It is widely known that individuals perceive information in different ways, therefore several types of communication are necessary to be integrated into PB communication. Different typologies exist, but generally there are 4 types of communication which are distinguished: verbal (oral), verbal (written), visual and non-verbal communication. Sometimes visual communication is recognized as a subcategory of verbal and written communication, due to the employment of written (printed) symbols.
In verbal communication words are used in delivering intended messages in an oral or a written form. These two differ by a form, as oral communication is used during presentations, video conferences, phone calls, meetings and private conversations, but a written form - in paper and e-documents, e-mails, chats etc. It is widely applied in both physical and digital environments, allowing PB process leaders to communicate with citizens during municipality meetings and online webinars talking about any stage of PB. Written communication provides the record of information for reference and is shared through pamphlets, blogs, letters, memos, posters and more, combining it with visual content.
As citizens have different learning styles, visual communication might be more helpful for some to consume ideas and information. Visual communication is seen as a valuable source for citizen engagement, as in a dynamic information exchange, visual communication supports verbal and often helps to memorize, turn attention to something or highlight the attitudes towards topics, especially if integrated into written verbal communication. This type of information includes signs, sketches, charts, graphs, multimedia, maps, colours etc. and is of special importance for people who better perceive visual content (compared to long structured texts or orally communicated messages).
Another type of communication is non-verbal, that constitutes the use of body language, gestures, and facial expressions to convey information to others. It can be used both intentionally and unintentionally. Non-verbal communication helps to understand others’ thoughts and feelings, therefore oral verbal communication used together with non-verbal should always focus on matching both for maximizing the effect. For example, if “closed” body language (crossed arms or hunched shoulders) is demonstrated by a speaker, the most engaging and positive oral message can fail in delivery, if a speaker is obviously feeling anxious, angry, or nervous. If citizens as recipients are displaying “closed” body language, the message should be adapted to the citizens’ needs for security or peace. When speaking to the citizens who look positive and open to new information, the certain levels of specific details can be provided instead of justifying a topic, and vice versa.
When planning a communication strategy, it is suggested to use all of the proposed communication types combined and integrated into diverse activities. As previously stated, some may better perceive visual information, some turn specific attention to non-verbal communication, some appreciate structured written information that can be reused again. To reach a maximum of target groups, especially those less active in the terms of PB, communication should include all types, both in physical and online environments.