Types of Non-Verbal Communication

What are the different types of non-verbal communication? How can non-verbal communication make or break a speech?

Nonverbal communication is one of the essential elements of communication. Most people notice and remember how a person delivers a message rather than the words themselves. It’s important to ensure what is communicated nonverbally conveys the message you want to deliver, as an inconsistency between verbal and nonverbal communication can ruin the message. There are many types of nonverbal communication (Cenere et al. 2015, pp. 355) that must be considered when communicating:


Artifactics – Clothing and attire. Clothes, jewellery, accessories, tattoos, piercings etc. What you wear presents an image that quickly takes hold in the mind.

artifactics 1

Figure 1: Tattooed Man

Source: Tattoo Ideas Central (2016)

artifactics 2

Figure 2: Man in a suit

Source: Verweij Juristen (2016)

Chronemics – The use of time. Making your colleagues or underlings wait, interrupting the workday schedule with an impromptu meeting, the time of day you meet with someone. Alters the context and can show consideration, rudeness etc.


Figure 3: Clock

Source: Howard Miller Furniture (2016)

Haptics – Physical contact. Can establish mutual friendliness or agreement, eg. Handshake. Touching a shoulder often expresses sympathy, and close personal contact creates intimacy.

haptics 1

Figure 4: Friendly handshake

Source: Arkansas Workforce Centers (2016)

haptics 2

Figure 5: Intimate hand holding

Source: Beautysalon de Zonneschijn (2016)

Kinesics – Body movements, facial expressions and gestures. Movement in relation to what you are saying expresses interest and is engaging. Facial expressions clearly express emotions. Body movement such as pacing could present casual confidence, nervousness etc.


Figure 6: Sitting in an interview

Source: Akyildiz, B (2015)

Olfactics – Smell in relation to communication. Perfume and deodorant are used to mask body odours and/or give off a pleasing smell. Makes someone more pleasing to talk to.


Figure 7: A nose

Source: Star, O (2014)

Oculesics – Eye contact. Maintaining eye contact implies respect and attention to the speaker and establishes a personal connection (In the Western world).


Figure 8: Two people staring into each other’s eyes

Source: Zumi (2014)

Posture – Pose, stance. Expressive, more than gestures or facial expressions. Eg. Slouching backwards can imply laziness, while slouching forward implies either tiredness or interest.


Figure 9: Different postures

Source: Caladenia Global Corporation (2016)

Proxemics – The use of physical space. Respecting personal space and positioning in a room or group. Invading personal boundaries can be uncomfortable, hindering communication. Position in a group demonstrates status in that group.


Figure 10: Different spaces around a person

Source: Inselberg, A (2015)

Silence – Using pauses for effect or moments of silence. Allows for engagement with the audience or quiet thinking.


Figure 11: Someone asking for silence

Source: Guinan, M (2016)

Vocalics – Tone, pitch, volume, inflection and speed. Can change the meaning of spoken words and the intended message.


Figure 12: A vocalics exercise

Source: Nonverbal communication for beginners (2016)

It is impossible to communicate without sending out nonverbal signals. The receiver uses these cues to interpret the true intent of the speaker, so when delivering a speech nonverbal communication must be carefully considered as it can distort the message (Phutela 2015, pp.45). Nonverbal communication can:

  • Repeat the message your words are saying
  • Contradict what your words are saying
  • Substitute for your words
  • Accentuate the meaning of your message

Animated movement and gestures and an engaged expression can easily enhance your speech and make it memorable. Many famous speech deliverers are remembered for their delivery rather that the words they spoke. On the other hand, delivering a speech in a flat, deadpan manner will bore your audience and send the message that you don’t care for what you are saying. This is unwanted when trying to deliver a convincing speech.


Akyildiz, B 2015, Body language interview, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <https://bulentakyildiz.com/category/cv/&gt;

Arkansas Workforce Centers 2016, Pic handshake, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://westernworkforcecenter.com/partners.shtml&gt;

Beautysalon De Zonneschijn 2016, Blok manicure, image, viewed 7 May 2016,<http://www.beautysalondezonneschijn.nl/behandelingen/manicure/&gt;

Caladenia Global Corporation 2016, Reading body language: non-verbal communication, image, viewed 7 May 2016,<http://doliwidi.weebly.com/non-verbal-communications.html&gt;

Cenere, P, Gill, R, Lawson, C & Lewis, M 2015, ‘Communication skills for business professionals’, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Vic

Guinan, M 2016, Under Active Thyroid Diet, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://www.solve-the-thyroid-puzzle.com/under-active-thyroid-diet.html&gt;

Howard Miller Furniture 2016, Howard miller office mate wall clock, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://www.ifurn.com/furniture-made-in-usa-625254.html&gt;

Inselberg, A 2015, Alan, genellikle kişilerin göremediği ancak hissettiği çizgilerdir. Kişiler bu alana ihtiyaç duyar…, image, viewed 7 May 2016,<https://anetteinselberg.com/2015/07/23/alan-genellikle-kisilerin-goremedigi-ancak-hissettigi-cizgilerdir-kisiler-bu-alana-ihtiyac-duyar/&gt;

Nonverbal Communication for Beginners 2016, Vocalics changes meaning, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://www.creducation.org/resources/nonverbal_communication/vocalics.html&gt;

Phutela, D 2015, ‘The importance of non-verbal communication‘, IUP Journal of Soft Skills, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 43-49.

Star, O 2014, Dažādi fakti., image, viewed 7 May 2016,<http://spoki.tvnet.lv/vesture/Dazadi-fakti/713418/1/5&gt;

Tattoo Ideas Central 2016, Body art tattoo, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://www.tattooideascentral.com/body-art-tattoo-2/&gt;

Verweij Juristen 2016, Social security, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <https://verweij-juristen.nl/sociaal-zekerheidsrecht/&gt;

Zumi 2014, Lucruri pe care femeile NU le înţeleg la BĂRBAŢI, image, viewed 7 May 2016, <http://www.zumi.md/despre-el/lucruri-pe-care-femeile-nu-le-ineleg-la-barbati&gt;


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s