How to Master 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)

How to Master 4 Types of Communication (With Examples)
JobStreet content teamupdated on 28 July, 2023

Communication is essential to success in both career and relationships. It’s also vital to a productive workplace. Recognized as a soft skill, communication is the act of exchanging ideas and information. It connects people and binds organisations into a cohesive whole.

We use communication to impart what we feel, what we know, and what we wish to happen. It's the very foundation of civilisation itself.

In this article, you’ll know more about the importance of communication. You’ll also learn the 4 types of communication and how best to develop them.

Importance of communication

Man and woman in the office conversing, effective communication

We communicate every single day, in different scenarios and environments. We convey messages, whether at home or in the workplace. Whether it's verbal or visual, communication is key to successful relationships and businesses.

  • Communication skills are essential in all jobs in sales, marketing, and customer service. They're also critical in leadership and managerial positions. Effective communication skills help you: Establish good rapport with others.
  • Manage your team or organisation.
  • Attain healthy relationships.
  • Foster teamwork, leading to improved workflow and successful projects.
  • Strengthen an organisation's core, leading to business success.
  • Reach and even exceed your targets.

There are many communication styles or types that you can use. It depends on the reason, situation, and people involved. Here, you will learn about visual, written, verbal, and non-verbal communication. Each has its own advantages andpurpose.Understanding these is the first crucial step in developing good communication skills.

The 4 different types of communication :

  1. Verbal communication
  2. Nonverbal communication
  3. Visual communication
  4. Written communication

Verbal communication

Colleagues discussing, office conversation, effective verbal communication

When you convey your message through language, including sign language, you perform verbal communication. This type of communication is used during conversations, meetings, conferences, phone calls, and other online or face-to-face interactions.

Types of verbal communication

1. Interpersonal communication

A one-on-one conversation that happens between two individuals.

2. Intrapersonal communication

A silent conversation with ourselves or an internal dialogue that takes place inside our brain.

3. Small group communication

A discussion or interaction with more than two people involved.

4. Public communication

Takes place when someone speaks to a large audience or crowd.

5. Mass communication

The imparting of information with a large audience, using a channel or medium of communication like TV.

Advantages and disadvantages of verbal communication

Using words to communicate is often the most direct way to convey your intended message to another person. Words have assigned meanings, which leaves little room for misinterpretation, especially when they are used properly. They also allow you to express something clearly, whether spoken or written.

However, some pieces of information cannot be completely captured by words. These are often things or events that involve complex feelings. For instance, saying a football game was exciting or simply narrating the events. It's not enough to capture the actual emotions felt during the viewing of the recorded video or live event.

Examples of effective verbal communication

  • Sharing input with your boss or colleagues
  • Providing constructive criticism
  • Asking for feedback
  • Asking for assistance
  • Expressing or explaining a problem to someone to find a solution
  • Asking open-ended questions to encourage a healthy discourse
  • Using facts and evidence to strengthen your argument or pitch
  • Telling stories to grab the listener's attention and to illustrate your point better

How to improve verbal communication

1. Practise active listening

To be a good communicator, you must learn to listen well. “Effective communication is about two things, imparting your message in a way that gets you what you want and listening in a way that you truly ‘hear' what the other person is saying,” says executive coach Shane Warren, who offers expert tips for being an effective communicator.

2. Speak in an assertive and clear manner

Your number one goal as a communicator is to be understood. So, you need to speak in a clear voice without being too loud. If you speak too strongly or too loudly, you may come off differently to some people. Worse, this can turn some audiences off. The key is to be balanced – mixing clarity and assertiveness with calmness, making sure you lower your volume when speaking about delicate or intimate matters, and speaking up when the occasion calls for it.

3. Speak in an appropriate tone

Your tone, or the way you speak, can often be as important as your message. Speaking in a lively and energetic tone can help you be persuasive, especially when making presentations or pitching ideas. When dealing with a difficult situation, it may be more advisable to speak in a hushed or sombre tone so you can sound empathetic to the listener.

Nonverbal communication

Sometimes, our body language can speak louder than our words. Nonverbal communication is one of the most compelling forms of communication. It is the way we move, act, and look at people that signals a message not expressed through words.

Nonverbal communication is one of the most important social skills, according to ASEAN Tourism Master YS Chan. “Hence, the importance of communicating face-to-face on important matters as it is difficult to cover up visual clues all the time,” he says. “Those who have mastered the art of reading body language would know that everyone is communicating, often unknowingly, even when not speaking.”

Types of nonverbal communication

1. Body language

Examples are gesturing with your hands; arms crossed across the chest; tilting your head to one side; crossing your legs; standing up right; looking at the floor; placing your hand on your mouth or cheek; standing with your hands on your hips.

2. Facial expressions

Dr. Paul Ekman's research tells us that the 7 universal facial expressions we use, regardless of country or culture, are anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise.

3. Eye contact

Researchers say that eye contact could be the most significant form of nonverbal communication. Eye contact can reveal a range of emotions. It can signal many attention, interest, hostility, affection, or attraction.

4. Touch

any form of physical contact that signals an emotion, such as a high-five, fist bump, tap on the shoulder, or a handshake.

Advantages and disadvantages of nonverbal communication

Expressing yourself through movements can sometimes have a more profound effect than words. A smile, for example, can express kindness or pleasure more strongly than merely saying, “I'm glad.” A tap on the shoulder is also a more powerful way of expressing your approval.

Of course, nonverbal communication can only be done in person. While most of it can be done through video calls in some cases, it is still more effectively done in a face-to-face setting. Another disadvantage here is the fact that nonverbal communication is a less concrete and less formal way of interacting, which could raise concerns depending on the context.

Examples of effective nonverbal communication

  • Smiling to make the other person feel welcome and relaxed
  • Angling your body to the other person in an open, relaxed posture
  • Maintaining eye contact while speaking to express honesty, conviction, and attention
  • Introducing yourself with a firm handshake to signal confidence and enthusiasm
  • Sitting with a good posture, with shoulder upright, to express alertness and confidence
  • Smooth, deliberate body movements, especially when making a presentation, to evoke calmness and self-assuredness
  • Giving an encouraging touch on the arm or tap on the back to signal approval

How to improve nonverbal communication

1. Be relaxed

Nonverbal communication is often the most telling or revealing. Words can lie, but our bodies cannot. So, if you're approaching someone in a relaxed frame of mind, it will easily show. You'll appear welcoming and confident, which will only help you get your message across more effectively.

2. Be mindful of your body language

Effective nonverbal communication takes practise and a lot of correction. You should be able to unlearn mannerisms that may give off a negative vibe, especially to people who you have just met. Leaning back with your arms folded can be a sign of arrogance to some. Resting your head on your hand may be viewed as a sign of boredom.

Bad body language can easily be corrected just by being more self-aware while talking to someone. Practise how to be more relaxed in your overall posture to give off a more welcoming and positive vibe.

3. Make sure you are comfortable

Your actions and facial expressions will appear more natural when you're in a comfortable state. In a meeting or interview, sit in a comfortable chair so you can feel more relaxed. If you are giving a presentation standing up, make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes, so that you can maintain your energy throughout

Visual communication

graphic designer in her office

Images are a powerful way to communicate ideas. Visual communication makes use of imagery to deliver a message. Like nonverbal communication, it also relies on the sense of sight but is not limited to body movements, and instead has a wider canvas of expression.

Types of visual communication

1. Graphic design

Creative images that are composed digitally, from logos, to illustrations, to web design, and animation.

2.  Photography

Still images captured by a camera, whether analogue or digital.

3. Video

Moving images either shot via camera or rendered via animation; i.e. video posts, vlogs, TV programs, films, or documentaries.

4. Infographics

Graphic art that effectively illustrates pieces of information, mostly statistics that are presented visually.

Advantages and disadvantages of visual communication

While visual communication may not be as personal or intimate as verbal or nonverbal communication, it is often more sophisticated and can be more impactful when done effectively.

Images are powerful communication tools, especially when used on people who primarily think visually. They stimulate the imagination, which enhances your message and makes it more potent in people's minds.

Examples of effective visual communication

  • Instructional videos; i.e., orientation videos for new employees, and corporate or sales videos meant for clients.
  • TikTok videos use music and humorous or entertaining content to make your message stick.
  • Digital illustrations, especially ones that perfectly capture a feeling or a brand.
  • Proof of concept photos, especially if your products or services are visual; i.e. interior design, real estate, fashion, cosmetics, etc.
  • Charts and graphs that flesh out statistics and their significance.

How to improve visual communication

1. Use clean, singular images

When it comes to images, oftentimes, less is more. A single image is more powerful than several objects crammed in a single frame. The former optimises an audience's focus, while the latter could only distract one image from another, resulting in a diluted overall effect. Make sure you present images cleanly as well so that there are little to no distractions to your main image.

2. Grab the audience's attention

Attention is becoming an increasingly limited resource these days, especially in the realm of social media. This is why your images should pop out of the screen.Composeartwork, pictures, or videos that can make someone stop scrolling. Use shocking images (without being offensive), outrageous, funny, and relatable to people.

3. Make the most out of the latest technology

It is now easier than ever to use visuals in communication. Explore the many tools you can use to present images to people – laptops, LED TVs, tablets, animation apps, photo editing apps, and other new hardware or software that can help you create compelling images. You can also take a short course in editing, digital art, or content creation to further improve on your visual communication skills.

Written communication

A woman writing in her notebook in the office

Written communication refers to writing, typing, and printing messages and information. They can include letters, numbers, and symbols. Written materials can be in the form of letters, memos, email, text messages, chats, books, newspapers, and magazines.

Types of written communication

1. Business writing

Writing is done in a transactional or industrial capacity, which is formal; examples are memos, business proposals, and procedures.

2. Creative writing

Any form of inventive writing that expresses an emotion or idea, whether reflecting an individual or a brand; examples are blogs, articles, poetry, slogans, taglines, poetry, fiction.

3. Academic writing

Writing done for research, which is formal; examples are thesis, research papers, critical essays.

Advantages and disadvantages of written communication

Written communication has the unique advantage of being simultaneously clear, comprehensive, and carefully crafted. Unlike verbal communication, it can be composed and edited before being delivered. This can help avoid or minimise mistakes.

Of course, the trade-off is that it lacks the intimacy and directness of verbal communication, as well as the emotional impact of visual and nonverbal communication.

How to improve written communication

1. Be concise

Make sure to express your thoughts as briefly as possible. Only mention the necessary information and avoid adding redundant statements. Unnecessary details can only make your message longer than it's supposed to be. This can risk losing your reader's interest.

2. Use simple words

Take it easy on the thesaurus, my friend! Using simple, easy-to-understand words is usually enough. Trying to impress other people with your deep vocabulary can be counterproductive, as it can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

3. Focus on your content

Impress your reader with the content of your message. Focus on the meat and essence of what you're trying to say. Think of the most compelling part of your main message or idea. Then make sure to emphasise that. Use examples if you must, to enhance your message.


Different situations, people, and teams call for different types of communication when working together toward a common goal. Understanding the differences between these forms of communication is important in knowing which is most effective for your cause.

Verbal communication is best when you want to convey a message in the most direct way. Nonverbal communication, on the other hand, teaches you how to read exchanges without speaking.

While visual communication may not be as intimate as other types, it can be more impactful if done effectively. Meanwhile, written communication can be advantageous if you need your message to be simultaneously clear, comprehensive, and carefully crafted.

Of course, you need to consider several factors about your audience: distance or proximity, educational background, age, size, and other demographic information. Use the most appropriate mode of communication for your particular situation and your message will get its desired result.

Whether it's verbal, non-verbal, visual, or written communication, each is instrumental for the success of the workplace. These do not only help with your targets but allow for a more efficient and productive work environment.


  1. What is the most effective type of communication?
    Functionally, verbal communication is the most effective type because it is direct and immediate. Since it is done face-to-face, the reaction you get is also instant, resulting in a dialogue. Verbal communication is two-way because it leads to conversation, so you can resolve issues faster. This makes verbal communication one of the most important communication types in the workplace.
  2. How can I improve my communication skills?
    The foundation of good communication, regardless of your chosen mode, is openness, both within yourself and to other voices. You must always be willing to share your thoughts and also welcome the input of others respectfully.
  3. What are some common barriers to effective communication?
    “We all have different personalities, different communication and working styles and not everyone is going to gel,” says career coach Leah Lambert in talking to your boss. ‘If we don't recognise or discuss these differences, they can have a huge impact on employees and managers, both personally and professionally.”
  4. How can technology affect communication?
    Technology increases our communication reach as well as our capacity to enhance our modes of communication. Most recently, artificial intelligence is helping us create realistic digital images and make writing more efficient. Embracing technology can greatly enhance our communication skills.
  5. What is the role of nonverbal communication in communication?
    It is meant to aid verbal communication by adding meaning through gestures and physical contact. It adds more substance between your lines and reinforces what you are saying by adding a smile to your greeting or a tap on the arm to your ‘thank you,' for instance.

Want more tips and expert advice? Go to JobStreet's Career Advice page and discover all the insights you need. #SEEKBetter jobs by downloading the JobStreet app from the App Store or Google Play so you can get instant access to the latest job opportunities from the top companies in Malaysia.

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