The medium transmits a speaker’s message. When public speaking takes place in a direct, face-to-face encounter, the medium is the air through which the sound travels. When a speech is presented outside or in a large auditorium, a microphone and amplifiers may be part of the medium. We tend to take the medium for granted until we discover something wrong with it, like poor acoustics. Public speeches can also be transmitted through the electronic media of radio, television, and video-or-audiotapes.
The electronic media have major effects on the entire communication process. For example, radio emphasizes the attractiveness, clarity, and expressiveness of a speaker’s voice. Television brings a speaker into a close relationship with viewers, so personality and physical appearance take on added importance. When speakers want news coverage, they must compress important ideas into twenty-second sound bites, and the language must be immediately clear and colorful. Any change in the medium can complicate the speaker’s job.