Oral communication has been described as:

The process of people using verbal and non-verbal messages to generate meanings within and across various contexts, cultures, channels and media. It encompasses various sets of skills including the ability to speak coherently and persuasively, understanding of communication theory and processess, knowledge of verbal and non-verbal cues, audience analysis, listening skills as well as communication ethics. 

In this section, we will describe seven forms that oral communication often takes:

  1. Intrapersonal communication  

  2. Interpersonal communication  

  3. Small group communication  

  4. Public communication  

  5. Mass communication  
  6. Corporate communication  
  7. Intercultural communication  

1.3.1     Intrapersonal Communication

Intrapersonal communication is self-talk or a conversation you hold with yourself under certain circumstances – for example, when you need to make an important decision or learn something about yourself. You may wonder whether intrapersonal communication is just another way of describing the thinking process. In a way, that would be correct.

Intrapersonal communication is a form of thinking that goes on inside us which relies on language to express itself. It is similar to the Shakespearean “soliloquy” where the character in question engages in self-talk to reflect on events that have transpired (please refer to Figure 1.6). Intrapersonal communication often increases self-awareness and mindfulness, and hones critical thinking skills.  


Figure 1.6: Shakespearean soliloquy
Source: http://literaryzone.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/soliq.jpg



To know more about intrapersonal communication, click on the links below: 

  1. This website helps to define intrapersonal communication:
  1. This website is about intrapersonal communication from a musical angle:


1.3.2     Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication is communication between several people. This form of communication may range from the impersonal to the very personal. Impersonal communication is when you talk with a person you do not really care about – there is often a coldness or an indifference in your attitude when you engage in this kind of communication. 

Then, there is social communication where you engage in niceties with people you meet in a social context. The most personal type of communication occurs when you talk with people who are close to you, for example, your best friend, family members and colleagues. Such relationships are interdependent, meaning that the actions of one party very often directly affects the other party. Interpersonal communication can take place face to face as well as through electronic channels like video-conferencing, chat rooms, e-mail and Twitter. 



Click on these links for more information about interpersonal communication: 

  1. This website is about interpersonal communication:
  1. This website lists four principles of interpersonal communication:
  1. This website defines interpersonal communication, its uses and its elements:


1.3.3   Small Group Communication

Small group communication takes place in a group, usually comprising five to 10 people (please refer to Figure 1.7). This form of communication serves relationship needs (like companionship, family bonding and affection or support) as well as task-based needs, for example, deciding on disciplinary action or resolving conflict in the workplace. 

In academic institutions, students often form small groups which meet regularly for study discussions or to work collaboratively on projects. At the workplace, small groups may meet to discuss issues related to work, or for problem-solving or team-building purposes. Learning to communicate effectively in teams contributes to success and advancement in many careers. Small group communication allows you to interact with others, be it at home, in school, at the workplace or in public. You learn to exchange ideas, solve problems  and share experiences.   


Figure 1.7: Small group communication
Source: http://www.sheil.northwestern.edu/students/pix/Small%20Group%20Pic.jpg



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1.3.4     Public Communication

Public communication, also known as public speaking, involves communication between a speaker and an audience. This audience may range from just a few people to thousands or even millions of people. The aim of the speaker is usually to inform or to persuade the audience to act, buy, or think in a certain way. A teacher may address an assembly of students on codes of behaviour or school rules. A politician may make speeches on how he will be dealing with certain issues in order to win their votes. An executive may give a business presentation to get more sales. It is important to understand some of the basic principles of effective public speaking so that you are able to influence, persuade as well as entertain your audience when you communicate with them.


1.3.5     Mass Communication

Mass communication is communication that is sent out from a source to many receivers all over the world. It takes place through media like films, radio, videos and television. Modern avenues of mass communication like the Internet and blogs can be very powerful indeed as information is disseminated instantly.



Click on the link below to know more about mass communication:




1.3.6     Corporate Communication

Corporate communication is communication that takes place among members of an organisation, within that organisation. Interacting in teams, conferencing with co-workers, talking with a supervisor or manager, giving employees explanations and directions, interviewing and making presentations are some examples of corporate communication. Effective corporate communication skills enhance corporate image and impact positively on morale, commitment, and productivity in corporations.

 Is corporate communication compatible with morality and ethics? Please view the following thought-provoking video and form your own opinions on this matter: 

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Source from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwTOI5drkLo


1.3.7     Intercultural Communication

Intercultural communication is communication between people of diverse cultures and ethnicity. The world is increasingly becoming a global village and every country has people of various ethnicities. Thus, it is important to note differences in the communication practices of different cultures if intercultural harmony and understanding is to be maintained. For example, in many Asian countries, students will seldom contradict or disagree with a teacher in the classroom as this shows disrespect. In Western academic institutions, however, it is the norm for students to think for themselves and engage their teachers in debate and discussion. It is important to make efforts to recognise and respect the communication practices of people from different cultures and nationalities. 




To know more about intercultural communication, you can visit these websites: 

  1. This website about the definition of intercultural communication.
  1. This website lists the articles regarding the intercultural communication and others that relates to it.



Describe the different forms of communication below: 

  1. Intrapersonal communication

  2. Interpersonal communication

  3. Small group communication

  4. Public communication

  5. Mass communication

  6. Corporate communication

  7. Intercultural communication


  Audio 1.1: Forms of Communication

Listen carefully to each of the five conversations on the audio provided. Identify the form of communication that is taking place. Write down your answers in the space provided next to the numbered dialogue. Choose from the suggested answers below:

Please click the play button.

Dialogue 1    

Dialogue 2    

Dialogue 3    

Dialogue 4    

Dialogue 5