Spoken information

If you’ve ever had to ask someone for directions on how to get from A to B, you know that people find it hard to give clear and accurate instructions.  When you give people spoken information, remember to:

  • talk to people calmly and with respect
  • use the correct words for work processes
  • make sure people can hear you
  • make sure people understand what you’ve said, especially the jargon.

When you give people instructions, you also need to:

  • break the information into sections or steps
  • explain the steps in order – try using numbers or words like first, next…
  • repeat or demonstrate things if you need to
  • be patient.

Non verbal communication

Non verbal communication is used to make messages clearer or to add information.  Non verbal communication includes:

  • body language
  • hand signals
  • colour
  • volume, tone and emphasis of voice.

Body language

Body language includes stamping your feet if you are angry, standing up straight while talking to someone important or turning your back on someone you don’t like or you are angry with. It also includes frowning, smiling, winking and nodding. Body language can be friendly, aggressive, angry or relaxed.

Hand signals

Hand signals are often used in noisy workplaces instead of talking or to ‘repeat’ what you are saying. Some hand signals are used instead of words. These include the ‘thumbs up’ sign, waving, the peace or V for victory sign.


Colours are used to distinguish one thing from another. In meatworks colour coded bins, chutes and tubs are used to distinguish edible and non edible or condemned products and areas. Colours are also used as warning signs – green for go, red for stop and amber or orange for caution.


The way we use our voice can also add to the meaning of what we are saying. How often do you use ‘mmm’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘um’ and ‘ahh’ when you are bored or not really listening.

The tone of voice – angry, snarling or cheerful – shows how we really feel about what we are saying. We often use a different volume, emphasis or tone of voice for training the dog, disciplining children, persuading a friend to do something they don’t want to do or when we are happy, frightened or excited.


Meetings are a way of communicating to give or get information. Your company might have different kinds of meetings, including

  • Plant meetings where everyone in the plant comes. The CEO or the general manager or the site manager usually give information about what’s happening with the whole plant.
  • Departmental meetings where people from one department participate – maintenance, manufacturing, packaging or quality. These meetings are about what is happening in your department.
  • Team meetings. The team is usually from your work area – the boning room or the smokehouse.
  • Committee and Special Team meetings. These are groups of people from different departments or sections who get together for a special reason. Some of these teams are the consultative committee, the safety committee and process improvement or problem solving teams.

Meetings can be a good way of exchanging information between a lot of people. Understanding how a meeting works and everybody’s role helps you make sense of the meeting.

In formal meetings, the chairperson might also be responsible for making sure:

  • there are enough people at the meeting
  • decisions are voted on and votes for and against counted.


Participants have an important role in making meetings work. They:

  • are clear about the reason for the meeting and follow the agenda
  • listen to the speakers
  • take a turn in giving ideas or opinions
  • ask questions
  • have a say in the decision.

What you have to do at these meetings will depend on the purpose of the meeting. You:

  • might be given some information to take away
  • might be asked to vote or make a decision
  • could ask a question – to make sure you understand, for more information
  • could be asked a question.

Sometimes meetings don’t work because participants have bad meeting habits. Some of these poor meeting habits are:

  • coming late or leaving to go home early
  • talking, whispering or laughing throughout the meeting
  • using negative body language including shaking your head, rolling your eyes, slamming papers together, yawning, making loud sighing noises
  • making negative comments – ‘that’ll never work’, ‘oh yeah’, ‘huh’, I don’t believe it’
  • repeating the same point again and again, even when it is no longer being discussed
  • dominating the discussion, interrupting others, talking in a loud voice as they are talking

All these habits stop other people listening, following the discussion and having their say. They make people feel that the meeting is a waste of time.