People talking together

Communicating comes so naturally as humans that it’s easy to forget that communication is comprised of many parts. A quick definition of communication can be summed up as:

a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior.


Information is the heart of communication. How it’s shared, how it’s spread, how it’s understood and misunderstood. Sometimes, information is simple—like what time a flight leaves from the airport. But sometimes information is charged with emotions or the receiver is unwilling to listen to/receive the message for some reason. Things can get messy when it comes to communication, so exploring its parts is helpful to gain a basic understanding:

As addressed in the Pyramid of Communication in the video, communication can be categorized at several levels:

  • societal
  • institutional
  • group
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal

Designers who create messages that are transmitted within and between these channels should consider the needs of each level when creating outcomes. Each level has its challenges and advantages. When we design outcomes with the nuances of each level in mind, we are more likely to achieve our intended goals.

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Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University

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