Communication means—transmitting information from one person to another. In this article, I am discussing about the communication triangle approach. Your writing – and any other form of communication – needs to take all three parts of the triangle into equal consideration.
The Communication Triangle approach
In this approach, all you have to consider is: the intention of the writer/speaker, the subject the writer/speaker is writing/talking about, and the context and needs of the audience. However, depending on the needs one may focus on one aspect of the , and setting aside the other aspects.
- Writer/speaker-centered (Ethos)—focused on examining your own response or why you responded the way you did. Building trust by establishing your credibility and authority.
- Audience-centered (Pathos)—focused on convincing the audience to your way of thinking. Appealing to emotion by connecting with your audience through their values and interests.
- Subject -centered (Logos)—focused on trying to understand or make sense of the subject at hand. Appeal to intelligence with well-constructed and clearly argued ideas.
Whether consciously or sub-consciously, your audience wants to know what is the motive of your communication. If you do not make it clear why you are presenting information, some of your audience will assume that you are not being very true, or that you are hiding something. Members of your audience may ask themselves:
- Are you providing information?
- Are you trying to educate?
- Are you making a call for action?
- Are you attempting to persuade others to change a perspective or firmly held belief?
- Are you presenting ideas for problem solving or analysis? Or
- Are you just trying to entertain?
- Where your expertise comes from?
- Are there any expert testimony?
Your audience will be trying to analyze your motives and what you believe, value, and assume. This information helps them determine your credibility and decide whether you are being sincere. So make sure you clarify: Who you are? Why you are competent to communicate? and Where your authority comes from?
When you communicate, you need to understand your audience. Knowing them helps you avoid using technical terms when speaking to lay people, or “dumbing down” the content if your message is intended for professionals. Things to consider here include:
- What are the audience’s expectations?
- How will they use the information you provide?
- What is the audience hoping to take away after reading?
- Why are you communicating to this audience in the first place?
This is concerned as appealing to the emotions of the audience, which is known as pathos. If you want your audience to be moved by what you are saying. Ask yourself:
- What emotion do you want to evoke? Fear, trust, loyalty...?
- Do you have shared values you want to draw on?
- How do your audience’s beliefs fit with your message?
- Connecting with your audience through pathos is a strong means of gaining support.
Finally, your audience analyzes the content and circumstances of your communication.
- What events preceded the communication?
- What types of arguments are used?
- Are they logical and well thought out?
- How are they delivered?
- Where is the document or speech delivered?
- Is this communication necessary?
Here the emphasis is on logic and reason. Your audience need to follow what you are saying, for it to be believable. Ask yourself:
- Have I presented a logical, well-constructed argument?
- How do I support my claims?
- What evidence do I have?
- What are the counterarguments?
Using the Communication Triangle
When you are preparing consider the three elements required for effective communication. If your communication is lacking in any of the three areas, then you will decrease the overall impact your message will have on your audience.
Step One: Fully consider the impact your credibility has on the message. Failing to do so will risk leaving your audience unconvinced.
Step Two: Fully consider your audience; otherwise, they may feel disconnected and the message will be lost. Appeal to their emotions where this is appropriate and honest
Step Three: Fully consider the context of your message. Ensure you deliver it with a solid appeal to reason.
- By applying communication principles to your initial planning, you can significantly increase the success of your communication and it will be effective.
- Your audiences will start believing in you, and will feel you are credible, you understand them, and you are logical.
- Balance Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
- Ensure your communication is clearly understood, and received with correct intention.