Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Write Like You Speak - Listen to Yourself!

So glad we're in the computer age. Source: Library of Congress
Last week, I encouraged all of you to Write Your Speech. But, what if you don't Write Like You Speak?

Many, if not most of us, do not automatically write like we speak. We write like we were taught in school, or like the authors we read most, or with so much extra thought that the words on the page would overwhelm even the wordiest of speakers.

As speakers, we tend to speak in shorter sentences. We get to the point faster. Our voice inflections supported by facial gestures and body movements add context to what we say. As writers, we add the unspoken elements of speaking as extra prose.

As speakers, we get visual feedback from an audience, and can often tell when they are following our train of thought. We can even interact. As writers, we'll enhance our argument by stating from many different perspectives, never quite sure the reader is still reading.

If you don't Write Like You Speak, what's the point of writing your speech? Two reasons -

1. To learn to write how you speak, of course
2. To become more aware, both of how you speak and how you write.

Remember, even when you read, you're speaking the words in your head - so in one sense, you're already halfway there. Here are four of the best ways I've found to train yourself to Write Like They Speak:

A. Read your written speech aloud to yourself, and LISTEN. Listen for the double-talk, the narrative-speak, and the unnecessary parenthetical phrases. Mark, cross off, and delete as you go.

B. Write it, then wing it. Crystallize your thoughts on paper, read a section, then adlib the section. What's different? Notice the difference in how your brain processes the same ideas from written to vocal.

C. Give your speech aloud FIRST, record it, and transcribe it. Notice your speaking patterns. Rewrite your speech from your 'off the top of your head' version and strengthen it while staying in your own voice.

D. Read your speech in front of someone who knows you. They'll be able to quickly tell you when you are going overboard, and not sounding like yourself.

Learning to Write Like You Speak can take time - but it's time well spent. Your speechwriting speed will increase, and your writing will become more concise. This will make all of your writing more interesting, from emails to articles to the book you've been waiting to write. And, of course, it will help you Speak...& Deliver.

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