Oral communication is communication by means of the spoken word. It can take place as a face-to face meeting or over the telephone. It could be a personal and informal communication, or a formal interview, business meeting, a conference or a speech before an audience.
Advantages of Oral Communication
Oral communication is generally more preferred, as compared to written communication. Its popularity is due to its several advantages.
- It is direct and time-saving. The listener understands the words as soon as they are spoken. Oral communication is the best way to transmit messages quickly and to save time.
- It saves money. It is economical as it does not require costly equipment or stationery.
- It conveys the exact meaning of words. A great advantage of oral communication is its use of non- verbal elements like body language and paralanguage. Body language includes facial expressions and posture. Paralanguage includes features like voice volume, pitch and speed of speaking; it also includes the sounds we make while speaking, like sighing or clearing the throat. These non-verbal elements allow the speaker to express his/her meaning more accurately.
- It provides immediate feedback from the receiver. The sender gets the receiver‘s response immediately, even on the telephone. This also explains why oral communication is so effective in teaching and coaching.
- It is more persuasive in nature. Oral communication is more useful when arguments and reasons have to be given to convince someone, as in sales and marketing, or in a court of law.
- On-the-spot additions and corrections are possible. The speaker has the scope to change, improve and add to her/his message as s/he is speaking.
- Confidential messages can be communicated. When subjects of a delicate and confidential nature cannot be written, one can take recourse to oral communication.
- It is informal and friendlier. It can build friendly relations with people and develop social contacts.
Disadvantages of Oral Communication
Oral communication, however, has several drawbacks.
- It lacks legal validity. Oral messages have no legal proof.
- It lacks accountability. In oral messages, we cannot fix responsibility. The speaker can deny that he said something.
- Possibility of misunderstanding. This happens when the listener is not attentive to the message.
- Problem of retention. People do not remember oral messages for a long time. Or they may retain only a part of the message.
- Not always effective. Oral communication is not effective when the distances are great or when the message is very lengthy.
- The need for good speaking skills. Oral communication cannot be effective, if the speaker does not have the necessary skills.