The Difference between Written and Spoken word


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today I will be discussing the difference between written and spoken word

Most of you have been writing all your lives

We write for many different reasons for those of you in writing classes

you write essays designed to be read and graded by teachers

You use thesauruses and complex sentences

But these essays differ a great deal

from speeches that are written and designed to be spoken aloud 
 
       There are different techniques in writing and the style is often different

Often when we speak we do not use completely correct grammar 

we often use sentence fragments or we repeat ourselves

In written essays we often seek to eliminate redundancies or repeated words or phrases

In spoken word these repeated phrases often give us emphasis

and help the audience to understand our points better

There are two overreaching elements that separate written and spoken word

First is our approach to grammar sentences and words

Second is the difference when communicating a large amount of information

Let’s start first with grammar

In written essays meant to be read

we focus on grammar and making sure that every rule is followed

We follow the rules of writing

When speaking we do not

If we were to do so our speaking would end up being hyper-correct

Doing so makes us sound formal rigid

On formal occasions maybe we would like to be more formal

however this formality can be a barrier between you and your audience

It makes us as speakers seem stuck up arrogant which is off putting

We don’t like to hear as an audience from a speaker

who seems to think of themselves as better than us

Instead we want to be liked to be considered human

Someone who speaks in complete correctness

sounds downright weird and even sometimes robotic

Sounding pompous or robotic are both detrimental to holding your audience’s attention

So think about how we speak

and do not be afraid to use a sentence fragment

or break a few rules

The next thing to think about is word choice

The simpler the better

I see students all the time using words that they barely understand

simply because they think it sounds better to have a larger vocabulary

However if you barely understand the word

how many people in your audience will understand it?

Why use a complicated word when a simpler one will do?

Remember you are trying to communicate an idea

The number one goal is to be understood

Instead of saying “increasing revenue generation” say “making more money”

They mean the same but one is much easier to understand than the other

Remember to use the shortened forms of words

like don’t won’t isn’t instead of do not will not is not

Sometimes using the long form of a word or a phrase in a speech

can be useful for creating emphasis

such as “I will not do that”

But if you are not going for that emphasis

simply say “I won’t do that”

Some types of words to avoid

include jargon or niche terms that only a few people understand

Also avoid uncommon acronyms that people may not be familiar with

Avoid slang and avoid offensive words

Similar to words use simpler shorter sentences

Avoid complex compound sentences

These can be more difficult to understand

Sometimes clauses in complex sentences delay meaning

and listeners in the audience may have a hard time

remembering what you were saying at the start of a long sentence

Remember that the audience does not have a copy of your script

They can’t see the words

Think about what you do

when you have a complex sentence that is hard to read and understand

when you are reading

You go back you read it again! And again! Until you understand

What happens in a speech?

The speaker keeps talking and moves on to a new sentence 

You can’t go back You get lost

And once again losing an audience

because you are confusing them with long sentences is death

They will get bored and stop listening

Use short sentences

Take longer sentences and break them into smaller parts

Make sure that you can be understood

Finally repetition

As I mentioned earlier we try to eliminate repetition in written word

In spoken word we should embrace it

It is a tool for making ourselves clear

I said that if an audience gets confused and lost they stop listening

Repetition is one way to stop that from happening

It also helps in making connections and creating emphasis

You can use it to connect sentences or ideas

One famous example is when Martin Luther King Jr used the phrase

“I have a dream” “I have a dream” “I have a dream”

In each case he used that phrase to start a new sentence

In all simplicity here is key

Now the second main difference is about conveying large amounts of information

In written word we often write

in much more detail than we do when we speak

This is something we must be aware of when we are writing our speeches

We need to understand once again

that we are trying to communicate with an audience

We do not want to overload them with information

We simply can’t handle all the information when it is spoken

When reading we can take a break

or we can reread a paragraph to understand something better

Written word is dense and thick

Spoken word is concise and to the point

You must cut out extra details

Focus on your purpose

Focus on the idea that you are communicating

What is it that you want your audience to know or understand

by the time you have finished speaking?

The biggest takeaway from this lesson is simplicity

Simplicity in grammar Simplicity in words Simplicity in sentences

Simplicity in details Simplicity of ideas

And of course repetition

This has been another lesson on English Public Speaking

I’ll see you next time when we focus on speech writing

and look specifically at openings in speeches

Thanks for listening