Chapter 2: Delivering Your Message

11 Messages

It will be helpful to stop for a moment and examine some characteristics of the messages you send when you communicate. Messages carry far more than the literal meaning of each word and in this section you are invited to explore that complexity.

Primary Message Is Not the Whole Message

When considering how to effectively use verbal communication, keep in mind there are three distinct types of messages you will be communicating: primary, secondary, and auxiliary (Hasling, 1998).

Primary Message – refers to the intentional content, both verbal and nonverbal.

Secondary Message – refers to the unintentional content, both verbal and nonverbal.

Auxiliary Message – refers to the intentional and unintentional ways a primary message is communicated. Includes: vocal inflection, gestures and posture, or rate of speech that influence the interpretation or perception of your message.

For example, a coworker stops by your desk to ask a question and…

  • You say, “Have a seat”. (Primary Message)
  • A messy workspace makes an impression on your visitor that you are disorganized. (Secondary Message)
  • You smile and wave your hand to indicate the empty chair on the other side of your desk to invite the person to sit. (Auxiliary Message)

image of an office with multiple cubicles











Parts of a Message

When you create a message, it is often helpful to think of it as having five parts:

  • Attention Statement – captures the attention of your audience.
  • Introduction – a clear statement about your topic; this is also the time to establish a relationship with your audience.
  • Body – present your message in detail, using any of a variety of organizational structures.
  • Conclusion – provide the audience with a sense of closure by summarizing your main points and relating them to the overall topics.
  • Residual Message – a message or thought that stays with your audience well after the communication is finished. This can be an important part of your message.

When planning communication, ask yourself of the following:

  • What do I want my listeners or readers to remember?
  • What information do I want to have the audience retain or act upon?
  • What do I want the audience to do?

Watch the following 6 minute video: How To Begin Your Presentation with Simon Sinek


To summarize, messages are primary, secondary, and auxiliary. A message can be divided into a five-part structure composed of an attention statement, introduction, body, conclusion, and residual message.


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Communication for Business Professionals Copyright © 2018 by eCampusOntario is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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