Communication 101

Types Of Communication: The 5 Major Styles

March 14, 2022
10 Min Read

Communication is a vital part of being human. It’s how we send and receive messages or ideas, and it occurs in five major styles.

These different types of communication styles include:

  1. Verbal
  2. Written 
  3. Visual 
  4. Nonverbal 
  5. Listening 

Communication is something that you should never stop improving. Not only is it essential to communicate effectively if you want healthy relationships, but it will also do wonders for your career.

And sometimes, going back to the basics is the best way to fine-tune your skills. Below, Poised discusses the primary communication styles and provides practical advice for improving. 

Verbal Communication    

Any communication that occurs orally can be considered verbal communication. The ultimate objective of any oral communication is to ensure people receive the message you wish to convey. Naturally, communicating verbally is faster and more precise than written communication. (Although it comes in pretty handy when ordering at a restaurant too.)

Today, verbal communication is considered an essential strength of professionals and anyone else who hopes to achieve goals. If you want to be an effective executive, manager, or employee, you must be able to say what you need to clearly, effectively, and politely.

Managers often deal with an array of individuals and must convince their teams to act in ways that benefit the company. On the other hand, executives and employees interact with groups of people from varying backgrounds and experiences; therefore, you must understand and verbally communicate with people with different talking and comprehension skills.

The higher you climb the corporate ladder, the more refined your verbal skills and business communication prowess should be. For example, business executives must convey their messages precisely without leaving any room for misunderstanding. A CEO might give an interview that millions of people view, including hundreds of company stakeholders. 

Improving your verbal skills can help you move higher up in your organization (or the corporate world in general).

Written Communication    

You can use written communications in many different ways today. Thanks to the Internet, smartphones and other technologies, the written form of communication is changing rapidly. Email is still one of the most common forms of written communication, but online messaging apps and even text messages are becoming more popular for business and personal uses.

Written words generally fall into one of two categories: formal or informal communication. You may speak informally with friends and family members. Still, you should always take a formal approach when communicating with other professionals and team members, particularly when you are on the clock.

This will minimize the risk of someone misquoting your words. As any Shakespeare fan knows,  miscommunication can be, at best, mildly disruptive and, at worst, potentially offensive or damaging.

Written communication serves as the final word after making decisions. This applies whether you are a business owner who quotes a price to their client, when you receive a job promotion, or when your team has devised a strategy via video chat.

And since we live in the digital age, every message could live on in perpetuity. Therefore, focus on writing well-constructed sentences with minimal errors, and make sure that the content of every message you send is something you want to promote for many years to come.

Visual Communication   

Visual communication is one of the most potent forms of conveying a message and evoking emotions. Our society is highly visual, with TVs running 24/7 and memes, images, and videos popping up everywhere.

One of the most popular social media platforms, Instagram, is solely based on photographs, and consumers and businesses alike interact through imagery and visual aids to share ideas and products.

Even when you post something on social media from your personal account, you are trying to convey meaning. That is, you are essentially communicating a message. Maybe you are sharing about a goal you just achieved or a challenge you are currently facing. Whatever the case, visual communication can get the message across uniquely.

Using Visuals To Enhance Your Communication  

When using visual communication in the workplace, it should be informative and appealing. 

Here are some of the most common types of workplace visual communications:

  • Charts and graphs
  • Infographics
  • Presentations
  • Process diagrams
  • Flowcharts
  • Photographs

Whether you are trying to create impactful visuals for your next virtual meeting or develop a promotional graphic for your brand, several strategies are worth trying. 

For example, you could use icons and symbols to make your information more memorable and tell stories through visuals and data. You could optimize color to draw more attention to specific aspects of your message. Data visualization is also helpful because it can help you demonstrate the impact of your work.

Is a Picture Really Worth a Thousand Words?  

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Maybe not, but they are still a huge asset. While written content has its place, a picture can take people to different places. Images can convince viewers of your intended message while also helping them remember it for longer. Images can also clarify ideas. 

One example is how furniture assembly images simplify learning how to put together a piece of furniture compared to reading pages of instructions. And ultimately, pictures allow our brains to function and create meaning faster, even when combined with words.

Nonverbal Communication   

One of the most underrated forms of communication is non-verbal communication, also referred to as "interpersonal communication.” This is one of the most critical “soft skills'' that can make or break effective communication.

Let's talk about a couple of nonverbal cues to be aware of as a professional:

Body Language  

Your posture and positioning tell others a lot. You can convey many meetings by sitting, standing, or moving your hands, arms, and feet. There are plenty of other subtle movements that send messages as well. Additionally, hand gestures, also called gesticulation, are key in your potential communication process.

For example, you might demonstrate your self-confidence and emotions by having an upright, rigid, or bearing body stance. Maybe you are leaning back comfortably in your chair, sitting stiffly on the edge of your seat, or twiddling your thumbs with your legs crossed.

Facial Expressions  

No one needs to tell you how expressive human faces can be. In most cases, your happiness, relaxation, confusion, hurt, boredom, or anger will show through facial movements in your mouth, eyes, eyebrows, and more.

Even a lack of expression or eye contact with others can suggest disinterest or annoyance. Be mindful of what you are telling others through your face! Sometimes, it's what you're not saying — whether you are meeting in a physical or virtual space. Face-to-face communication is more than just spoken words.


Too many people leave listening out of the conversation regarding communication styles. However, active listening may be one of the most critical types of communication. Think about it: you cannot effectively engage with another person if you are not listening to them.

Consider negotiating with a client or brainstorming strategies with your coworkers. You must understand what each individual wants and needs if you are going to come to an agreement. And the only way to do that is to listen. Then, you can assess the goals of each party and make decisions for a win/win outcome.

Communicating Without Any Actual Words  

When you demonstrate to others that you are actively listening to them, it paints a picture of how important the meeting is, encouraging the speaker and inspiring other participants to engage. With each virtual or in-person meeting, commit to engaging from the beginning to the end. 

Show interest in the content each speaker is communicating, take notes, and find Windows to add brief thoughts of your own. One strategy to consider is leaving your camera on and virtual meetings to hold yourself accountable for paying attention.

Communicating Effectively in the Pandemic Age  

Communicating during a global pandemic is quite different than in times past. Keep these few tips in mind as you hone in on your communication skills:

Learn To Communicate in Virtual Meetings    

No matter what industry you work in, chances are you will need to conduct or attend virtual meetings, even if only occasionally. 

For example, take stock of the mental distractions you experience often, and be intentional about minimizing them before each meeting. Also, learn basic virtual etiquette, such as when to meet your audio or video feed. And make sure you establish an engaging virtual environment. You should have a professional background, the proper lighting, and any high-quality equipment necessary.

Using a tool like Poised is one of the best ways to take your skills to the next level. AI like Poised can help you keep track of your contributions to the conversation. This can help you lead when it’s needed and listen when it’s called for.

Take Advantage of All of the Communication Styles   

Each communication style has its benefits and drawbacks, and each works best in specific situations. Ideally, you will learn how to use all of them effectively. Doing so will make you a versatile communicator who can adapt to any circumstance and environment.

Build Your Confidence as a Communicator    

Finally, you must communicate with confidence. You will naturally become more confident as you hone your communication skills. But if you want to appear confident during your next virtual meeting, practice beforehand in front of your camera. Research the necessary content and come fully prepared for the meeting.

Lastly, become familiar with any communication software you will be using, and be mindful of your physical appearance.

The Personal Communication Coach

Few things are more important for a professional than your ability to communicate effectively. Focus on improving your verbal, written, visual, and nonverbal communication skills, and become an active listener in all of your meetings and other work situations. If you need to identify areas that need improvement, turn to tools like Poised. Your performance will quickly get to the next level!


Verbal Communication Skills List and Examples | The Balance 

15 Expert-Recommended Ways to Improve Your Written Communication | Thrive Global

What Is Nonverbal Communication? | ThoughtCo. 

As It Turns Out, a Picture Is Not Worth a Thousand Words | WIRED

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