Understanding the Communication Situation

Effective, clear communication requires that you first examine the situation. Every communication situation has five basic components.

The Communication Situation

Sender, Message, Receiver, Medium, and Context
  1. Sender: The creator of the message (speaker, writer, director, designer, marketer)
  2. Message: The subject and purpose (inform, persuade, entertain)
  3. Medium: The way the message is expressed (speech, email, ad, video, painting)
  4. Receiver: The audience of the message (listener, reader, viewer)
  5. Context: The place and time of the message (history, hurdles, opportunities)


Communication uses many media. This chapter focuses on the listener/speaker form, though later chapters will focus on written forms (reader/writer). Part 3 of this book includes other forms of communication, from videos to models to experiments to clubs. Media fall on a continuum from quick and casual to deliberate and formal.

Media Chart

Your Turn Think of one of your recent communication situations. Where would it fall on this graph?


Additional Resources