Communicating With Today’s Tools and Today’s Knowledge

Charles Bell: Anatomy of the Brain, c. 1802

I believe, in this world of rapidly changing technology and increasing knowledge of how our brains ‘work’, that students of communication need to know more. (For the record, I believe it’s a human need to constantly learn more about how to communicate, but for the sake of argument, let’s limit this to senior post-secondary students of communication.)

For sure students who want to go into any field that includes communication need to know how to read and write ‘correctly’ and powerfully.  (True since the spread of the printing press and literacy.) They also need to know how to speak with rhetorical power. (True since before the advent of writing.) Now they need to know how to record themselves aurally and visually, and how to use sound and images to shape their messages. The tools for communication have both increased and been democratized. The web has opened up the world of communication possibilities.

The skillful writer now shapes the presentation of her or his text. At the simplest: What font? What type size? What headings? What length of paragraphs? Bullets? Paper type? Now there are multiple decisions to be made – by acceptance of what’s already there or by conscious choice. And each of these choices will affect how the readers will grasp the intended message.

When a person approaches creating a piece of communication now, the choices have multiplied: text (paper or digital), speech (live or recorded), image (still or moving), or some combination of these. Where and how to place or deliver these messages is now a moving and evolving target, (and not my focus here).

Now, what the student of communication needs to learn is how these choices will impact on their audience. They need to have the traditional information about their intended audience but I maintain they need to know more now. They need to know what part of the brain will be responding to their communication choices. Do they want the information to be recognized? Dealt with strategically? Or felt?

Now teachers of communication skills need to know something about, and teach about, where (and thus how) the audience’s brains will take in the message. I suggest reading, watching and listening to “How New Technologies are Changing our View of What Listening is” – 

Joan Vinall-Cox, PhD –
JNthWEB Consulting –
Social Media & Learning

Leave a Reply