How Communication Changes the World

In 1965, after technological advancements including communication changes made collaboration and work more efficient than ever before, a Senate subcommittee predicted that by 2000, Americans would work just 14 hours per week. They foresaw technological advancements upending the landscape of work — how, when and where we do it, and which skills would be most important to executing it.

A businessperson leads a team meeting using video chat.

Today, while frontline workers do essential, location-based work, “knowledge workers” — people for whom physical work space is less important — function very differently than they did in the past. Remote and hybrid work options and a cultural shift toward better work/life balance have altered the landscape of work.

Amid this shift, which skill is more essential than ever for productivity, efficiency, collaboration and personal success? Communication.

Here are three types of communication:

  • Everyday, operational communication for productivity
  • Connecting with others interpersonally
  • Communication for change — big, aspirational, strategic communication to progress ideals and make an impact

These three types of communication rely on overlapping foundational skills, but each has its nuances in methods and communication tools.

For people looking to communicate for change — to make the world a better place by reaching others and making an impact — an online Master of Communication Management can be a launchpad to a fulfilling career.

Communication Methods

While we may think of communicating for change as the sweeping, influential speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. in the pulpit, Winston Churchill behind the podium or Malala Yousafzai with a microphone in hand, inspiring change is usually steady, detailed work. Behind the scenes, communications professionals follow time-tested methods to make progress.

Here are six essential communication methods.

Verbal Communication

Today, professionals communicate fluidly throughout their workday, and that includes spoken language. Tasks have become more nuanced, so the communication around performing them relies on focused conversations. In person, on a phone call or via Zoom meeting or another online space, verbal communication skills are key to productivity.

Written Communication

Equally essential today is the ability to convey information and ideas through the written word, as work often happens over email and chat services such as:

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Chat
  • Flowdock
  • Chanty

The purpose of any type of communication is to be understood, and when vague or confusing writing is shared over chat, its meaning may be lost. Today, work so often happens through writing, making clarity in written language a key to professional success. Similarly, when trying to reach an audience on social media, brevity is king.

Nonverbal Communication

Some may think that the prevalence of online work has decreased the value of nonverbal communication — communicating through body language and other non-spoken cues — but perhaps the opposite is true. Whether in person or online, the signs of active listening can make it obvious who’s engaged and who’s not, such as:

  • Eye contact or a gaze that’s focused on the speaker or presentation
  • A calm body — hands, shoulders and face are still (outside of focused note-taking)
  • Head nods to show understanding
  • Sensible questions and responses
  • Group clarity on action items

Modern work’s emphasis on collaboration has made every aspect of communication, including nonverbal cues, an important professional skill. It’s not possible to communicate for change without it.

Visual Communication

Visual storytelling and data visualization can be achieved through:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Any type of art, such as illustration

Media can deliver powerful, clear messages to an audience. In a crowded online space, visual communication’s ability to grab attention makes it an essential part of communicating.

Presentation Skills

Communication changes have made it possible to hold a discussion while projecting or sharing supporting materials, such as:

  • Articles
  • Websites
  • Slide decks
  • Spreadsheets
  • Project management tools

These assets ground conversations in a given project, and being able to fluidly share the important points of the material with a group is a key communication skill.

Public Speaking

An individual may give a speech to inform, persuade, inspire — or a combination of all three.

Foundational communication skills that support all other day-to-day, operational and relationship-building communication come into play during public speaking, such as:

  • Brevity
  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Understanding of audience and purpose
  • Confident use of supporting assets or visuals (if any)
  • Nonverbal communication

Leaders of movements and organizations bring these skills to the stage when giving a speech, and studies in communication management layer understanding and practice of these skills to launch a career in communication that has impact.

5 Ways Communication Changes the World

Methodology is crucial to quality communication. Here are five ways using communication methods to reach people can truly change the world.

1. Creates Institutional Change

Communication changes have brought increased transparency and fairness to workplaces in ways such as:

  • More open communication from leadership
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives to make underrepresented voices heard
  • Prioritization of ethics in the workplace

These grow from a brave few’s abilities to communicate effectively at scale and push through for impact.

2. Uncovers Needs and Builds Trust

In both one-on-one relationships and large-scale movements, quality communication can uncover needs and build trust. When people lack the tools, methods and power to have their voices heard, their needs can be — either purposefully or through unintended negligence — ignored. Successful communication can reveal undiscovered needs that help move an organization or movement forward and let stakeholders know that their voices are heard.

3. Spurs Large-Scale Cultural Shifts

Our society is a work in progress. Over time, large-scale cultural movements have successfully shifted how groups of people live. Although there’s plenty of work left to be done, many groups and organizations have become more equitable because forward-thinking groups have used communication skills and tactics to change the world.

4. Educates and Inspires Others

Information sharing moves faster today than ever before. The internet has created communication changes in the way we work and live, so speaking, listening, writing and producing graphics are powerful tools that have the potential to educate and inspire more people than ever before.

Why Communication for Change Is Important

Throughout history, different modes of action have been the most effective at promoting progress in the world. Today, communication is that mode. Communicating for change is rich with possibility, as information and ideas spread quickly through modern channels. Methods such as verbal, written, nonverbal and visual communication can captivate an audience. Developing expertise in those layered skills can create influence and impact from one person or a small group of people through institutional change, uncovering needs, building trust, spurring cultural shifts and educating and inspiring others.

Explore a Master of Communication Management Degree

For anyone ready to communicate for change, advanced education in communication can be the key that unlocks a career of impact. USC’s online Master of Communication Management program prepares students for diligent, detailed work that can make large-scale impact through modern communication methods, tools and tactics.

Instead of searching for a platform for your voice — create one.


Recommended Readings

Master of Communication Management Salary and Job Outlook

High Level of Communication: Connecting with the C-Suite

Is a Master of Communication Management Worth the Cost?


Grammarly, “Clarity: Sharpen Vague Sentences and Paragraphs”

Indeed, “Top 10 Communications Skills for Career Success”

ProofHub, “17 Best Team Chat Apps (To Use in 2023): Who’s Here to Stay?”

The Atlantic, “Where the Five-Day Workweek Came From”

The Balance, “Communication Skills for Workplace Success”