Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Improving Written Content - Transmission Model of Communication

Our ability to create better web content that reaches a larger audience partly depends on a better understanding of the communication process. This post introduces the Transmission Model of Communication which contains a number of key components and shows how they interact with each other:
Link to image source

Important components of this communication model are: 
  • Noise; interference with effective transmission and reception of a message.
    • For example;
      • physical noise or external noise is the barrier caused by environmental distractions such as loud noises from construction works, weak wifi signals and distracting on-screen adverts. Obstacles that we notice through our five senses can get in the way of communication.
      • physiological noise is the barrier caused by biological influences that distract us from communicating competently such as feeling exhausted, being really hungry, or having a runny nose and a cough. When our bodies are not working properly our communication can suffer.
      • psychological noise is the barrier caused by bias and assumptions we hold such as assuming that someone is unsophisticated because of the town, county, or state they live in; or people from a foreign country are unable to communicate in our own language. Our resulting behaviours toward them may negatively impact communication.
      • semantic noise is the barrier caused by word choices and word meaning such as with the word pants. In American English pants means an outer garment covering each leg separately and usually extending from the waist to the ankle, while in British English pants means men's underpants. People understand words and phrases differently for many reasons and this hinders communication.
  • Sender; the initiator and encoder of a message
  • Receiver; the one that receives and decodes the message
  • Message; the verbal and nonverbal components conveying an idea that are sent to the receiver by the sender.
  • Encode; the sender translates their idea into a message which best represents it 
  • Decode; the receiver translates the sender's message into something the receiver understands.
  • Channel; the medium through which the message travels such as through oral communication (radio, television, phone, in person) or written communication (letters, email, text messages)
  • Feedback; the receiver's verbal and nonverbal responses to a message.
  • Context; the interrelated conditions in which the message exists or occursits environment or setting
Source of terms (adapted)

Let's consider how the components in the diagram above relate to each other in terms of creating written content for a blog. 

In writing blog posts the sender (writer) attempts to communicate their thoughts by packaging (encoding) them as a message for the receiver. The message may include both verbal (words) and non-verbal (without words) elements. In blogging terms these might appear as blocks of writing (verbal) and photographs or diagrams (non-verbal). Our choice of font, size and colours, spacing, underlining or bolding are also considered non-verbal elements of communication as they create meaning for the reader (receiver), but are not the words themselves. 

The message, or the idea we write about and post, is influenced by the context in which it is formed and sent. As the context of the message is its setting, the context may include issues such as:
  1. the relationship between the readers and the writer
  2. the intended purpose of the message 
  3. the content of previous posts 
  4. the readers' understanding of those posts 
  5. the amount of time between posts 
  6. the order in which posts are posted
When sending a written blog post, the channel is the written electronic channel where the message is delivered via the internet. Content producers need to ask themselves whether or not their content is best transmitted through a particular channel. Internet delivered channels also include video, as in vlogs, or audio as in podcasts. It's important to recognize that these channels transmit entirely different forms of message when compared to written posts. Video relies on spoken words as well as a variety of non-verbal elementswhile audio focuses on the spoken words as well as a limited range of the non-verbal elements (paralinguistic), which include pace, tone of voice, accent etc. Paralinguistic features are connected to words, but are not the actual words themselves.

Because of these differences between messages for different channels, the skills required to successfully present an idea in one form rather than another are very different. Some people are more naturally gifted writers rather than speakers, or vice versa. Some content is more effectively delivered via one channel over another. This may be influenced to some extent by the target audience (receiver) where preferences could be related to age, culture, preferred learning styles and so on. The choice of channel is often an overlooked aspect of the communication process.

In face-to-face spoken communication the sender-receiver interaction is often complex, with these two roles overlapping or switching between the people involved, and with both messages and feedback occurring at the same time. However, when sending written content via the internet there is usually a time lag between the writer posting the content (sender) and the reader (receiverreceiving it, reading it(decoding) and potentially commenting on it (giving feedback). Written comments can be either verbal (phrases and sentences) and/or non-verbal (emojis and emoticons). This slower pace means interaction is simpler with written blog content, and the sender/receiver roles more easily identified.

This post has introduced the basics of the Transmission Model of Communication. This model has helped me better understand the communication process and I hope that it benefits you too. I'll be writing more about improving written content, so drop by again soon.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Creating Content That Connects

The purpose of this post is to raise awareness of the basics of the communication process so that you have a clearer understanding of what is involved when producing and delivering web content.
Developing great content for your website, blog, or social media requires, amongst other things, a good understanding of the communication process. Even if you are an expert in your field, without well-developed communication skills your ideas may not be fully understood and appreciated. The many negative comments left at  this marketing video clip on Facebook show many readers are confused and frustrated by the content. There may be a great product to invest in but the comments suggest few are willing to pursue the opportunity.
In the posts you produce you are aiming to communicate information and ideas to your audience for a particular purpose so you need to be sure who they are and what that purpose is at the preparation stage. Consideration of audience and.purpose is an important starting point for any communication. Awareness of your target audience and your purpose in creating your web content determines the level and quantity of the content, as well as the style of language and other forms of communication you use. Your product or service knowledge helps create your content, but your awareness of your target audience and your purpose of communicating determines the how, what, where, when and why.