The Theory of Communication elaborated by linguist Roman Jakobson is a powerful framework allowing to address scientifically one of the most important aspects of human life. We communicate daily, and knowledge of the mechanisms which regulate this action can significantly improve the outcome of our communication in terms of expected and desired results.
All communication necessarily requires 6 elements
Which are always present: focus on each specific element is recommended according to what we are trying to accomplish with our social interaction.
- The Sender: this is the person or entity initiating the communication. Regardless of the length or the duration of a dialogue, there is always a sender for every message; typically in conversations individuals cover both the role of Sender and Receiver. It is important to note that when the Sender is a business or a brand, defining the Sender’s voice and tone is extremely important to determine the message, since it doesn’t necessarily coincide with the individual persona of the copywriters tasked with actually composing a number of messages.
- The Message: this is what the sender wants to say, and only describes the content that is sent to the Receiver.
- The Receiver: the Receiver can be an individual or an audience that is being addressed by the Message. Keeping in mind the logical figure of the Receiver is an excellent exercise for written communication, which occurs asynchronously, without the physical presence of the person or audience we are addressing. In marketing, the Receiver is the most important element of communication.
- The Code: how a Message is sent to the Receiver. All communication is actually encoded, and requires for the Receiver to be able to understand the code to receive the message. The code could be language, or the medium we are using for non-verbal communication (ie images, music, etc.).
- The Channel: where a message is sent to the Receiver. Code and Channel share a close relationship, being the Channel the medium chosen to express the message. Oral communications, radio, television or the Internet are all separate channels with extremely different codes.
- The Context: both Sender and Receiver are immersed in their context, which can be both situational and cultural. In order to establish effective communication, the mutual understanding of the context is just as important as the common ability to use a given Code. Contextual understanding is particularly important because it conveys messages that are not present in the message itself: a typical example of this is irony, where a message can mean the exact opposite based on contextual clues.
This simple framework covers all possible aspects of social interaction, including artistic expression: awareness of these 6 points is the key to efficient and professional communication, which requires from the Sender the ability to tailor the Message and choose Code and Channel according to the context shared with the Receiver.