- Can improving your skills for public speaking make you a better writer?
- Can improving your writing skills make you a better speaker?
Surprisingly, the answer to both of these questions is YES!
Leaving aside the vocal features and body language critical for public speakers (I’ve written about this topic in previous blog articles), the choice of material, organization and pacing of a presentation — the core of a speech — can be significantly improved by developing one’s writing abilities. Surprisingly, the reverse is true as well. Becoming more proficient in one aspect of communication can impact positively on another.
The reciprocal gains from this process were tangibly demonstrated to me by a client I’ve been working with for the past year. In fact, he suggested I write this article as a case study in the crossover effects of improved skills as a speaker and as a writer.
When I work with clients to improve their public speaking, I begin by emphasizing the need to consider the point of view in a speech. Every presentation (even a report) should forward the speaker’s argument. A presentation that captures and holds an audience’s attention contains a persuasive viewpoint. Good speakers never lose track of their goal and continually ask themselves, “What is the main idea I want to convey?”
Similarly, when writing an article, report, or letter of application, a good writer begins with a “thesis statement.” As a writer you should be able to answer the question, “What is the theme of my writing — what do I want the reader to learn or understand?” Following this theme (usually in the first paragraph), every paragraph that follows should be a notch that fits into the whole framework to complete the writer’s thesis, or in other words, the writer’s persuasive argument.
Too many speakers and writers lose this key perspective and never fully develop their speech or piece of writing. What’s the result? The audience loses interest and tunes out, while the reader either scans the rest of the piece or stops reading. In either case, what you have to say or what you’ve written does not succeed.
In the process of working on my client’s presentation skills, the link between gaining proficiency in speaking and writing became evident to him. I’m pleased to say that he’s received extremely positive reviews on his presentations and numerous invitations to write articles for publications within his field, both of which continue to advance his career.
Some good speakers, as well as good writers, may be born that way, but most of us have to work at perfecting those skills. Luckily, this seems to be an interactive process!
Check back soon for more articles on public speaking, writing, executive function skills and speech pathology.