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Actions Speak Louder Than Word

By Amy Dunn Williams

The written word and verbal communication each have their own unique styles. Moreover, each has its own time and place. When we write, we stay within strict guidelines of grammar and syntax. A written correspondence often conveys a serious or urgent message, or is reserved for special occasions such as wedding invitations and thank-you notes. When we speak, we are more informal and imprecise. Grammatical rules are not always obeyed and tone, mood and urgency are relayed in the inflections of our voice or in our body language.

Let's look at the following for an example of this difference.

The written word: "Kindly remit the requested amount forthwith."

Oral style: "Please pay your bill right away."

These not-so-subtle differences are the reason why it is better to prepare your speech from outlines rather than attempt to deliver carefully worded, fully written out speeches. A written speech will often sound stilted and too rehearsed while a speech given from an outline will be far more conversational in tone. This will help you to build a rapport with your audience and to infuse your speech with humor, anecdotes and other details that require the timing and intimacy of real conversation. An outline will help you to stay on course, to cover all of the important points you wish to make, and to keep track of statistics and other vital details. Your speech will still be accurate, but by using an outline instead of a prepared manuscript you will entertain your audience, not bore them.

Typically, oral sentences are shorter than written sentences; we use fewer words when we speak than when we write. In fact, more than half of our speaking vocabulary is made up of only 50 simple words. The oral style is also more personal. People are referred to more often, and words such as "I, "me, and "you are used frequently. When we write, we have a tendency to take ourselves out of the message being relayed. Even if the purpose is to persuade or argue, it is at times considered more impartial, and therefore more credible, to speak from the point of view of the third person. This is not the case when we speak. In public speaking we want to appear as though we are having a one-on-one exchange with our audience members, even when we are speaking to a room full of people. It is more acceptable to come from a personal, more passionate perspective when we speak. We make it personal because that is what our audience will understand; we need it to become personal to them as well.

Public speaking is the art of perfecting the oral style, using the subtle nuances of conversation and pairing them with research and persuasive details. Being a strong writer is vital to career success in nearly every field and is an important talent to nurture. But being able to recognize when the written word is needed and when a less formal, conversational oral style is needed will make you an outstanding presenter as well as a powerful writer.

About The Author

Amy Dunn Williams is a freelance writer and public relations professional. She holds a M.S. in communications from Ithaca College as well as a B.A. in English from Le Moyne College. Amy resides in Ithaca, New York with her husband.

This article was produced for http://www.toastmasters-public-speaking.com Copyright 2005.


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