8 Communication Model Types and How They Differentiate

communication model

Communication plays a vital role in our everyday lives, shaping how we connect, comprehend, and interact with others.

In this article, we will go on an exploration of eight diverse communication models, each offering valuable insights into the intricate processes that govern communication and collaboration in the workplace.

From classic theories to modern frameworks, we will take you through the fundamental principles that underpin successful communication.

Uncover the dynamics of verbal and nonverbal cues, get into the significance of active listening, and gain a deeper understanding of how individuals and groups exchange information.

Whether you’re a seasoned communicator or someone seeking to enhance their communication skills, this comprehensive guide will provide you with a diverse and enriching journey through communication models.

By grasping the subtleties of these models of communication, you can develop a profound awareness of how communication operates and apply effective strategies in various situations.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the art and science of professional communication, empowering you to communicate with clarity, influence, and self-assurance. 

What is a communication model?

A communication model serves as a visual depiction of the communication process, conveying ideas, thoughts, or concepts through diagrams and other means. These systematic representations aid in comprehending how communication takes place.

These models of communication facilitate the identification of potential barriers to effective communication, elucidate the roles played by various elements involved, and underscore the significance of feedback in achieving successful communication.

Through the application of communication models, both individuals and organizations can refine their communication skills and elevate the overall quality of their interactions.

By utilizing these models, they can enhance their ability to convey messages effectively and foster more productive and meaningful exchanges.

8 types of communication models

All types of communication, especially oral communication are essential for how we interact with others, and there are different ways to understand how it works. 

In this section, we will explore eight types of communication models. These models help us see how communication happens and what factors influence it. 

From simple to more complex models, we’ll learn how communication works in different situations.

1. Aristotle communication model

The Aristotle model of communication is a persuasive approach to communication, attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. In this model, the focus lies on the speaker’s ability to influence the audience and elicit a specific response to their message.

To understand this communication model in a professional context, let’s consider a marketing executive giving a presentation about a new product to potential clients. The executive’s goal is to convince the clients to buy the product and become loyal customers.

In this scenario, the marketing executive takes on the role of the “sender” in the communication process. They actively lead the communication and craft the presentation’s content, sharing information about the product’s features and benefits.

The potential clients represent the “receivers” in the communication process. They are passive participants who are the target of the message, and the desired outcome for the marketing executive is their positive response, namely, making a purchase.

To achieve an impactful presentation, the marketing executive must carefully choose their words, understand the clients’ needs, and tailor the content to address their specific concerns. Maintaining eye contact, using an engaging tone, and delivering the information confidently are vital to creating a favorable impression on the clients.

By employing persuasive techniques and appealing to the clients’ interests, the marketing executive aims to influence them to respond favorably and make the desired purchase decision.

The Aristotelian model underscores the speaker’s role in persuading the audience to respond as intended. This communication model finds application in various professional scenarios, such as sales, marketing, negotiations, and public speaking, where effective communication is key to achieving specific objectives.

2. Berlo’s communication model

The Aristotelian model of communication places the speaker at its core, emphasizing their role as the primary driver of communication. 

In contrast, Berlo’s model considers the emotional dimension of the message. Operating on the SMCR model, Berlo’s approach takes into account the Source, Message, Channel, and Receiver to comprehend communication dynamics more comprehensively.

Berlo’s communication model underscores the elements that influence effective communication and identifies the different components involved in the process.

In a professional context, consider a scenario where a project manager communicates with their team members to discuss the objectives and scope of a new project.

  1. Source: The project manager acts as the source or sender of the message, aiming to convey specific information to their team.
  2. Encoding: The project manager encodes the information by converting their thoughts and ideas into a message, which can take the form of oral communication, written documents, or visual presentations.
  3. Message: The message itself contains all the relevant details, goals, and instructions related to the project.
  4. Channel: The project manager selects the appropriate communication channel to transmit the message, such as face-to-face meetings, emails, or organizational tools.
  5. Decoding: The team members receive the message and decode it by interpreting the information conveyed by the project manager.
  6. Receiver: The team members are the receivers of the message, tasked with understanding the project’s requirements, timelines, and deliverables.
  7. Feedback: After receiving the message, the team members provide feedback to the project manager, seeking clarification, expressing concerns, or confirming their comprehension of the project’s scope.
  8. Noise: Noise refers to any obstacles or interference that may impede effective communication, such as distractions during meetings, language barriers, or technical glitches during virtual communication.

Berlo’s model puts emphasis on the importance of clear encoding and decoding to ensure accurate message transmission. It highlights the significance of feedback, allowing the project manager to assess whether the team members have grasped the project’s objectives and address any potential misunderstandings. By considering the communication channel and minimizing noise, the project manager can enhance communication effectiveness and foster a collaborative work environment.

3. Lasswell’s communication model

Lasswell’s model of communication, also known as the “action model,” was proposed by Harold D. Lasswell in 1948. This communication model provides a comprehensive framework to analyze and understand the communication process by addressing five fundamental questions:

  1. Who is the source of the message or the communicator?
  2. What is the content or message being conveyed?
  3. Through which channel or medium is the message being transmitted?
  4. Who is the intended target audience or receivers of the message?
  5. What effect does the message have on the audience or receivers?

In a professional context, let’s explore how Lasswell’s model can be applied:

  1. Who: In an organization, the “who” could be a manager, team leader, or spokesperson who initiates the communication. For instance, a marketing manager decides to launch a new advertising campaign for a product.
  2. Says what: The content of the message is what the communicator wishes to convey to the audience. In our example, the marketing manager’s message would include details about the product’s unique features, benefits, and promotional offers.
  3. Through which channel: The marketing manager chooses the appropriate communication channel to reach the target audience effectively. In this case, they may decide to use social media, TV commercials, and print media.
  4. To whom: The target audience is the group of potential customers whom the marketing manager intends to reach with the campaign. It could be existing customers or new leads interested in the product.
  5. With what effect: The success of the communication is determined by the audience’s response. In our example, the campaign’s effectiveness can be measured by increased product inquiries, website traffic, and ultimately, sales.

Lasswell’s model is valuable for its simplicity and usefulness in analyzing various communication scenarios in the professional world. It helps organizations design targeted and impactful messages, select appropriate communication channels, and evaluate the effectiveness of their communication strategies. By considering all these elements, businesses can improve their overall communication and achieve their desired outcomes more effectively.

4. Shannon and Weaver communication model

The Shannon-Weaver model of communication, developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver in 1949, is a mathematical approach focusing on the technical aspects of communication. It comprises five fundamental components:

  1. Source of information: The initiator or sender begins the communication process by creating a message to convey information. In a professional setting, this might involve a company’s marketing team developing an advertising campaign for a new product.
  2. Transmitter: The transmitter encodes the message into a signal suitable for transmission through a communication channel. In our example, the advertising campaign’s content and visuals are transformed into digital signals for broadcasting on various media platforms.
  3. Communication channel: This refers to the medium or pathway used to transmit the encoded message from the sender to the receiver. It could be television, radio, social media, or other advertising platforms where the campaign is disseminated.
  4. Receiver: The receiver represents the intended audience or target group who receives the transmitted message. In our case, it would be potential customers exposed to the advertising campaign on TV, social media, or other platforms.
  5. Destination: The destination is where the receiver decodes the message to interpret its meaning. In our example, the audience processes the information from the advertising campaign, comprehends the product’s features and benefits, and forms opinions about the brand.

In professional contexts, the Shannon-Weaver communication model is commonly utilized in mass communication, such as advertising, marketing, and broadcasting. For instance, a company launches a new product and uses television commercials to reach a broad audience.

The marketing team designs the commercial (information source) with compelling visuals and persuasive messaging, encodes it into a digital signal (transmitter), transmits it through television channels (communication channel), and potential customers receive and interpret the message (receiver and destination).

The Shannon-Weaver model emphasizes the significance of clear encoding, reliable transmission channels, and effective decoding for successful communication.

However, it is a linear model that doesn’t incorporate feedback or consider the dynamic nature of communication. Nonetheless, it remains relevant for understanding the technical aspects of communication in various professional scenarios.

5. The Osgood-Schramm communication model

The Osgood-Schramm model of communication is a dynamic and interactive approach that emphasizes feedback and context in the communication process. In the professional context, it involves a sender (e.g., a manager) delivering a message (e.g., about a new project) to receivers (e.g., the team).

The communication model highlights the importance of feedback, where the receivers respond with questions or opinions, and the significance of the context, which includes the setting and participants’ backgrounds.

For instance, imagine a marketing manager presenting a new advertising campaign to the sales team. During the presentation, the team provides feedback by asking clarifying questions. The team’s understanding is influenced not only by the manager’s message but also by their experiences with similar projects.

The Osgood-Schramm model underscores that effective communication goes beyond just sending a message; it involves active engagement between all parties, considering feedback, and understanding the context.

This interactive process enhances the quality of communication, leading to more meaningful and successful interactions in the professional world.

6. The Westley and MacLean communication model

The Westley and MacLean model of communication, also known as the Conceptual Model of Communication, is a circular approach that highlights the dynamic and evolving nature of communication.

It comprises five components: source (sender), encoder, message, decoder, and receiver. This model views communication as an ongoing process with constant feedback and adaptation.

In a professional scenario, the Westley and MacLean model can be exemplified as follows:

Consider a marketing team collaborating on a product launch. The team leader (source) encodes the product’s key features and benefits into a marketing message. The message is then conveyed to the team members (receivers) through a presentation or written document.

As the team members decode the message, they may provide feedback or suggestions for improvement. The team leader takes this feedback into account and adapts the marketing message accordingly. The updated message is then shared with the team again for further review and discussion.

This iterative process of encoding, decoding, and receiving feedback continues until the team reaches a consensus on the final marketing message. The dynamic nature of this model enables ongoing refinement and enhancement of the communication process, ensuring clarity, effectiveness, and alignment with the team’s SMART goals.

The Westley and MacLean model emphasizes the circular and ongoing nature of communication, where feedback and adaptation play vital roles in ensuring effective communication in the professional context.

7. Barnlund’s transactional communication model

 Barnlund’s transactional model of communication is a comprehensive and interactive approach that emphasizes the reciprocal nature of communication. It portrays communication as a dynamic exchange of messages where both the sender and receiver actively participate in the process.

This model takes into account various factors like context, culture, and individual perceptions that influence communication.

In a professional setting, we can illustrate Barnlund’s transactional model with a business meeting. In this scenario, a project manager (sender) presents a new proposal to team members (receivers). As the project manager conveys the proposal, the team members attentively listen and offer feedback and queries in real-time.

In response to the team members’ input, the project manager may clarify points and adjust the proposal accordingly. The team members, in turn, respond to the revised proposal, engaging in further discussions, seeking additional information, or expressing their opinions.

Throughout the meeting, there is a continuous exchange of messages between the project manager and the team members, where both parties send and receive information simultaneously.

The communication process is influenced by the meeting’s context, the team members’ cultural backgrounds, and their individual perspectives on the proposal.

As the meeting progresses, the project manager and team members collaboratively shape the proposal’s outcome through active participation and mutual exchange of ideas.

The Barnlund’s transactional model recognizes that effective communication is not one-sided; it involves dynamic and interactive exchanges. It underscores the significance of active listening, feedback, and shared understanding in the professional world, leading to improved decision-making, teamwork, and successful outcomes.

8. Dance’s Helical communication model

Dance’s Helical model of communication represents communication as a spiraling and dynamic process, acknowledging the continuous evolution of interactions over time. In a professional scenario, this model can be illustrated by team meetings throughout a long-term project.

Initially, team members gather to discuss project objectives, tasks, and timelines (Phase 1). As they progress, each subsequent meeting builds upon prior discussions, deepening their understanding and refining strategies (Phase 2).

During Phase 3, the team implements strategies and carries out project tasks based on the insights from earlier meetings. Challenges and new perspectives emerge, prompting them to revisit communication and adapt their approach (Phase 4).

In Phase 5, the team reflects on progress and outcomes, drawing from past interactions to evaluate success and identify areas for improvement. This reflection informs adjustments in communication strategies, influencing future meetings, and enhancing collaboration.

Over time, the communication process forms a helix-like cycle where each meeting informs the next, resulting in continuous learning and shared knowledge among team members.

The Helical model highlights communication’s non-linear nature and emphasizes continuous learning, adaptation, and building on shared knowledge for effective teamwork and successful project outcomes in professional settings.

Are you ready to leverage these models of communication?

Exploring the various communication models provides valuable insights into the complexities of human interaction and information exchange. From Aristotle’s sender-centric approach to Dance’s Helical model, each perspective sheds light on different aspects of communication dynamics in professional settings.

Understanding these models of communication can empower individuals and organizations to enhance their communication skills, avoid potential pitfalls, and foster more meaningful and effective interactions. Never forget about the use of a transactional model of communication in teams.

By recognizing the importance of clear objectives, context, and feedback, professionals can navigate the intricacies of communication with greater clarity and purpose.

It is essential to appreciate that communication is not merely about transmitting information but is a dynamic process that involves active listening, understanding diverse perspectives, and adapting to evolving situations.

The use of a communication plan can not be overvalued here. Whether it’s building trust among team members, delivering compelling presentations, or establishing strong client relationships, the knowledge gained from these communication models can be harnessed to achieve success in the professional world.

As we continue to explore and apply these models of communication, let us embrace the power of effective communication as a catalyst for collaboration, innovation, and positive change within our workplaces and for better workload management.

By valuing open dialogue, respecting different viewpoints, and striving for clear and meaningful connections, we can create an environment where communication thrives, relationships flourish, and collective achievements soar.

Chanty team

Chanty is a team collaboration hub with unlimited searchable message history. Chanty offers team communication, audio calling, video conferencing and task management with the help of the Kanban board.

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