Oral Communication: Meaning, Advantages, Limitations

oral communication

Oral communication is the most widely used communication method throughout the world. In organizations, too, the managers extensively use oral communication. Mintzberg (1973) found that most managers spend 50-90% of their time talking to people.

What is Oral Communication?

Oral communication is verbal communication that communicates with the utterance of words or with spoken words. Oral communication involves face-to-face conversation, group discussions, telephone calls, and other situations in which the sender uses spoken words to communicate.

15 Advantages of Oral Communication

The popularity of oral communication results from its various benefits to the users. These merits are discussed below:


Oral communication is very fast in transmitting messages between senders and receivers. It helps managers expedite work by promptly delivering instructions to the working people. Oral communication today takes virtually no time due to effective mechanical devices.

Thus, oral communication is unparalleled to all other methods of communication.


Therefore, oral communication is direct communication and carries a personal touch of emotion and relationship. It helps develop cordial human relations with the other party in the communication. It also facilitates effective management of the organization.

Immediate Feedback

Oral communication makes immediate feedback possible. The sender can receive on-the-spot responses from the receiver about the favorable or unfavorable message. The sender can immediately rectify any misunderstanding by answering questions and explaining the message to the receiver.


Oral communication can easily be corrected and changed without any delay. It is direct verbal communication, so all types of mistakes and versions can be corrected and restated directly with the receiver.

The communicator can also change the message by observing the reaction or facial expressions of the audience, making the subject more attractive and motivating. This makes oral communication the most flexible method.

Effective for Illiterates

Oral communication is the only communication method for illiterate people, as they only understand oral messages.

In a country like India, oral communication has no alternative for contacting this section of people. Business organizations largely use oral communication for promotional marketing in countries with illiterate populations.


Oral communication helps keep messages containing information, events, or ideas secret, as there are no standing documents in written form.

Here, only the involved parties are the sender and receiver, and it is they who can keep the communication secret. The non-involvement of other parties in the process of communication makes it possible.

Least Misunderstanding

Oral communication has the least possibility of misunderstanding messages because every query is explained in detail during the course of communication directly with the receiver. So, there is nothing left ambiguous or confusing in oral communication.

Reduced Red Tape

Oral communication causes no delay in delivering messages to the receiver. Moreover, there is no formality to observe in the case of oral communication. This reduces unnecessary delays, i.e., red tape, in the flow of communication.

Informal Presentation

Oral communication does not generally require any formal chain of communication to follow. This frees the sender free from extra tension and attention in preparing and sending messages. This informality makes oral communication prompt, immediate, and effective.

Reduced Possibility for Distortion

Oral communication reduces the possibility of distorting any part of the content of the communication, as it is immediately objected to and corrected by the sender during the process of communication.

Personal Relations

Oral communication is direct and helps establish personal relations with the receiver, which is essential for businesspeople. Personal relations simplify many things and contribute to oral communication’s popularity.

Group Communication

Oral communication is the only method that can address a group of people at a time, such as at assemblies or meetings. A large gathering of people can be effectively communicated with through oral communication.

Less Costly

Oral communication is a less costly method of communication than written communication. It does not require the processing cost of written communication, assuming other cost items remain the same.


Oral communication can be adjusted to the mood of the receiver and influenced by the sender’s vital characteristics and vocal faculty. Therefore, oral communication is more effective than any other form of communication in obtaining the required response from the receiver.


Oral communication helps motivate employees or people more effectively than other methods of communication. It can use personal, emotional, linguistic, and vocal forces to positively influence the behavior of the receiver(s) toward mutual goals.

11 Limitations of Oral Communication

Oral communication has some obvious limitations, which business people do not prefer in many situations. These limitations or disadvantages are discussed below:

No Record

Oral communication lacks a record unless it is preserved on tape. Therefore, it cannot be used as a reference or presented anywhere as a supporting document for any event or case.

Businesses require records or documents to make decisions or support future actions. Oral communication does not provide any supporting documentation due to its lack of record.

High Distortion Possibility

Oral communication has a high possibility of distorting facts, information, or explanations provided in such communication. Either party in the communication system can introduce this distortion due to memory lapses.

It can also occur due to the defensive mentality of the parties involved, which may omit unfavorable facts from the message or include favorable ones to create a favorable environment for themselves.

Not Suitable for Lengthy Messages

Oral communication is not suitable for lengthy messages, as there is a high likelihood of missing something of vital importance. Listeners may lose the thread of continuity due to a lack of attention to the speaker and the subject matter.


Oral communication cannot be retained for a long time in human memory. It can be recorded on tape, but even that becomes unclear over time. Therefore, it cannot be used as a future reference.

Oral communication is not accepted as evidence in a court of law for any dispute, as it lacks legal validity. It can only be considered evidence if it is recorded on tape and becomes part of a permanent record.

Higher Chance of Misunderstanding

Oral communication is vulnerable to gross misunderstanding due to various interruptions. It is often presented without proper organization, making it possible for the sender to fail to clarify the message to the receiver.

The receiver may also miss the message due to inattention, leading to a higher likelihood of misunderstanding.

Presentation Problem

Oral communication is affected by the voice, tone, style of speech, physical appearance, dress, and movements of the communicator, including facial expressions and gestures.

These elements significantly influence the audience and can distract from the message, making presentation problems a critical deterrent to effective oral communication.

Limited Use

Oral communication has very limited use in organizational management because it lacks documentation. Documentation of business communication is a necessary requirement for managerial decision-making, which is not possible with oral communication alone.


Oral communication often includes irrelevant issues in the message due to a lack of planning, carelessness, and inattention on the communicator’s part regarding the message’s content. This problem is common in oral communication.

Lack of Secrecy

Oral communication spreads quickly because people do not feel as responsible for oral messages. This hampers the necessity of maintaining secrecy in oral communication.


Oral communication is subject to higher inaccuracy in information, articulation, improper choice of words, and sentence structure due to general inattention and carelessness. People often do not take the time for thoughtful and considered presentation and response in oral communication.

13 Causes of Failure of Oral Communication

13 Causes of Failure of Oral Communication

Oral communication often results in maximum misunderstanding, confusion, distortion of facts and can lead to communication breakdown.

Research has shown that business executives are particularly poor at communication (Lasiker and Pettit, 2002:5). This inefficiency in communication is more prevalent in oral communication than in written communication. The question is why.

In simpler terms, oral communication means “communication by word of mouth”. Oral communication has numerous advantages.

However, in some cases, this method of communication cannot attain the desired advantages due to some causes or reasons. It is the most natural skill of communication that man develops.

However, there are 13 Causes of Failure of Oral Communication.

  1. The absence of planning,
  2. Overconfidence,
  3. Over busyness,
  4. Quick transmission,
  5. Poor and defective presentation,
  6. Inattention,
  7. Presence of emotion,
  8. Status difference,
  9. Lack of evaluation,
  10. Linguistic barrier,
  11. Disregard to the receiver,
  12. The difference in personality,
  13. Receiver’s interpretation.

Absence of planning

If the message of oral communication is not properly planned, it cannot draw the attention of the audience. Therefore, before delivering the oral message, the speaker should prepare a necessary plan.


In the case of oral communication, the communicator should have self-confidence. Though self-confidence is essential in oral communication, overconfidence may collapse communication.

Over busyness

In most cases, oral communication occurs in a busy situation.

This may cause distortion of the message. As a result, communication becomes ineffective.

Quick transmission

When the communicator transmits a message or information very quickly, the audience may not understand a part or whole of it.

In such a case, if the message is not repeated, communication will fail.

Poor and defective presentation

The presentation is an important prerequisite of oral communication. Sometimes, communication becomes ineffective due to the poor and defective presentation of the speaker.


Inattention is greatly responsible for the failure of oral communication.

Both parties must pay due attention to the communication message. If either of the parties is inattentive, communication between them becomes ineffective.

Presence of emotion

Emotions of both parties may influence the effectiveness of communication. Sometimes in oral communication, parties may not control their emotions.

Their emotional behavior may lead to communication in vain.

Status difference

The status difference between the speaker and listener greatly affects the success of oral communication. If either of the parties boasts of his position and ignores the other party, then communication between them will be blocked.

Lack of evaluation

In oral communication, there is little opportunity for both speaker and listener to evaluate the message. This also causes failure in oral communication.

Linguistic barrier

Improper language is another cause of failure in oral communication.

Linguistic barrier arises from using unknown words, technical words, jargon, accent difference, etc.

Disregard to receiver

When superiors communicate orally with subordinates, sometimes they may show disrespect to the subordinates.

Due to such disrespect, subordinates may show less interest in the message.

Difference in personality

In the case of oral communication, the listener pays attention to the personality of the speaker. If the speaker holds less personality, the listener will not pay attention to the speaker’s message.

Receiver’s interpretation

The receiver’s interpretation of the message severely affects the effectiveness of oral communication. Generally, listeners try to understand the speech of the speaker from their own emotional behavior.

In such a situation, listeners may interpret the message wrongly.

13 Essentials of Effective Oral Communication

Successful and effective oral communication requires certain conditions to be present in order to overcome defects and eliminate reasons for communication failure.

Francis J. Bergin has highlighted seven C’s that an oral communicator should keep in mind: candid, clear, complete, concise, concrete, correct, and courteous. These characteristics are also essential for all types of communication.

To make oral communication effective, the following guidelines or principles should be followed:


Oral communication should be well-prepared in terms of content, sequence, information, and presentation. This systematic preparation ensures that the message is delivered comprehensively without missing important points.

Clear Pronunciation

Correct and clear pronunciation of words is essential to prevent misunderstandings. Speaking distinctly and avoiding fast or unclear speech is crucial to prevent confusion and misunderstanding.


Precision enhances the effectiveness of oral communication. Instead of saying, “Come to the office early tomorrow,” it’s better to say, “Come to the office by 8 o’clock.” Precision ensures a crystal-clear message.


Oral communication often becomes lengthy due to excessive talking. It’s important to keep it as concise as possible to avoid verbosity and distraction.


Oral communication should be free, open, honest, and sincere. Deceptive or false statements can immediately affect the audience’s perception and distract from the message’s effectiveness.

Appropriate Words

Effective oral communication uses words that are familiar to the audience. Making assumptions about the audience’s understanding of certain words can lead to misunderstandings, so choosing words carefully is essential.


Maintaining strict neutrality in oral communication ensures that there are no negative reactions among the audience. Biased statements can lead to disruptions in communication.

Natural Voice

Natural and unaffected speech is the most effective. Avoiding unusual accents and affected speech patterns helps make oral communication more effective.

Avoid Hackneyed Phrases and Clichés

Frequent use of overused phrases like “I see,” “Do you follow,” or “What I mean” can interrupt the flow of speech and hinder quick comprehension of the message. Speakers should consciously exclude these phrases.

Right Register

Adapting vocabulary, grammar, and tone to the social, educational, and professional context of the audience makes oral communication more successful.


Oral communication should be made attractive through tone of voice, interesting facts, stylish presentation, catchy words, and appealing language to engage the listeners.


Patience is a virtue in successful oral communication. Remaining patient with the audience, addressing comments or remarks carefully, and responding logically contribute to success.


Courtesy plays a significant role in effective communication. It involves polite behavior, good manners, and being considerate of others’ perspectives and feelings. Courtesy stems from a sincere “you-attitude” and contributes to a positive and favorable communication environment.

Courtesy is not merely the mechanical expression of “please” and “thank you,” but it reflects genuine respect and concern for others. It aims to put the listener in a favorable frame of mind and goes beyond mere politeness.

8 Situations When is Oral Communication More Effective?

8 Situations When is Oral Communication More Effective?

Oral communication is more effective when communication needs a human touch, establishing a direct relationship, maintaining secrets, reaching mutual understanding, and avoiding complexities with oral consent.

Managers usually prefer oral communication to written communication.

Although oral communication suffers from some drawbacks, this method of communication is more effective than written communication in the following 8 situations:

Instant Communication

Oral communication is more effective when it is needed to communicate with someone instantly.

Detailed Explanation of Policies

If any direction of managers and policy or procedure of the company requires explanation, oral communication is the best way to communicate.

Developing Direct Relationship

If it is important to establish a direct relationship between sender and receiver or between workers and management, they should communicate orally.

Maintaining Secrecy

Oral communication is best suited when information is to be kept secret. Written communication leaks secrecy as the message passes from hand to hand.

Instant Response

Where an instant reply from the receiver is required, oral communication is the best suited.

Reaching To Mutual Understanding

Sometimes, open discussion is needed to reach a consensus. Such discussion is possible only through oral communication.

Illiterate Receivers

When the receivers are illiterate, written communication is meaningless to them. Therefore, oral communication is the only way to communicate with them.

Avoiding Bureaucratic Complexities

Bureaucratic complexity delays communication. To avoid any delay caused by bureaucracy or red-tapism, oral communication should be used instead of written communication.

8 Ways To Make Oral Communication More Courteous

The following guidelines will make communication courteous :

Be sincerely tactful.

Avoid being abrupt or blunt, which means speaking very little and often being rude or appearing rude. This can result from a mistaken idea of conciseness, negative personal attitudes, or not understanding the culture of a country or community.

To be courteous, steer clear of discourteous expressions and present your message tactfully.

Single out your reader.

Courteous treatment involves addressing your listener individually for a specific situation. This is known as customizing communication, and you can do this by referring to the listener by name.

Refrain from preaching.

A preaching tone can come across as offensive. People value their independence and don’t like to be bossed around. They prefer to be treated as equals. Avoiding a preachy or sermon-like tone enhances courtesy. Elementary, flat, and obvious statements often sound preachy.

Avoid anger.

Anger can destroy goodwill and is rarely justified. The effects of anger are clear: it can make the listener angry and jeopardize business relationships.

Be thoughtful and appreciative.

Cordial and courteous messages of deserved congratulations and appreciation help build goodwill. In Asian cultures, a softer, more polite approach in oral and written communication is appreciated.

Use expressions that show respect.

No reader wants to receive messages that are offensive. Therefore, follow the guidelines below:

  • Omit irritating expressions.
  • Avoid questionable humor.
  • Remember that what may be funny to one person can be offensive to another; humor varies among individuals.
  • Choose nondiscriminatory expressions.
  • Use language that reflects equal treatment of people regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, or physical features to maintain courtesy.
  • Avoid sexist language, such as “man” words.
  • Avoid masculine pronouns and use the plural form instead.
  • Refrain from using words that demean women’s status.
  • Use names in a parallel form for both men and women.


Business communication must be complete in every sense. A business message is complete when it contains all the necessary facts the listener needs to take the desired action. It’s considered complete when the receiver doesn’t have any questions about the content of the message in order to act accordingly. To achieve message completeness, follow these guidelines:

  • Provide all necessary information, answer all questions asked, and offer additional details when appropriate. Address these factors from the listener’s perspective and provide facts accordingly.
  • Ensure that you’ve provided all the information necessary for thorough, accurate understanding. To complete the message in terms of information, answer the five Ws (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) and one H (How).
  • Try to answer both stated and implied questions to avoid leaving gaps in the message. Incomplete messages can lead to negative reactions from the listener.
  • Customers may perceive incomplete messages as careless or as an attempt to conceal weaknesses. In general, “Omissions cast suspicions.” Therefore, answer all questions, whether favorable or unfavorable, tactfully and honestly.
  • Use your judgment in providing additional materials if the sender’s message is incomplete. Extra information can enhance the organization’s image and foster confidence, potentially leading to increased future business and strong, congenial relationships.


Communication must be correct in terms of proper grammar, punctuation, and pronunciation. This principle also emphasizes using the appropriate level of language and ensuring accuracy in figures, facts, and words.

Language can be categorized into three levels: formal, informal, and substandard. Oral communication should employ informal language—short, well-known, and conversational—while avoiding substandard language.

7 Situations Where Oral Communication Is Effective

Oral communication is effective under certain circumstances, as outlined below:

Direct Relations

Oral communication is the most effective method for establishing a direct relationship with other individuals. Face-to-face or direct conversations between parties involved in oral communication foster cordiality and closeness.

Lack of Time

When there is insufficient time to compose a written message, oral communication becomes the primary means of quickly conveying information to the recipient, ensuring timely completion of tasks.

Need for Immediate Response

Oral communication enables prompt responses because it eliminates barriers between the parties involved. Therefore, when an immediate response is required, oral communication is the most suitable method.

Illiterate Audience

Oral communication is the sole method of communication for illiterate audiences. Illiterate individuals may struggle to read written messages, but they can readily comprehend oral communication.

Need for Explanation

Oral communication is particularly advantageous when a message requires further clarification. Senders may need to explain the message to enhance understanding, while recipients may require immediate clarification before taking any action.

Need for Secrecy

When parties wish to maintain the confidentiality of a message, oral communication is the most effective method. Since there is no written record of oral communication, the risk of message leakage to third parties is minimal.

Need for Avoiding Sluggishness

Oral communication involves direct engagement and message exchange without barriers or delays. Therefore, it is the most effective method to prevent sluggishness in communication when immediate interaction is essential.

14 Differences Between Oral and Written Communication

Field of DifferenceOral CommunicationWritten communication
1) DefinitionalOral communication is verbal communication that communicates with the utterance of words or with spoken words.Written communication is the message that is encoded and transmitted in written form.
2) RecordOral communication generally does not have any permanent record.Written communication always has permanent record.
3) CostOral communication is prompt and free from all types of sluggishness.Written communication is costly.
4) FeedbackOral communication gives immediate feedback.Written communication takes time to give feedback.
5) FlexibilityOral communication is highly flexible.Written communication is inflexible.
6) Time takenWritten communication is legally tenable as court accepts it as legal evidence.Written communication takes time to prepare and transmit a message.
7) ReliabilityOral communication takes the least time to prepare a message and transmit it.Written communication is the most reliable communication, as people trust it.
8) LegalityOral communication is not reliable, as people do not take it confidently.Written communication is legally tenable as the court accepts it as legal evidence.
9) DistortionOral communication is highly prone to distortion.Written communication is not prone to distortion.
10) SluggishnessOral communication is not legally tenable, as the court does not accept it as legal evidence.Written communication is sluggish.
11) EffectivenessOral communication is the most effective communication especially for illiterate audience.Written communication is not as effective as oral communication.
12) SignificanceOral communication is less significant in the organizational context.Written communication is the most significant communication in alt types of organization.
13) RelationshipOral communication establishes a direct relationship between parties.Written communication establishes indirect relationship between parties.
14) FormalityOral communication is generally form informal communication.Written communication forms formal communication.

FAQs About Oral Communication

What is oral communication, and in what forms does it occur?

Oral communication implies communication through the mouth, including individuals conversing with each other, be it direct or telephonic. It encompasses speeches, presentations, and discussions.

Why is oral communication recommended, and in what scenarios is it most effective?

Oral communication is recommended when the communication matter is of a temporary kind or where a direct interaction is required. It is most effective in building rapport and trust through face-to-face communication such as meetings, lectures, conferences, and interviews.

What are the advantages of using oral communication?

Oral communication offers a high level of understanding and transparency, flexibility for allowing changes in decisions, spontaneous feedback, time-saving, and is effective for problem resolution and transferring private and confidential information.

How does oral communication impact teamwork and organizational employees?

Oral communication is essential for teamwork and group energy, promoting a receptive and encouraging morale among organizational employees, and resolving conflicts, disputes, and differences through discussion.

How does oral communication contribute to building rapport and trust within an organization?

Oral communication, especially face-to-face interactions like meetings and conferences, helps in building rapport and trust by allowing direct interaction, immediate feedback, and fostering a sense of understanding and transparency among participants.

Why is oral communication considered less authentic than written communication?

Oral communication is considered less authentic because it is informal, not as organized as written communication, and lacks a physical record, making it challenging to use as evidence or reference in the future.

In what ways does oral communication save time and effort in an organizational setting?

Oral communication is immediate, allows for spontaneous feedback, and facilitates quick decision-making, thereby saving time and effort compared to written communication, which may involve drafting, reviewing, and distributing documents.

How can the limitations of oral communication, such as misunderstandings and lack of legal record, be mitigated?

The limitations can be mitigated by combining oral communication with written forms for record-keeping, ensuring clarity and completeness of information shared, and encouraging active listening and feedback to avoid misunderstandings.

Is oral communication effective for resolving organizational conflicts and disputes? If so, how?

Yes, oral communication is effective for resolving conflicts and disputes as it allows for direct interaction, expression of emotions, immediate clarification of doubts, and negotiation, leading to mutual understanding and resolution.

How does non-verbal communication complement oral communication?

Non-verbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, complements oral communication by adding emphasis, conveying emotions, and providing context, which enhances the overall effectiveness and understanding of the message.

Can technology enhance the effectiveness of oral communication? How?

Yes, technology like video conferencing and voice messaging can enhance oral communication by overcoming geographical barriers, ensuring clarity through audio-visual means, and allowing real-time interaction and feedback.

Is oral communication essential for leadership within an organization?

Absolutely, oral communication is vital for leadership as it enables leaders to convey vision, give direction, build relationships, motivate employees, and address concerns effectively.

How does oral communication influence customer relationships and service?

Oral communication significantly influences customer relationships and service by allowing immediate response, personalization, empathy expression, and instant resolution of queries, which enhances customer satisfaction and trust.

Can oral communication skills be improved? What strategies can be employed?

Yes, oral communication skills can be improved through regular practice, active listening, clear articulation, effective use of body language, and seeking feedback for continuous improvement.

How does the cultural background of communicators affect oral communication?

Cultural background can affect oral communication by influencing language proficiency, communication style, non-verbal cues interpretation, and politeness norms, which may lead to misunderstandings if not considered.

What role does active listening play in effective oral communication?

Active listening is crucial for effective oral communication as it ensures understanding, fosters respect and trust, facilitates accurate response, and helps in identifying and resolving any issues or misunderstandings.


Oral communication is essential for building rapport, trust, and fostering understanding in organizational settings. It allows for quick decision-making and is complemented by non-verbal cues.

Technology enhances oral communication and is crucial in leadership and customer relationships. Improvement in oral communication skills is achievable through regular practice, clear articulation, effective use of body language, and seeking continuous feedback.

However, cultural background influences communication and active listening is fundamental to effective oral communication. Balancing oral communication with other forms and employing strategies for improvement can enhance its overall effectiveness.