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Difference between oral and written communication

The difference between oral and written communication is discussed as follows:

1. Static or Dynamic Form of transfer of message. Writing is fairly static form of transfer of message whereas oral communication is a dynamic transfer of information. The written message is transferred once for all whereas in oral communication, the speaker has more ability to engage the audience psychologically.

2. Degree of Precision. The written communication is more precise as words are chosen with great deliberation and thought and the message is designed in logical sequence with sophistication and scholarship. On the other hand, oral communication is usually not precise as it is delivered spontaneously. Speeches can be precise, but that precision comes only with great preperation and compression.

3. Speed and spontaneity. The written communication lacks speed and spontaneity whereas the oral communication is speedy and spontaneous. In written communication, first message is designed after research of facts and rechecking of the material. Then it is delivered to the receiver who takes his/her own time to study. But in oral communication, the message is delivered instantaneously and that is listened by the receiver.

4. Appeal of message. The written message appeal to the reader with contemplative minds as they can read again and again the writer's mind, the meaning and sense even beyond those written words. On the other hand, oral communication appeals to the audience who wants to quickly know the message.

5. Effectiveness. The oral communication can be made effective with the use of gestures, intonation, inflection, volume, pitch, pauses, movement, appearance, etc. The speaker can easily judge the wavelength of the audience and design the message accordingly. Moreover he or she has better control over the audience and can deliver the message that appeals ineresting to them. On the other hand, such advantages of the use of non-verbal communication and control over audience is missing in written communication. As a result, the writer of the message has to think about the audience and their level of knowledge and understanding before designing the message. In oral communication, the listener has lesser chances to escape the hearing of the message whereas in written communication the reader can read quickly or escape the contents of the message. Because of these reasons, we find oral communication usually more effective.

6. Feedback and reading the audience. In oral communication, there is immediate feedback as the speaker can read the audience quickly during his or her speech. As one speaks, the audience provides its own visual signals that enable the speaker to know whether the speech is interesting and coherent or otherwise. There are always individuals in audience who scrunch up their faces when they disagree or stare outside or fall asleep if the speech is boring. These clues enable the speaker to judge the contents of the speech. In case of written communication, the feedback comes late in the form of expressed opinions, comments and views.

7. Scope of Correction. Oral communication occurs spontaneously. Consequently as a result, the spoken word can not be retracted, although one can apologize for a mistake and improvise a clarification. On the other hand, there is scope for correction of the words as the message has to read again and again before being sent.

8. Retention of Message. In oral communication, the receiver cannot retain much of the contents of the mesage. The memory has its own limitation. But in written communication, the reader can read slowly or read again. As a result, he or she can retain the message for a long time because of relatively better understanding and comprehension.

9. Group communication. In oral communication, group communication is possible as two or more persons can effectly interect with each other. On the other hand, group communication is real and virtual time is not possible in case of written communication.

10. Different suitability's. Both oral and written communication are suitable under different types of conditions and circumstances. Oral communication is more suitable in case or urgency or intimacy with the other party. On the other hand, written communication is more suitable when the message is lengthy to be understood, or when the changes of reaction are there, or when documents are required for permanent records and legal evidences.


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