What are the advantages and disadvantages of oral communication?

Oral communication is communication by means of the spoken word. It can take place as a face-to face meeting or over the telephone. It could be a personal and informal communication, or a formal interview, business meeting, a conference or a speech before an audience.

Advantages of Oral Communication

Oral communication is generally more preferred, as compared to written communication. Its popularity is due to its several advantages.

  1. It is direct and time-saving. The listener understands the words as soon as they are spoken. Oral communication is the best way to transmit messages quickly and to save time.
  2. It saves money. It is economical as it does not require costly equipment or stationery.
  3. It conveys the exact meaning of words. A great advantage of oral communication is its use of non- verbal elements like body language and paralanguage. Body language includes facial expressions and posture. Paralanguage includes features like voice volume, pitch and speed of speaking; it also includes the sounds we make while speaking, like sighing or clearing the throat. These non-verbal elements allow the speaker to express his/her meaning more accurately.
  4. It provides immediate feedback from the receiver. The sender gets the receiver‘s response immediately, even on the telephone. This also explains why oral communication is so effective in teaching and coaching.
  5. It is more persuasive in nature. Oral communication is more useful when arguments and reasons have to be given to convince someone, as in sales and marketing, or in a court of law.
  6. On-the-spot additions and corrections are possible. The speaker has the scope to change, improve and add to her/his message as s/he is speaking.
  7. Confidential messages can be communicated. When subjects of a delicate and confidential nature cannot be written, one can take recourse to oral communication.
  8. It is informal and friendlier. It can build friendly relations with people and develop social contacts.

Disadvantages of Oral Communication

Oral communication, however, has several drawbacks.

  1. It lacks legal validity. Oral messages have no legal proof.
  2. It lacks accountability. In oral messages, we cannot fix responsibility. The speaker can deny that he said something.
  3. Possibility of misunderstanding. This happens when the listener is not attentive to the message.
  4. Problem of retention. People do not remember oral messages for a long time. Or they may retain only a part of the message.
  5. Not always effective. Oral communication is not effective when the distances are great or when the message is very lengthy.
  6. The need for good speaking skills. Oral communication cannot be effective, if the speaker does not have the necessary skills.

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