What Are the Seven Basic Elements of Communication?

The seven basic elements of communication are sender, medium, channel, receiver, feedback, context and noise. The actual names of the elements may vary, but the meaning of the terms are the same.

The first element of communication, the sender, is sometimes called the encoder. The sender is the one who determines the message to be sent and the optimal method for sending the message. The medium is how the message is relayed; it could be a speech, a letter or a wordless skit. The channel, or method, is how the communication is delivered. Examples of channels are classroom lectures, TV or the Internet.

The receiver, or interpreter, is the one who finds meaning in the communication. A communication may have more than one receiver. The receiver is also the one who gives the feedback. The feedback informs the sender whether the message was understood as intended. Using the feedback and the another element, context, the sender determines if the communication was effective.

Context recognizes that much can change the effectiveness of a communication; it includes the environment in which the communication was delivered, the attitude of the receiver and the attitude of the sender. Noise, also called interference, is anything that prevents the communication from being delivered. Noise may be external, like a lawnmower running outside a lecture room, or internal, like a receiver suffering from a cold. All the elements of communication combine to change the effectiveness of a given message.