The communication cycle is a linear model of communication. Through schematic representation, the communication cycle details the relationship between sender, message, medium, and recipient.
|Concept Overview||The Communication Cycle is a theoretical framework that illustrates the process of communication between a sender and a receiver. It breaks down communication into stages to understand how messages are encoded, transmitted, received, and decoded.|
|Stages of Communication||The Communication Cycle typically consists of several stages: sender, encoding, message, channel, receiver, decoding, feedback, and noise. These stages represent the key elements and processes involved in communication.|
|Sender||The sender is the individual or entity initiating the communication process. They have a message or information to convey to the receiver.|
|Encoding||Encoding is the process of translating the sender’s thoughts, ideas, or information into a message that can be transmitted through a chosen communication channel. It involves selecting words, symbols, or visuals to convey the intended meaning.|
|Message||The message is the actual content or information being communicated. It can take various forms, such as spoken words, written text, images, videos, or gestures, depending on the chosen communication medium.|
|Channel||The channel refers to the means or medium through which the message is transmitted from the sender to the receiver. Channels can include face-to-face conversation, written letters, emails, phone calls, and digital platforms.|
|Receiver||The receiver is the individual or entity intended to receive and interpret the message. They play a crucial role in the communication process by receiving, perceiving, and decoding the message.|
|Decoding||Decoding is the process by which the receiver interprets and makes sense of the message. It involves understanding the language, symbols, and context used by the sender to convey the intended meaning.|
|Feedback||Feedback is the response or reaction provided by the receiver to the sender’s message. It serves as a critical component of effective communication, allowing the sender to gauge the message’s clarity and impact.|
|Noise||Noise refers to any interference or disruptions that can hinder effective communication. It can be external (e.g., loud environment) or internal (e.g., distractions) and may affect the clarity and accuracy of the message.|
|Implications of the Communication Cycle||– Clarity: Understanding the stages of communication helps improve message clarity and reduces misunderstandings. – Problem Solving: Identifying communication breakdowns assists in addressing issues within organizations or relationships. – Media Literacy: It promotes media literacy by encouraging individuals to analyze communication processes in various media forms.|
|Benefits of Understanding the Cycle||– Effective Communication: Knowledge of the Communication Cycle enables individuals and organizations to communicate more clearly and persuasively. – Conflict Resolution: It aids in resolving conflicts by identifying breakdowns in communication and addressing them. – Relationship Building: Effective communication fosters positive relationships and collaboration.|
|Drawbacks and Limitations||– Simplification: The Communication Cycle simplifies a complex process and may not account for all variables in real-world communication. – Cultural Differences: The model may not fully address the impact of cultural variations on communication. – Contextual Factors: The effectiveness of communication can be influenced by contextual factors that are not explicitly addressed.|
|Applications of the Cycle||– Business Communication: Organizations use the Communication Cycle to enhance internal and external communication. – Education: It is employed in educational settings to improve teacher-student and student-student interactions. – Interpersonal Relationships: Individuals apply the model to improve communication with family, friends, and partners. – Media Analysis: Media professionals use the framework to analyze and critique communication in news and entertainment media.|
|Examples of the Cycle in Action||– A manager encoding a project brief and transmitting it via email to team members. – A teacher delivering a lecture to students and receiving questions and comments in response. – A journalist conducting an interview, reporting the findings, and receiving audience feedback. – A couple using the Communication Cycle to address a misunderstanding and improve their relationship.|
Understanding the communication cycle
The communication cycle was developed by mathematicians Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver.
In any context, effective communication is the conveying and receiving of messages between individuals in a manner that is easily understood.
The process of communication starts when a sender transmits a message to a receiver through a specific medium.
Upon receiving the message, the receiver responds in an appropriate time frame – otherwise known as feedback.
This simple back and forth example where the sender and receiver reciprocate roles represents the communication cycle.
The cycle can be used when messages are transmitted through writing or non-verbal (body language) means in a variety of different contexts.
Components of the communication cycle
In Shannon and Weaver’s interpretation, there are seven components to the cyclical process of communication.
The sender – otherwise known as the source – starts the cycle by deciding they have information they want to share.
Before sending a message, the sender must ensure that it reaches the receiver in a way that the receiver understands. In other words, what is the purpose of the message? How should the receiver ideally react after receiving the message?
Encoding involves the sender deciding on how to best convey their message.
Appropriate words, gestures, tones, and sounds are important and should be based on knowledge of the receiver.
For example, authors who write children’s books usually communicate in short, sharp sentences with simple, child-friendly words.
During the encoding process, it’s critical to clarify various aspects such as:
- What language are you going to use?
- What communication medium?
- What’s the appropriate form and format of communication?
This helps making the communication cycle way more effective down the road.
The message is simply the piece of information a sender communicates. Messages are based on the information chosen and how the information is conveyed so that the receiver understands it.
The medium describes the means of communication. It may be a newspaper, computer screen, television, or radio. Each medium will be suited to a particular form of communication and subsequent audience.
The receiver is an important part of the communication cycle, for without someone to receive a message there can be no sender.
The receiver gathers sent information and then attempts to understand it. If successful, the receiver becomes the sender, and the cycle repeats.
This is also known as feedback because the receiver responds to a message by broadcasting their views.
To ensure that the process runs effectively, messages must easily be decoded. For example, a video featuring Stephen Hawking communicating the wonders of astrophysics would be lost on most children.
A travel article espousing the nuanced beauty of a particular destination may be unable to be communicated to readers who have never visited.
Indeed, successful receiver decoding is often reliant upon individual thoughts, memories, and perspectives.
In the decoding process, you want to consider all the main aspects that can affect it.
- Communication channel proficiency: are sender and receiver aligned in terms of understanding and ability to use the same communication channel?
- Shared mental models: do encoder and decoder share a similar way of deciphering the real world? So they can better understand each other? Cultural alignment might help with that.
- Noise: What noise affects that channel, and can it be reduced?
Invariably, there will be interferences in the communication cycle. This is called noise, which disrupts harmonious communication in several ways.
Noise can occur when the sender uses technical jargon in their messages that the receiver cannot understand. Those who speak with heavy accents may also experience problems with communication.
The receiver can also contribute to noise. Distractions are common in this instance, perhaps the result of being ill or entering a communication with preconceived notions or judgments.
Lastly, noise can also be literal. Loud concerts are notorious for contributing to poor communication, as are slow internet connection speeds.
In general, there are a few kinds of noises that we want to take into account which might affect the communication cycle:
- Physical noise
- Semantic noise
- Physiological noise
- Psychological noise
- Cultural noise
- Technical noise
How to use The Communication cycle diagram
A communication cycle diagram is any that illustrates the transmission of information between two or more entities. Communication cycle diagrams are used to describe how information is transmitted during communication.
These diagrams are used to depict communication models that are:
Or models that define communication as an interactive process between the sender, receiver, and feedback.
More dynamic models that consider senders and receivers to be communicators.
In essence, transactional models view communication as a cooperative process where both entities contribute to the outcome and effectiveness of the interaction.
Here, the communication process is one-way and not cyclical.
Other models of this type comprise the Schramm model.
Or the Berlo’s model.
Other communication models look at closed loops.
A hybrid to that is the transactional model of communication, which leverages context to have a much deeper understanding of the communication process.
Components of a communication cycle diagram
The individual or entity wishing to transmit a message.
Effective transmission relies on crafting a message the receiver will understand and take the desired action on.
In some models, this process is known as encoding.
Or the information the sender wishes the audience to receive and then understand.
The message may be written, oral, or non-verbal in nature.
How is the message transmitted? It could be via email, television, text, letter, telephone, or face-to-face.
This is any factor that can impede or interfere with message transmission.
Noise can be literal, which is often experienced with a poor television or phone signal.
But it can also take the form of non-literal sources such as the accent of the speaker or their culture, level of understanding, or emotions.
Language barriers are also a prime source of noise in the communication cycle.
The receiver is the individual or entity that receives the message and seeks to understand its purpose or intention.
In some models, this process is known as decoding.
When the receiver transmits a message back to the sender based on their original message, this is known as feedback.
This is an important part of the communication cycle because feedback tells the sender their message was understood in the way they intended.
However, in some cases, the receiver may ask for clarification if the message was impeded by noise. Feedback may be verbal or non-verbal.
Breaking down the communication cycle diagram
- A communication cycle diagram is any that illustrates the transmission of information between two or more entities.
- Communication cycle diagrams are used to depict interactional and transactional communication models. By their very nature, these diagrams are not used to represent linear communication models such as the Shannon-Weaver model.
- Communication cycle diagrams tend to have the following components: sender, message, transmission, noise, receiver, and feedback. The precise components, and indeed their definitions, will vary from one communication model to the next.
Communication cycle example in business
In this example, consider a business meeting where the executive team is assembled to review important KPIs.
The sender is the host, speaker, or facilitator of the meeting. This individual initiates a conversation, encodes the message in the appropriate channel, and is responsible for establishing the intent of the meeting itself.
The intent, in this case, is to review employee performance management KPIs.
The message of the meeting can be thought of as the aim of conducting it in the first place. In other words, the executives are assembled to ensure employee performance KPIs:
- Match the objectives of the business.
- Measure areas that will impact business success, and
- Provide clarity on areas that need to be addressed.
KPI reviews are notorious for endless discussions about numbers with no real consensus on a way forward. To ensure the meeting focuses on the actions required to improve outcomes, the facilitator sticks to 10 or 12 KPIs that cover the four key areas of employees, customers, revenue, and processes.
The medium is verbal, face-to-face discussion, but there is also an element of non-verbal body language as each attendee assesses the temperature of the room, so to speak, when discussing how to improve each KPI.
The facilitator also uses KPI dashboards to stimulate productive discussion. In this example, the executives prefer to have the data presented as charts and graphs in PowerPoint with different status colors that highlight trends.
There are many potential sources of noise in a meeting scenario. These include:
- Acoustic – external noise (construction, aircraft), technical noise (fans, projectors), and building noise (the HVAC system).
- Illumination – too much light in the conference room may render the PowerPoint slides unreadable. Too little light may make it hard for the attendees to see others or pick up on their verbal or non-verbal cues.
- Comfort level – is there enough space in the conference room for each occupant? Is the furniture comfortable and in working order? Is the room at an optimal temperature?
- Visual – is the project working properly? Does every attendee have a clear line of sight to the screen, to each other, and the meeting facilitator?
- Cultural or knowledge – are the attendees of a similar culture, background, age, or experience level? Are there terms they may misunderstand or misinterpret?
Collectively, the receiver is the group of meeting attendees who must decode the message sent by the facilitator and maintain the communication process.
Each of the above sources of noise will determine whether they can properly decode the contents of the presentation.
Once the senior executives have decoded the message, they must confirm or validate effective listening by responding in turn.
On the micro level, one attendee may nod and smile at the speaker or a colleague to confirm understanding or agreement.
On a broader level, feedback means each attendee will be able to analyze the KPIs and work with others to formulate corrective strategies.
Coca-Cola Communication cycle case study
In this real-world example of the communication cycle at work, let’s take a look at The Coca-Cola Company’s “Share a Coke” campaign.
The sender of the information associated with the campaign is The Coca-Cola Company. To be more specific, the campaign was devised by Coca-Cola South Pacific and the marketing agency Ogilvy to strengthen the Coke brand with Australian young adults.
The company replaced its logo on one side of a Coke bottle with the catchphrase “Share a Coke with” and then selected the 150 most popular first names in Australia.
For example, “Share a coke with Sam” or “Share a Coke with Chris”.
Also printed on the label was the hashtag #ShareaCoke to appeal to millennial consumers and encourage them to share their experiences on social media.
Coca-Cola encoded the message by selecting the most popular first names by region.
In other words, the names it used for the Australian campaign were not the same as those used later in the United States or indeed the 80 other markets where the campaign was launched.
The company even developed a custom font that was easier to read than the traditional Spencerian cursive script it uses for “Coca-Cola”. As the campaign spread around the world, labels also reflected the local culture and interests of the target audience.
In Australia, for example, the labels incorporated regional slang and colloquialisms. Conversely, in the UK, labels featured popular British landmarks.
The following channels were used to promote the campaign:
- Point-of-sale (POS) displays – personalized POS displays were featured in retail stores with the most popular first names.
- Social media – as noted, the company created the #ShareaCoke hashtag to encourage consumers to share photos on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Mobile – Coca-Cola also sent text messages to users with a link to a personalized virtual Coke bottle which they could also share on social media. Later, users could ask Alexa for a personalized bottle which was later posted to them with the name of their choice.
- Television – numerous TV ads have been developed since the campaigns were first launched in 2011.
- Outdoor/offline – ads were also shown outdoors on electric and non-electric billboards, murals, and in bus shelters. Consumers were also invited to share a Coke in cinemas and as part of experiential displays.
Consumers decode the message when they recognize their name on a bottle of Coke and see the hashtag #ShareaCoke. The message is also decoded when a consumer can recognize a local landmark or slang word.
Potential sources of noise in the campaign include:
- Competition – other marketing campaigns running at the same time could have distracted consumers from Coke’s message.
- Cultural or language differences – while Coca-Cola accounted for cultural nuances in different areas, it nonetheless employed a broad personalization strategy that did not cater to some groups. In Saudi Arabia, it used very few middle-eastern names because of the company’s English-language bias. This served as a source of noise because it hindered Coca-Cola’s ability to reach a broader swathe of the population.
The intended receiver in this communication cycle were millennial consumers. The company had identified that cola consumption among this cohort was on a slow and steady decline and, in any case, consumers were not engaged with its brand.
Feedback primarily occurred on social media where users were encouraged to share photos of themselves enjoying a Coke beverage with the relevant hashtag. In the campaign’s first year, over 500,000 images were shared on Facebook alone.
The company became one of the first to incorporate feedback from user-generated content in a marketing campaign. More importantly, it responded to comments, answered questions, and made itself more accessible to millennial consumers.
Coca-Cola also monitored feedback from sales data, customer service channels, and in-person interaction from experiential displays. It then used this feedback to adjust production, distribution, and marketing strategies to start the cycle once more.
- The communication cycle describes the cyclical relationship in communication between a receiver and sender.
- In Shannon and Weaver’s interpretation, the communication cycle is based on seven core components.
- The communication cycle argues that effective communication relies on clear and accurate messaging easily interpreted and understood by each party. In any case, noise can contribute to ineffective communication through distortions in encoding and decoding among other things.
- Definition: The communication cycle is a linear model that illustrates the process of conveying and receiving messages between individuals, involving sender, message, medium, and recipient.
- Development: Developed by mathematicians Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver, the cycle aims to achieve effective communication in a clear and understandable manner.
- Sender: Initiates communication, decides on information to share, and its purpose.
- Encoding: Selects the best way to convey the message using appropriate words, tones, gestures, etc.
- Message: The content or information the sender wishes to communicate.
- Medium (Channel): The means of communication used, like email, television, etc.
- Receiver: Gathers sent information, attempts to understand it, and provides feedback.
- Decoding: Ensures the message is easily decoded and understood by the receiver.
- Feedback: The receiver responds to the message, confirming understanding or seeking clarification.
- Noise and Interference: Noise refers to any factor that disrupts or hinders effective communication. It can be physical, semantic, physiological, psychological, cultural, or technical in nature.
- Use of Communication Cycle Diagrams:
- Communication cycle diagrams depict transmission between entities.
- Suitable for interactional and transactional models, emphasizing interaction and feedback.
- Not appropriate for linear models like the Shannon-Weaver model.
- Real-World Examples:
- Business Meeting: Executives review KPIs in a meeting, where sender, message, medium, noise, receiver, and feedback play crucial roles.
- Coca-Cola “Share a Coke” Campaign: Coca-Cola personalizes bottles with popular names, encodes messages based on cultural context, uses various media channels, and gathers feedback from consumers.
- Key Takeaways:
- Communication cycle involves sender, message, encoding, medium, receiver, decoding, and feedback.
- Noise can disrupt effective communication and takes various forms.
- Communication cycle diagrams are used to illustrate transmission in interactive and transactional models.
- Linear models like Shannon-Weaver are not suitable for communication cycle diagrams.
Communication Cycle Strategies
|Employee Email Communication||Sender: Employee, Message: Work Update, Channel: Email, Receiver: Colleague, Feedback: Confirmation||An employee sends an email message with a work update to a colleague, who acknowledges receipt with a confirmation email, completing the communication cycle.||Clarity in work communication and collaboration.||Effective task coordination and reduced misunderstandings.|
|Marketing Campaign Launch||Sender: Marketing Team, Message: Campaign Content, Channel: Social Media, Receiver: Target Audience, Feedback: Likes, Comments||The marketing team launches a campaign on social media, and the target audience provides feedback in the form of likes, comments, and shares, indicating engagement.||Campaign effectiveness assessment and adjustment.||Increased brand visibility and potential leads.|
|Customer Service Phone Interaction||Sender: Customer, Message: Service Inquiry, Channel: Phone Call, Receiver: Customer Service Agent, Feedback: Solution Provided||A customer calls a customer service hotline with a service inquiry, and the customer service agent provides a solution, closing the communication cycle with resolution.||Customer issue resolution and satisfaction.||Positive customer service experience and loyalty.|
|Team Meeting and Decision-Making||Sender: Team Leader, Message: Meeting Agenda, Channel: In-Person Meeting, Receiver: Team Members, Feedback: Discussion and Agreement||A team leader sends a meeting agenda, team members discuss the agenda in an in-person meeting, and the meeting concludes with decisions made and feedback received.||Effective team collaboration and decision-making.||Clear action plans and successful project outcomes.|
|Annual Performance Review||Sender: Supervisor, Message: Performance Feedback, Channel: Face-to-Face Meeting, Receiver: Employee, Feedback: Employee Response||A supervisor conducts an annual performance review with an employee, providing feedback and discussing performance. The employee responds, completing the cycle.||Employee development and goal setting.||Improved job performance and career growth.|
|Supplier Ordering and Confirmation||Sender: Company, Message: Order Request, Channel: Email, Receiver: Supplier, Feedback: Order Confirmation||The company sends an order request to a supplier via email. The supplier acknowledges receipt with an order confirmation, ensuring clear communication.||Supply chain efficiency and reliability.||Timely deliveries and inventory management.|
|Investor Relations Presentation||Sender: Company, Message: Financial Results, Channel: Investor Presentation, Receiver: Investors, Feedback: Investor Questions||A company presents financial results to investors. Investors ask questions during the presentation, and the company responds, closing the feedback loop.||Investor trust and confidence in disclosures.||Informed investment decisions and potential stock value increase.|
|Product Launch and Customer Feedback||Sender: Company, Message: Product Announcement, Channel: Online Store, Receiver: Customers, Feedback: Product Reviews||A company launches a new product on its online store, and customers provide feedback through product reviews, contributing to continuous improvement.||Customer feedback collection and analysis.||Enhanced product enhancements and customer satisfaction.|
|Sales Presentation and Customer Inquiries||Sender: Sales Representative, Message: Product Features, Channel: In-Person Meeting, Receiver: Potential Clients, Feedback: Questions||A sales representative presents a product’s features to potential clients in an in-person meeting. Clients ask questions, and the representative responds to clarify details.||Client engagement and informed decision-making.||Increased sales and client conversions.|
|Employee Newsletter and Employee Comments||Sender: HR Department, Message: Company Updates, Channel: Internal Newsletter, Receiver: Employees, Feedback: Comments and Suggestions||The HR department sends an internal newsletter with company updates to employees. Employees provide feedback and suggestions by commenting on the newsletter.||Employee engagement and feedback collection.||Improved employee morale and organizational communication.|
|Cross-Functional Project Communication||Sender: Project Manager, Message: Project Status, Channel: Team Meeting, Receiver: Cross-Functional Team Members, Feedback: Action Items||A project manager shares the project status with a cross-functional team during a meeting. Team members discuss and agree on action items, completing the communication cycle.||Project coordination and progress tracking.||Successful project completion and stakeholder satisfaction.|
|Complaint Resolution in Retail||Sender: Customer with a Complaint, Message: Complaint Details, Channel: In-Person Conversation, Receiver: Store Manager, Feedback: Solution and Resolution||A customer with a complaint discusses the issue with a store manager in person. The manager provides a solution, and the customer confirms resolution, closing the communication cycle.||Customer issue resolution and satisfaction.||Positive customer service experience and loyalty.|
|Business Proposal Submission and Client Response||Sender: Company Submitting Proposal, Message: Business Proposal, Channel: Email, Receiver: Client, Feedback: Proposal Acceptance or Rejection||A company submits a business proposal to a client via email. The client reviews the proposal and provides feedback by accepting or rejecting it.||Business opportunity assessment and response.||Successful business agreements and partnerships.|
|Employee Training and Post-Training Assessment||Sender: Trainer, Message: Training Content, Channel: Training Session, Receiver: Employees, Feedback: Post-Training Evaluation||A trainer conducts a training session for employees. After the session, employees complete a post-training evaluation, offering feedback on the training’s effectiveness.||Employee skill development and assessment.||Improved job performance and professional development.|
|Advertising Campaign and Customer Inquiries||Sender: Marketing Team, Message: Advertising Campaign, Channel: Advertisements, Receiver: Customers, Feedback: Customer Inquiries||A marketing team launches an advertising campaign. Customers respond with inquiries about the advertised products or services, completing the communication cycle.||Customer engagement and campaign effectiveness.||Increased brand visibility and potential leads.|
What are the 6 stages of communication cycle?
The six primary components of a communication cycle are sender, encoding, message, medium, receiver, decoding, and noise. The communication process starts with a sender transmitting a message to a receiver through a medium. The receiver responds in an appropriate time frame (feedback). This simple back-and-forth example where the sender and receiver reciprocate roles represents the communication cycle.
Why is communication cycle important?
Communication permeates society, one of the most critical pieces that make up group dynamics. Indeed, we can build effective businesses connecting millions of people worldwide by understanding how communication works.
Connected Communication Models
Main Free Guides: