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Oral communication is the process of expressing information or ideas by word of mouth. Learn more about the types and benefits of oral communication, and find out how you can improve your own oral communication abilities.

Definition and Types

Great communication skills are your ticket to success in the academic and business world. But have you ever been overcome by fear or anxiety prior to going on a job interview or speaking in front of an audience? Knowing when to choose oral communication and polishing your speaking skills can help you at every stage of your career.Oral communication is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another.

Oral communication can be either formal or informal. Examples of informal oral communication include:

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  • Face-to-face conversations
  • Telephone conversations
  • Discussions that take place at business meetings

More formal types of oral communication include:

  • Presentations at business meetings
  • Classroom lectures
  • Commencement speeches given at a graduation ceremony

With advances in technology, new forms of oral communication continue to develop. Video phones and video conferences combine audio and video so that workers in distant locations can both see and speak with each other.

Other modern forms of oral communication include podcasts (audio clips that you can access on the Internet) and Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP), which allows callers to communicate over the Internet and avoid telephone charges. Skype is an example of VoIP.


There are many situations in which it makes sense to choose oral over written communication. Oral communication is more personal and less formal than written communication. If time is limited and a business matter requires quick resolution, it may be best to have a face-to-face or telephone conversation. There is also more flexibility in oral communication; you can discuss different aspects of an issue and make decisions more quickly than you can in writing.

Oral communication can be especially effective in addressing conflicts or problems. Talking things over is often the best way to settle disagreements or misunderstandings. Finally, oral communication is a great way to promote employee morale and maintain energy and enthusiasm within a team.


Despite the many benefits of oral communication, there are times when written communication is more effective. For example, you may want to exchange important information that needs to be documented using written communication.

A lot of transactions in the business world require some type of written record, and you will find that even strong verbal skills are not a substitute for putting things in writing. Additionally, oral communication tends to be less detailed and more subject to misunderstanding than written communication. It’s best to always think carefully about which method of communication best fits your objective.

Developing Oral Communication Skills

How can you be sure to impress others with your speaking skills? Here are five tips that can help you to become a polished and professional public speaker:

  1. Be prepared.This is important for both informal discussions and formal presentations. Prepare by thinking about your goals and your target audience.
  2. Get organized. Even informal discussions in a business meeting will be more effective if you organize your thoughts ahead of time.
  3. Connect with your audience. Aim for a lively speaking style and pay attention to the non-verbal messages you send.

    Your appearance, body language and appropriate use of eye contact can make a huge difference.

  4. Use visual aids. Effective use of visual aids will help your audience to understand, remember and take action on your ideas.
  5. Practice makes perfect.

    You can reduce stage fright and polish your delivery skills by practicing before you give a presentation.

Lesson Summary

Oral Communication is the process of verbally transmitting information and ideas from one individual or group to another. Types of oral communication include formal communication, such as classroom lectures, speeches and meeting presentations; and informal communication, such as casual phone or dinner table conversations.

Oral communication can be advantageous because it is personal, direct, effective and flexible, but there are times when written communication can be more effective. An example would be when documentation of the communication is required. Being prepared, getting organized, connecting with your audience, using visual aids and practicing are just a few of the ways you can perfect your oral communication skills.

Learning Outcomes

The process of watching and reviewing this lesson might prepare you to:

  • Recite the definition of oral communication
  • List some examples of formal and informal types of oral communication
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of oral communication
  • Give tips for improving oral communication skills

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