The Channel is the medium where communication occurs, and its importance can hardly be overestimated. Along with the Code, this element strongly contributes to whether the message will be understood and the purpose of the conversation achieved.
Every channel has developed over time its own set of rules and best practices, so code and channel share a very close bond: awareness of these mechanisms often makes the difference between a skilled communicator and the village idiot, with all the nuances between these two extremes.
The creation of the so-called Netiquette is an interesting example of how the Internet community has codified specific behaviors: for example, when communicating online, the use of all caps equates to screaming. To ignore this common understanding will make the source of the message appear rude, or unsophisticated.
Some channels are more suited to deliver specific messages: some stories may sound great in a book and horrible on film, or vice versa, regardless of the writer’s and director’s talent. A brand’s messaging could be perfect for Facebook or Instagram, but not so much for Twitter or LinkedIn. Keeping in mind the purpose of the communication will help identify the best channel (or channels) for delivering the message.
Generally speaking, one major factor which should be taken into account is time. Some channels are extremely direct and processed immediately by the receiver: it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, a picture could never substitute an essay, just like an essay on the dynamics of the propagation of flames won’t help in case of an actual fire: shouting FIRE! is a more convincing choice of channel and message, because of the immediacy of the communication.
The reason why body language conveys such powerful messages is precisely because our brains have evolved to immediately grasp cues about our interlocutor’s intentions from their posture. Face-to-face communication between individuals is so effective because we have full access to all our senses when interacting with the other, and real time feedback about how our message is being interpreted.
Despite the advantages of long distance communication, this is a context where the chance of misunderstandings is greatly increased. Especially in the age of Internet and Mass Media, a personalized approach goes a long way.