The different types of communication mediums

Updated April 17, 2017

Communication can occur through countless mediums. These mediums are grouped into four basic categories, which are written, verbal, nonverbal and visual communications. While some mediums of communication, such as talking, are more obvious than others, such as body language, all mediums are important for communication between individuals.


Communication can occur through a written medium. This medium includes newspapers, magazines, brochures, letters, cards and notes. Print media is not confined to words physically printed on paper but may include e-mails, text messages and online articles. This type of communication can be used to advertise, talk to another individual or to the general public. Print mediums are considered nonverbal communications.


Verbal communication is the oldest and most studied form of communication. This form of communication includes the spoken word. Verbal communication mediums include conversations, speeches, telephone calls, commercials and movies. In order for verbal communication mediums to be effective, the person or group using verbal communication must speak the same language as the audience. Without speaking the same language, meaning is lost without being able to understand what is being said.


Nonverbal communication mediums appeal to the five senses to get a message across. Examples of nonverbal communication mediums are dance, sign language, symbolism and music without lyrics. Nonverbal communication also can be conveyed through body language, tone of voice, demeanour, actions and facial expressions. It is believed that between 65 per cent and 90 per cent of human communication is done through body language and facial expressions. The effectiveness of different types of nonverbal mediums to communicate depend on culture and circumstance as well as any verbal communication that is associated with it.


Communication can be conveyed through visual means. Mediums that classify as visual include three different types of signs. The first type of sign is an icon. Icons closely resemble the person or thing they symbolise. Examples of icons are photographs or maps in relation to a person or area of land. Another sign is known as an index, which is a sign that represents something through a causal relationship -- like smoke is to fire. The most well-known sign is known as a symbol. Symbols must be learnt because they represent something without any relationship to the item being represented. An example of this is a yellow triangle meaning yield.

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About the Author

Lindsey Fisher began writing professionally in 2010. Fisher has been published in the online magazine “Domestic Driver.” She graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and technical communications with a minor in sociology.