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Assessing your communication options
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pixel.gif (807 bytes) Dimensions of communication
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THE STRENGTHS and weaknesses of each communication method are not just a factor of the media elements they can employ, but also the broad categories that they fall into. I have identified four independent dimensions that help considerably in categorising the methods:
  • recorded v live
  • passive v interactive
  • local v remote
  • push v pull
Recorded

Recorded communication is prepared in advance of its delivery. Examples are audio tapes and CDs; videotapes; CD-ROMs; letters, memos and reports; manuals; printed materials; faxes; e-mails; intranet pages and some radio and TV broadcasts.

The advantages of recorded communication are that it delivers a consistent message each time; the message can be a considered one and the recipient can access the communication at a time that suits them.

Live

Live communication is delivered as it happens, in real-time. Examples are live radio and TV broadcasts; one-to-ones; meetings; phone calls and video conferencing calls.

The advantage of live communication is that it is immediate.

Passive

Passive communication is one-way. The receiver is not able to respond directly to the communication. Examples are audio tapes and CDs; videotapes; manuals; printed materials; faxes; radio and TV broadcasts.

The advantages of passive communication are that it requires less effort from the recipient and that, because there are no opportunities for interaction, it is quicker.

Interactive

Interactive communication is two-way. Each party in the process is able to send and receive communication. Examples are CD-ROMs (assuming they do not contain purely linear material); letters, memos and e-mails (to the extent that they are exchanged); the intranet (to the extent that interactive facilities are provided); one-to-ones; meetings; phone calls and videoconferencing calls.

The advantages of interactive communication are the opportunities it provides for feedback; the greater degree of confidence it provides that the message has been understood; the recipient can to some extent control the pace of the communication and the message can be tailored to better meet the recipient’s needs.

Local

Local communication is stand-alone and off-line. It occurs where you are, even though it might have been originated at a distance. Examples are audio tape and CDs; videotapes; CD-ROMs; letters, memos and reports; manuals; printed materials; one-to-ones and meetings. Faxes are local even though the process by which they are transmitted is not.

The advantages of local communication are that no sacrifice has to be made to quality because of bandwidth limitations and that there are fewer restrictions on where the media can be used or the communication can take place.

Remote

Remote communication is delivered at a distance. It is networked, on-line, transmitted. Examples are e-mails; the intranet; radio and TV broadcasts; phone calls and videoconferencing calls. The process by which faxes are transmitted is also remote.

The advantages of remote communication are that there is no delay in getting the message to the recipient, wherever they are and that communication can take place over large distances. An advantage of remote, recorded media, such as intranet pages, is that they can be easily updated centrally.

Push

Push communications are sent to specific recipients. Examples are letters, memos and reports; faxes and e-mails; one-to-ones; meetings; phone calls and videoconferencing calls.

The advantage of push communication is the greater certainty that it provides that a message will reach its target within an appropriate timeframe.

 

Pull

Pull communications are made available to be accessed at the recipient’s discretion. Examples are audio tapes and CDs; videotapes; CD-ROMs; manuals; printed materials; the intranet; radio and TV broadcasts.

The advantages of pull communication are that it is less stressful for the recipient and that very large quantities of information can be made available at any one time.

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1998. All rights reserved.                                 Last revised 2/11/98.