A communication channel refers to the medium used in the exchange of information among different parties. For instance, print media is used to relay information from one person to another through writing. The term ‘channels’ is used to specifically refer to the physical means like wires, mails and sound used to convey information between different parties. However, there have been recent advancements in the field of communication.
These developments have led to shifts in the communication sector. Currently, mediums of transmitting information do not necessarily have to be tangible. There are electronic media that allow people to share information without necessarily having physical contact with the conveyors of the information. For instance, using E-mails allows people to have contact with the computers but they cannot touch the actual electro-magnetic transmitter.
Types of Communication Channels
Two types of communication channels exist. These are verbal channels and non-verbal channels. Verbal channels are further grouped into written communication and oral communication. Non-verbal communication is also referred to as non-verbal ques. It mainly involves the use of body language to pass across the intended message (Simon and Alouini 1).
The essence of a communication channel is to permit the flow of information. This will enhance the feedback mechanism. Information flows in various directions and the response from each individual is important especially in the case of organizations.
How to Select an Appropriate Communication Channel
First of all, it is necessary to identify the audience being targeted to determine the correct channel of communication. The information may target a certain individual, group or organization. It is necessary to find out how these parties obtain their information which will enable one to know how effectively the communication can reach them.
For instance, you can identify the common sites they visit on the internet, social sites, and television and radio programs. The information can then be relayed through their popular media. This will enable the most of the members within the target audience to reach the communication channel and access the information they have been availed with. An appropriate communication channel is easy to use and convenient for members of the target audience to use. For instance, the administration can send E-mails to the subordinates since most of them are computer literate and tend to access the internet on many occasions.
The second step to developing an appropriate communication channel is carrying out a close analysis of the message to be sent. The elements of the information to be sent are supposed to be critically analyzed so that the channel in which it is to be sent can be chosen appropriately. For instance, an employee in a business organization will react differently to news informing him of his promotion and those informing him of the termination of his contract.
Analyzing information will enable the sender to determine an appropriate medium of relaying that particular type of information to the recipient. It is important to note that people face different circumstances in this fast-paced society and as a result, the medium through which they receive information can be of great effect (Air cargo world: A publication of Communication Channels, Inc 2). There have been incidences where people receive news about the loss of a loved one and they collapse and die on the spot because the information was relayed in the wrong manner.
Analyzing the information ensures that the sender understands the circumstances that the recipient will undergo and hence device an appropriate communication channel to relay it. For instance, some information may be confidential to the sender or the recipient. In such cases, face-to-face conversations are preferred or personal and encrypted phone calls can be used.
Thirdly, the sender needs to consider how fast feedback will be received from the recipient. Feedback centers on how fast the response will be received from the recipient. Some information may demand fast and accurate feedback which calls for channels that can transmit messages at a quick pace. In addition, feedback may imply that the sender wants to learn some vital information from the recipient without necessarily sending them a message to initiate a response. This information may be in form of seeking clarifications on what had been deliberated on at an earlier stage.
Appropriate channels of communication must ensure that feedback is received in good time (Somaraju and Trumpf 2). This will help to hasten the process of decision especially where the information is received by the management. Speed can be achieved by using channels such as telephones and telegrams.
After considering the how fast feedback should be received, selecting an appropriate communication channel should focus on the need to have a permanent record. Permanent records are required especially in cases where the communication channel is used to enter into contracts. Such records are important because they help to resolve legal issues in case any of the parties fail to fulfill their contractual obligations. The records are used as a reference to determine the parties liable to pay or receive compensation.
When selecting an appropriate communication channel, written documents such as signed contracts, formal stamped letters, reports and memos can be used to keep a permanent record. E-mails are also another way of permanent record keeping. The sender needs to proof-read the message before sending the message. This is because there are very few legal systems that can allow the plaintiff to assert that they made an error before posting the message to the recipient. To sum up, an appropriate communication channel ensures that the sender or the recipient keep a permanent record where necessary. These channels are very useful when it comes to commercial law.
The fifth factor that comes into play when selecting an appropriate communication channel is the cost incurred when using it. The cost is often placed side by side with the benefits that accrue from using that particular channel of communication (Bales, Strodtbeck, Mills and Roseborough 3). Cost is calculated in terms of money and the time spent in effectively making use of the channel. In financial terms, the cost incurred on the basis of time is called the opportunity cost. It is the cost incurred by overlooking the need to re-assign those funds to another project since it is being used for purposes of implementing the communication channel.
It is important to select a communication channel that does not make the organization or the individual to incur very high costs (Smith and Mounter 3). The media of communication should be simple, effective and affordable. The process of communication within an organization is continuous meaning that costs are incurred on a daily basis.
However, there are some occasional events in the organization that may lead to higher periodic costs. These include Annual General Meetings, employee appraisal meetings and other special meetings. Decisions may be reached using unanimous agreements reached by directors. In such a case, the channel of communication chosen to reach agreements needs to be cost-effective. For example, video conferences can be held instead of making personal phone calls to individual directors. E-mails and Fax can be used to communicate to an audience that is located in dispersed geographical locations.
Channels of communication are used for different purposes by both individuals and organizations. These parties cannot survive without using communication channels. People and organizations depend on n communication to coordinate their activities. A communication channel only works well if there is an appropriate feedback system. A good feedback system can only be realized if messages are relayed well from the sender and they reach the recipient in good time.
Communication channels are very important such that information cannot flow if there is a breakdown of the channels in communication. In order to select an appropriate communication channel, the sender of the information should ensure that they have identified the target audience and analyzed the contents of the information. In addition, the sender need to put the speed of the feedback into consideration and if it is necessary to keep permanent records of the information exchanged. Lastly, the organization or individual need to ensure that using the communication channel is cost effective. This will prevent the organization from incurring additional costs accruing to the drawbacks involved in the communication channel.
Good management and human resource management results from effective communication. Effective communication is possible only if the right communication channel is used. As a result, organizations need to come up with an appropriate communication channel by using professional help.
Air cargo world: A publication of Communication Channels, Inc. Atlanta, Ga: Communication Channels, Inc, 1983. Print.
Bales, R. F., F. L. Strodtbeck, T. M. Mills, and M. E. Roseborough. "Channels of communication in small groups." (0): Print.
Simon, M K., and M. -S. Alouini. Digital communication over fading channels. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley-Interscience, 2005. Print.
Smith, L, and P. Mounter. Effective internal communication. London: Kogan Page, 2008. Print.
Somaraju, Ram, and Jochen Trumpf. "Degrees of Freedom of a Communication Channel and Kolmogorov numbers." Computing Research Repository (2011): n. pag. Print.