what's being said through a screen of our own opinions. One of the major barriers to communication is our own ideas and opinions.

There's an old communications game, telegraph, that's played in a circle. A message is whispered around from person to person. What the exercise usually proves is how profoundly the message changes as it passes through the distortion of each person's inner "filter."

Environmental factors

Communication can be influenced by environmental factors that have nothing to do with the content of the message. Some of these factors are:

* the nature of the room, how warm it is, smoke, comfort of the chair, etc
* outside distractions, what is going on in the area.
* the reputation/credibility of the speaker/writer.
* the appearance, style or authority of the speaker.
* listener's education, knowledge of the topic, etc.
* the language, page layout, design of the message.

People remember:

* 10% of what they read
* 20% of what they hear
* 30% of what they see
* 40% of what they hear and see

Communication with Decision Makers

Innovation and change often depends upon persuading potential users of the benefits of an innovation. To deal persuasively with decision makers, it is necessary to know and understand their interests and opinions. The following questions are helpful in organizing technology

transfer efforts:

* Who are the key people to persuade?
* Who will make the decisions about innovation and change?
* What are these decision makers' past experiences with innovation and change?
* What are the decision makers' current attitudes toward innovation and change? Are they neutral, friendly, hostile or apathetic?
* What is the most appropriate way to approach the decision maker?
* What are the work styles of the decision makers? Are they highly formal people who want everything in writing and all appointments scheduled in advance? Or are they more flexible, responding favorably to personal telephone calls and informal meetings?

* What networks or groups is the decision maker a part of?
* What programs or services will the new innovation improve?
* What programs or services will the new innovation cause problems with?
* How will the innovation or change benefit the decision maker?

Principles of Effective Persuasion

Whether making a formal presentation at a meeting or writing a report or fact sheet, the following principles hold.

* Do not oversell or overstate your case. Make effective use of understatement.
* Outline the topic you are trying to cover into two parts. The first part should give broad background information, while the second part provides a detailed summary.
* Persuasion depends on clarity and simplicity. Avoid the use of jargon and buzz words.
* Be prepared to back up claims or facts immediately.
* Incorporate major anticipated objections into your program or presentation.
* Address all relevant aspects of a topic, especially those that may affect the functioning of an organization.
* Use graphics and audiovisuals appropriately.
* Consider ways to get meaningful input from people. Find out what they think about the innovation or change.

Selling New Ideas

Creating Isn't Selling. Often the creators of an innovation feel that convincing others of the idea's value is somehow superfluous to their activities. To them, conceiving the idea is enough. This combines with their inner conviction that their idea will "sell itself." Change agents provide a link between creators of new techniques and users.

Ideas Need Selling

Someone must recognize when an idea is good. It is important that when an idea is good it is sold to those who can act on it--those who have the power to evaluate and adopt it. Understanding users is an important activity for any change agent. People must be convinced that a particular idea or innovation has enough merit to warrant adoption.

Selling Ideas Takes Effort

Selling innovations requires preparation, initiative, patience, and resourcefulness. It may take more effort than originating the idea. In an age of technical complexity and information overload, new ideas seldom stand out. Information on new ideas must be targeted to the appropriate users and relate to their needs and motivations.

Once is Not Enough

A new idea has to be suggested many times before it will "catch on." Initial failures at promoting a new idea are to be expected, so don't get discouraged if you don't get the results you want the first time. Some ideas take years to catch on. However, first exposures are crucial to future prospects. Do it right the first time Feedback (Listening)
Getting and giving feedback is one of the most crucial parts of good communication. Like any other activity, there are specific skills that can enhance feedback. Listening is a key part of getting feedback:

Listen to the Complete Message. Be patient. This is especially important when listening to a topic that provokes strong opinions or radically different points-of-view. In these situations, it's important not to prejudge the incoming message. Learn not to get too excited about a communication until you are certain of the message.

Work at Listening Skills. Listening is hard work. Good listeners demonstrate interest and alertness. They indicate through their eye contact, posture and facial expression that the occasion and the speaker's efforts are a matter of concern to them. Most good listeners provide speakers with clear and unambiguous feedback.

Judge the Content, Not the Form of the Message. Such things as the speaker's mode of dress, quality of voice, delivery mannerisms and physical characteristics are often used as excuses for not listening. Direct your attention to the message--what is being said--and away from the distracting elements.

Weigh Emotionally Charged Language. Emotionally charged language often stands in the way of effective listening. Filter out "red flag" words (like "liberal" and "conservative," for instance) and the emotions they call up. Specific suggestions for dealing with emotionally charged words include
  • Take time to identify those words that affect you emotionally.
  • Attempt to analyze why the words affect you the way they do.
  • Work at trying to reduce the impact of these words on you.

Eliminate Distractions. Physical distractions and complications seriously impair listening. These distractions may take many forms: loud noises, stuffy rooms, overcrowded conditions, uncomfortable temperature, bad lighting, etc. Good listeners speak up if the room is too warm, too noisy, or too dark. There are also internal distractions: worries about deadlines or problems of any type may make listening difficult. If you're distracted, make an effort to clear your head. If you can't manage it, arrange to communicate at some other time.

Think Efficiently and Critically. On the average, we speak at a rate of 100 to 200 words per minute. However, we think at a much faster rate, anywhere from 400 to 600 words per minute. What do we do with this excess thinking time while listening to someone speak? One technique is to apply this spare time to analyzing what is being said. They critically review the material by asking the following kinds of questions:

* What is being said to support the speaker's point of view? (Evidence)
* What assumptions are being made by the speaker and the listener? (Assumptions)
* How does this information affect me? (Effect)
* Can this material be organized more efficiently? (Structure)
* Are there examples that would better illustrate what is being said? (Example)
* What are the main points of the message? (Summary)

Sending Messages

Selecting the Best Communication Method
In communicating with decision makers, use the most appropriate communications method. One way to do this is to ask yourself the following questions.

* What is the purpose of your message? Do you plan to tell them something new? Inform?

Do you plan to change their view? Persuade?
* What facts must be presented to achieve your desired effect?
* What action, if any, do you expect decision makers to take?
* What general ideas, opinions and conclusions must be stressed?
* Are you thoroughly familiar with all the important information on the innovation?
* What resources and constraints affect adoption of the innovation? How much time is available? How much money is available
* Which method, or combination of methods, will work most effectively for this situation? Personal contact--requires scheduling, time and interpersonal skills.

Telephone contact--requires good verbal skills and an awareness of voice tones as nonverbal communication.
Letter--requires writing skills.
e-mail?informal, needs to be short and to the point, but not get lost in clutter. May

require frequent follow-up.
News release--requires writing skills and cooperation of the media and time.

ORAL COMMUNICATION

Speaking to Communicate
Spoken communication occurs in many different settings during the course of successful innovation and change. These may be divided into three main types:

* The formal and informal networks in which peers exchange information, such as professional associations, work units, work teams, etc.
* The activities of change agents, opinion leaders, etc.
* The contacts established at team meetings, conferences, training courses, etc.

Whether to use oral communication is a decision we all make frequently in the course of a workday. The change agent must be able to identify those situations in which oral communication is the most appropriate one to use. Don Kirkpatrick suggests the -following guidelines for making such decisions.
Use Oral Communication When:

* The receiver is not particularly interested in receiving the message. Oral communication provides more opportunity for getting and keeping interest and attention.
* It is important to get feedback. It's easier to get feedback by observing facial expressions (and other nonverbal behavior) and asking questions.
* Emotions are high. Oral communication provides more opportunity for both the sender and the receiver to let off steam, cool down, and create a suitable climate for understanding.
* The receiver is too busy or preoccupied to read. Oral communication provides more opportunity to get attention.
* The sender wants to persuade or convince. Oral communication provides more flexibility, opportunity for emphasis, chance to listen, and opportunity to remove resistance and change attitudes.
* When discussion is needed. A complicated subject frequently requires discussion to be sure of understanding.
* When criticism of the receiver is involved. Oral communication provides more opportunity to accomplish this without arousing resentment. Also, oral communication is less threatening because it isn't formalized in writing.
* When the receiver prefers one-to-one contact.
Messages should be clear and accurate, and sent in a way that encourages retention, not rejection.

* Use Verbal Feedback Even If Nonverbal Is Positive And Frequent. Everyone needs reassurance that they are reading nonverbal communication correctly, whether a smile means "You're doing great," "You're doing better than most beginners," or "You'll catch on eventually."
* Focus Feedback On Behavior Rather Than On Personality. It's better to comment on specific behavior than to characterize a pattern of behavior. For example, instead of calling a colleague inefficient, specify your complaint: "You don't return phone calls; this causes problems both in and outside your office."
* Focus Feedback On Description Rather Than Judgment. Description tells what happened.

Judgment evaluates what happened. For example, in evaluating a report don't say, "This is a lousy report!!" Instead, try: "The report doesn't focus on the information that I think needs emphasis," or "This report seems to have a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes."
* Make Feedback Specific Rather Than General. If feedback is specific, the receiver knows what activity to continue or change. When feedback is general, the receiver doesn't know what to do differently. For example, in an office situation, instead of saying "These folders are not arranged correctly," it's better feedback to say, "These should be arranged chronologically instead of alphabetically."
* In Giving Feedback, Consider the Needs and Abilities of the Receiver. Give the amount of information the receiver can use and focus feedback on activities the receiver has control over. It's fruitless to criticize the level of activity, if the decision to grant the necessary monies for materials, personnel or technology is made at a different level.
* Check to See if the Receiver Heard What You Meant to Say. If the information is important enough to send, make sure the person understands it. One way of doing this is to say, "I'm wondering if I said that clearly enough. What did you understand me to say?" or "This is what I hear you saying. Is that right?"

Presentation Styles
There are different styles of making a presentation and different people will use the approach that suits them.

Good Old Boy: This is usually an experienced person who is the peer of most of the audience. Generally, there is a lot of good information but it may be poorly organized or poorly delivered.

The Entertainer: This person relies on jokes and stories to get their point across. Good visual aids could be an important feature of the presentation. Sometimes there is too much emphasis on satisfying the audience that little information is actually transferred.

The Academic: This person tends to be very precise and deliberate in presenting information. There is considerable content and it usually is well organized. Unfortunately. it can also be boring and irrelevant and not relate well to the audience.

The Reader: This person decides to read his material word for word. The material is often not especially prepared for an oral presentation and can be overly technical, boring and hard to understand. All topics are covered and what is said is precise and accurate.

The Snail: This person is nervous about the presentation and goes into a shell. Like a snail, this person also moves slowly and the presentation seems to last forever. What is best? You have to have a style you are comfortable with. Ideally, you have the rapport of the good old boy, the organization and content of the academic, the ability to get and maintain interest of the entertainer, and the precision of the reader. If you do this you will avoid the slow pace of the snail and effectively present information to your listeners. The Gadgeteer: This person uses every gimmick and technique in his or her presentation and visual aids. It can be overdone with the message getting lost among the bells and whistles.

Components of an Effective Oral Report

Introduction Capture the attention of the group right from the start.

* Give the necessary explanation of the background from which the problem derived.
* Clearly state and explain the problem.
* Clearly state your objectives.
* Indicate the method(s) used to solve the problem.
* Suggest the order in which you will provide information.

Organization

* Provide sufficient introductory information.
* Use transitions from one main part to the next and between points of the speech.
* Use summary statements and restatements.
* Make the main ideas of the report clearly distinguishable from one another.

Content

* Have adequate supporting data to substantiate what you say.
* Avoid using extraneous material.
* Present supporting data clearly--in terms of the ideas or concepts you are trying to communicate.
* Were the methods of the investigation clearly presented?
* Visual Aid Supports
* Use clear drawings, charts, diagrams or other aids to make explanations vivid and understandable.
* Make visual aids fit naturally into the presentation.
* Be completely familiar with each visual used.
* Don't clutter your report with too many visual aids.

Conclusion
Conclude your report with finality in terms of one or more of the following:

* the conclusions reached
* the problem solved
* the results obtained
* the value of such findings to the county
* recommendations offered

Question Period

* Give evidence of intelligent listening in interpreting the questions.
* Organize answers in terms of a summary statement, explanation, and supporting example.
* Show flexibility in adapting or improvising visual aids in answering questions.

Delivery

* Be natural, "communicative" in your delivery.
* Use frequent eye contact to maintain rapport with the audience.
* Vary your delivery with appropriate movements and gestures.
* Speak distinctly.
* Display confidence and authority.
* Express enthusiasm for your ideas.
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VISUAL COMMUNICATION


There's an old saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Life would indeed be difficult without paintings, photographs, diagrams, charts, drawings, and graphic symbols.

These are some of the reasons why SHOWING is such an important form of communication.

* Most people understand things better when they have seen how they work.
* Involved, complex ideas can be presented clearly and quickly using visual aids.
* People retain information longer when it is presented to them visually.
* Visuals can be used to communicate to a wide range of people with differing backgrounds.
* Visuals are useful when trying to condense information into a short time period.

Visual aids--used imaginatively and appropriately--will help your audience remember more.

Consider the following:

* People think in terms of images, not words, so visuals help them retain and recall technical information.
* Visuals attract and hold the attention of observers.
* Visuals simplify technical information.
* Visuals may be useful in presenting technical information to a nontechnical audience.

Questions to Ask about Visual Aids:

* Is my objective clear?
* What are my key points? Do they deserve the emphasis that a visual aid gives?
* What visual aid or aids have I planned to use?
* Will the visual aid clarify my spoken words? Will it support my spoken words rather than replace them?
* Is each visual aid simple, orderly and consistent? Is it free from incompatible and complicating ideas, symbols, art techniques and typefaces? Can my audience quickly and easily grasp what they see or must it be read to them? Avoid making it a reading session.
* Is it symbolic or pictorial? Which treatment is best for my subject? Which treatment is best from the standpoint of my audience?
* Is my visual direct and to the point? Is the art functional or ornate? Is it really one visual aid or several? If my subject is complex, will it be presented in easily comprehensible units? (Drop-ons or overlays) Was my artwork designed just for this presentation?
* Is my visual aid realistic? Does it give all the pertinent facts? Have the facts been distorted?
* Is my visual aid as effective as it can be made? Have I used all the available techniques to make it so?
* Did I put enough effort into the planning of the visual aid? Have I sought criticism from others?
* Will it achieve my objectives? Will my audience understand, appreciate and believe it? If my presentation calls for some action by the audience, will it stimulate them to do so willingly?
* Have I overlooked anything in the use of the visual aid? Have I tested the visual aid? Have I planned one or more rehearsals; if not, why? Will my visual aid material be visible to the entire audience?

Visual Aid Checklist

Slides
( ) Does the projector work properly? Bulb, lenses, change mechanism, fan.
( ) Does each slide present a simple, clear message?
( ) Are the slides arranged and numbered consistently and consecutively?
( ) Are the slides clean and mounted properly?
( ) Will the audience be able to see slide details in the location I plan to use?
( ) Does the slide tray have a title slide at the beginning and a blind slide at the end to avoid blinding the audience with light?

Power Point or Transparencies

( ) Is the lettering large enough to be seen by the audience?
( ) Is the projector placed so that the audience has an unobstructed view?
( ) Is the projector and slide color scheme adequate for the lighting of the room being used?
( ) Does the projected image fit the screen?
( ) Are my slides in proper order?
( ) Does each present a clear message?
( ) Is the projector compatible with the computer being used?

Video Tape

( ) Do you have the correct machine for the tape you plan to show (Beta or VHS)?
( ) Is the equipment in proper working order?
( ) Is the tape set to start at the proper place and does it "track" properly?
( ) Will the WHOLE audience be able to see the presentation?
( ) Is the sound level on the monitor(s) set at the proper level?

The Location

( ) Does the room match the size of the audience?
( ) Is the location accessible to the physically disabled?
( ) Can the lighting be controlled for showing slides and transparencies? If so, is a reading light available?
( ) Is the location equipped with a projector cart or table?
( ) Are electrical outlets conveniently located--do I need extension cords?
( ) Is the room equipped with an adequate screen?
( ) If using video equipment, can monitors be set up at appropriate locations?
( ) Does the room have a speakers table or podium?
( ) Will the location be available prior to your meeting so you can set up and test your equipment?
( ) Is the room equipped with a newsprint easel or chalkboard?
( ) Does the room have chairs and tables or desks? Can they be rearranged if needed?
( ) Is the main entrance separated from the speaker area so that late arrivals will not disrupt your presentation?

Always check out the room and equipment in advance to see that it works properly! Never assume that it will work without trying it first. As a general rule, the more complicated the technology for an oral presentation, the more likely it will fail

Checklist for Tables and Charts

( ) Be ruthless with numbers: use the fewest possible that will still convey the point of the visual. Do not exceed twenty numbers or a single slide.
( ) Combine numbers into larger sums wherever possible; eliminate any number that does not contribute significantly to your message.
( ) Consider using a chart (pie, bar, etc.) for presenting some information, especially if you want to draw comparisons between two or more items.
( ) When preparing charts use colors or patterns with a lot of contrast.
( ) Split information into two or three smaller tables rather than using one huge table.

Use no more than three or four columns per table.
( ) Have a short, yet descriptive, title that states the point of the visual. Put it at the top. Include a date at the bottom.
( ) Label columns clearly and at the top. Show the units (dollars or tons, for example).

On the left, label the statistics being compared.
( ) Avoid footnotes and symbols that may not be generally understood by your audience.
( ) Use light horizontal lines if they improve readability.
( ) Be consistent. Do not mix pounds and tons, years and months, gross and net.
( ) Avoid decimal points whenever possible. Use round numbers for tables and graphs.
( ) Highlight the most important numbers with boxes, underlining, or color.
( ) If arithmetic operations are not obvious, state them: (less), or "Less Depreciation Expense."
( ) Eliminate zeros by expressing numbers in thousands or millions, if possible.
( ) Show negative numbers in parentheses, not with minus signs.

WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

Written materials often bear the greatest burden for the communication of new ideas and procedures. Effective writing is the product of long hours of preparation, revision and organization. One book that follows its own rules is Strunk and White's Elements of Style, a short book which argues persuasively for clarity, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English. Its entire philosophy is contained in one paragraph:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reasons that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that EVERY WORD TELL.?

Clear, vigorous writing is a product of clear, vigorous thinking. Clarity is born of discipline and imagination. Kirkpatrick gives the following guidelines for using written communication:

Use Written Communication When:

* The sender wants a record for future references.
* The receiver will be referring to it later.
* The message is complex and requires study by the receiver.
* The message includes a step by step procedure.
* Oral communication is not possible because people are not in the same place at
* the same time.
* There are many receivers. Caution: the receivers must be interested in the subject and will put forth the time and effort to read and understand.
* It is cheaper. Caution: the same as above.
* A copy of the message should go to another person.
* The receiver prefers written.

Advantages of Written Materials

* Highly technical topics can be presented using words and diagrams.
* Written material provides a permanent record that can be referred to from time to time or passed on to others.
* Written material can be duplicated in large quantities or distributed on the Internet relatively inexpensively.
* It is fairly easy to distribute written material to many people, but this practice is getting increasingly expensive and its effectiveness questionable.
* Written material is preferred when it is desirable to get the same information to a group of people.
* Written records and reports are sometimes useful in legal matters.
* Written material may be useful for documenting the success or progress of some project or activity.

Disadvantages of Written Material

* People seldom take the time and effort to read technical materials.
* The preparation of written documents is time-consuming.
* Once prepared in large quantities, printed documents are difficult to change.
* Written material provides little feedback for the sender.
* Technical documents are often too long and complex for the majority of readers.
* A portion of the population may not be able to read written material.
* Too much reliance on written material as a communication method may obscure the true needs of potential users.

http://www4.uwm.edu/cuts/bench/commun.htm
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