How You Write Controls How You Speak

Boosting your writing skills will boost your speaking skills
Boosting your writing skills will boost your speaking skills
Image Credit: Fredrik Rubensson

Creating a good speech is a challenging task for any speaker to do. However, what does it really mean to create a good speech? First we have to come up with an idea that we think will appeal to our audience. Next we have to sit down and actually go through the effort of creating that speech. This is where things can get tricky. The process of creating a speech means that we have to do some writing and I think that we all may view this task differently. However, it turns out that how good of a writer we are may determine how good of a speech we can give. This means that we’d all like to find ways that we could become a better writer.

It’s All About How Well You Write

As speakers we all know that we want to use the importance of public speaking to grab our audience’s attention right off the bat, then keep them listening. If we were writers, then we would know that if we couldn’t write an opening sentence that motivates the reader to keep reading, then it’s all over. For speakers, the importance of this cannot be overstated. The opening hook is one of the things that is the same between both writing and speaking. The question that we have to answer is what skills can speakers and writers share with each other to enhance outcomes?

Something that both speakers and writers have in common is that they tell stories. What this means is that the pen and the tongue have many commonalities. We all know that stories, either spoken or written, have an introduction, a body and a close. Within this three-part structure, both writers and speakers can find many ways to boost each other’s confidence and augment the quality of their presentations.

Writing Skills That Speakers Need

Let’s face it – if your speech does not contain any meaningful content then it will end up killing your audience’s early excitement. By taking the time to initially write out a speech in full, speakers can be more certain that their speeches will impart ample substance and tell a story in an organized and compelling manner. Writing out speeches can also stimulate originality – as you write, new ideas will emerge. In writing, just as in speaking, brevity is key to success. When creating a speech we need to edit, simplify and then delete. Writing out a speech also provides the opportunity for more creative word use and helps us to build word pictures. Both of these elements can make a speech stronger.

Writing provides speakers with the opportunity to think through sentence structure and check the dictionary or thesaurus for a word that fits and flows with the rhythm of our speech. The act of writing the most fitting word or phrase makes it easier to remember that word or phrase when you are presenting your speech. There will be less of a need for filler words (uh, ah and um) to plug a momentary mind gap when it happens. Speakers can learn to paint word pictures by reading, imitating and / or actually borrowing (with acknowledgement) the words of good writers. The great thing about writing your speech out is that when you are both the writer and the speaker, you may end up motivating and inspiring yourself, as well as your listeners, to greater heights.

Speaking Skills That Writers Need

You might not realize it, but authors who are marketing their books must speak publicly. In the current world of publishing, writers try to build a platform and then persuade readers to buy their books. What all of this means is that writers can learn from speakers how to overcome their early anxiety and become comfortable performing in the public eye. In order to be successful, they also can learn to influence their audience. The fear of public speaking becomes a new angst that can often shrink a writers’ confidence. These fears of both writers and speakers originate in negative self-talk. This is the inner critic who is saying, “I can’t do this. I’m a private person, a writer. I can’t be a public speaker.”

In order to overcome these negative messages, a writer has to block out negative thoughts with a repetitive mantra such as, “One step at a time. I can do this.” You need to reframe your role from an old, negative frame such as, “This is me. I can’t do this,” to a new, realistic frame: “This is me. I write and tell stories.” When speaking, a writer must breathe deeply and slowly. To make things easier, writers usually face a warm audience when they speak at a book signing or book discussion group. Readers show up because they want to find out more about the author, as well as the book. When a writer is answering readers’ questions it is like telling a true short story, with a beginning, a middle and a close. This is simple, because you know the answers. Audiences tend to listen for commonalities – these serve to increase their attraction to you and your book.

What All Of This Means For You

In our quest to become better speakers, we are always looking for ways that we can improve our speaking skills in order to share the benefits of public speaking. We’d like to be able to tell better stories and not have to worry about forgetting what we want to say next. It turns out that the challenges that speakers are facing are very similar to the types of challenges that writers are facing. These two very different creative efforts actually have a great deal in common. Speakers can improve by becoming better writers and writers can improve by becoming better speakers.

It is recommended that speakers start to write out their speeches. This allows them to choose the words that they want to use. It will also allow new ideas to emerge. When we write out a speech, we can pick the perfect word. We’ll also be able to remember what we wrote and so when we are speaking we’ll use fewer filler words. Writers can also benefit from how speakers deliver their speeches. Writers can often be held back by their inner voices. They need to learn how to reframe their role and use positive mantras. Writers often speak to supportive audiences and they need to realize this and use that to answer the questions that they are asked.

In order to become better speakers, we need to find ways to create better speeches. It turns out that writers face the same set of problems that speakers do. We can learn from each other how to become better. Speakers need to look inside and find their inner writer in order to start to create speeches that are better than the ones that they are currently creating. If we can start to do this then we’ll discover that we have started to write our way to speaking success!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that it would be a good idea to have anyone read the speech that you have written out?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it: a lot of the speeches that are given today are political speeches. They don’t have to be on the national level (although a lot of them are). They can be in our communities and they can be about things that are as small as getting potholes fixed or what to name the new elementary school. However, if we are going to go to the effort of making a political speech, then we really want our audience to understand the importance of public speaking and pay attention so that they side with us. If we want this to happen, then we’re going to have to learn how to work stories into our next political speech.