For communication to occur there must be at least two participants:
- Message Source – The source of communication is the party intending to convey information to another party. The message source can be an individual (e.g., salesperson) or an organization (e.g., through advertising). In order to convey a message, the source must engage in message encoding, which involves mental and physical processes necessary to construct a message in order to reach a desired goal (i.e., convey meaningful information). This undertaking consists of using sensory stimuli, such as visuals (e.g., words, symbols, images), sounds (e.g., spoken word), and scents (e.g., fragrance) to convey a message.
- Message Receiver – The receiver of communication is the intended target of a message source’s efforts. For a message to be understood the receiver must decode the message by undertaking mental and physical processes necessary to give meaning to the message. Clearly, a message can only be decoded if the receiver is actually exposed to the message.