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Types of communication

Oral communication is the ability to explain and present your ideas in clear English,
to diverse audiences. This includes the ability to tailor your delivery to a given audience,
using appropriate styles and approaches, and an understanding of the importance of non-
verbal cues in oral communication. Oral communication requires the background skills of
presenting, audience awareness, critical listening and body language.
Written communication is the ability to write effectively in a range of contexts and
for a variety of different audiences and purposes, with a command of the English language.
This includes the ability to tailor your writing to a given audience, using appropriate styles
and approaches. It also encompasses electronic communication such as SMS, email,
discussion boards, chat rooms and instant messaging. Written communication requires
background skills such as academic writing, revision and editing, critical reading and
presentation of data.
Non-verbal communication is the ability to enhance the expression of ideas and
concepts without the use of coherent labels, through the use of body language, gestures,
facial expression and tone of voice, and also the use of pictures, icons and symbols. Non-
verbal communication requires background skills such as audience awareness, personal
presentation and body language.

Background Communication Skills
Revision and editing is:
Applying techniques to improve writing or presentation. Proofreading for spelling,
grammar and style.
Presentation skills is:
Using appropriate technologies and techniques to present information to an audience
(for example, in a tutorial, seminar, lecture or meeting).
Academic writing skills is:
Writing in order to analyse a topic closely, develop a point of view in relation to that
topic through research and thought, and persuade your reader that the point of view
you have developed is well supported by the ideas and information you present (for
example, an essay, poster, paper or thesis).
Writing a clearly structured document that presents an account of what has
happened in a practical session or as part of an experiment (for example, an
experimental report or journal).
Audience awareness is:
Understanding the needs, experience and level of understanding of an audience (for
example, the public, students, employers, stakeholders).
Displaying sensitivity to your audience in organising and presenting ideas, and
responding to feedback (for example, favouring plain language over jargon when
communicating with the general public).
Understanding the particular perspective of professionals in your field and
communicating appropriately with colleagues (for example, presenting data at a
seminar in a standard style for that field).
Critical listening/reading is:
An awareness of both the content of the message and the style and method of
communication, and an understanding of how the content and method combine to
create the meaning of the message (for example, results published in a scientific
paper may be given more credibility than results presented at a departmental
Actively listening, reading or viewing information to gain a complete and accurate
understanding of the communicated message (for example, noting the steps in a
presented argument, or extracting specific detail from an academic paper).
Personal presentation and body language is:
An understanding of and ability to use gestures, expressions and non-verbal cues to
help communicate a message (for example, using changing the tone and volume of
your voice to convey emotion and feeling, or controlling posture and nervous
gestures to present confidence).
Presentation of technical or scientific data is:
An understanding of the use of images, graphs and other methods to present data
simply and concisely (for example, using appropriate graphing techniques in a
scientific report, or well-chosen graphics to convey a concept).


Identify the communication skills that match the highlighted words in the following

Example one
Zarina is a member of the Science Society and has been designated as the society
representative at the faculty welcome for new students at the beginning of the year. She
has to meet with the faculty publicity manager to talk about what she is expected to
present, and for how long. She then has to contact the other speakers to find out
what they will be doing so that there is no overlap. Once she has planned her speech, and
written an outline on slides, she practices with friends in the lecture theatre to make
sure she has the right timing and that she knows how to use microphones and
projectors. On the day of the presentation she watches earlier speakers carefully to gauge
the interests of the audience. With this in mind she can then ad lib an introduction to
click with the students and better get across the message.

Example two
Ethan is carrying out an individual project on coastal management as part of a senior
geography unit. During the planning, field work and presentation of his findings he has to
prepare a number of different written reviews Before beginning field work he has to
read the relevant literature and make a summary of what is known and where there may
be contentious issues. He then writes a brief one page proposal of his project giving
background information, a timeline of data collection in the field, and the equipment
needed. While working in the field he has to keep careful records of all information
collected and transcribe these to a data base on a regular basis. At the end of the
project he is asked to prepare a short talk for the class on his aims and findings and
writes these as short statements on overheads. Finally he prepares a 10 page
report, to be read by a local council environment committee, on the results, and
outcomes of the research. This requires a more detailed review of related work, a
description of the methods he used, and a presentation of analysis of his results. The
discussion requires a critical review of his findings as compared to other studies,
proposals for implementation by the council, and a section describing possible
extensions to the project.

Example three
Isabella has been listed as coordinator of a tutorial discussion group reviewing
microbiology research papers. It is her job in the first week to assign readings to some
members of the tutorial group and make sure that they are prepared to present a
summary of their paper in the next tutorial. She gives a brief introduction to the topic
at the beginning of the tutorial and then introduces each speaker. At the end of the
presentation she has to oversee a general discussion among the tutorial group. She
needs to be careful that she doesnt do all the talking, allows everyone to give their
views, encourages quieter group members to participate and appreciates the overall
views of the group to present a final conclusion.