When we think of communication, most often we think of speech. However, communication comes in many forms and ultimately is the function of transmitting a message from one person to another. Every being communicates. Dogs bark when they want to tell you something, the queen bee buzzes a certain way when danger is approaching. But only humans can communicate through writing. And not only is writing a form of communication, but writing helps us become better speakers.
If you have ever spoken publicly, and then listened to your talk after, you may notice that with every pause came an “um” or that you tripped over your words or weren’t completely clear with what you were trying to get across. Unless of course you read your speech, in which case it was likely mistake-free, but let’s be honest, no one wants to listen to someone read their speech (unless they don’t know they are reading it, which is possible with the brilliant advent of the teleprompter.)
When we write we ensure that we are choosing the very words that convey our thoughts and feelings, that our ideas flow in a logical and powerful way, that we make the points we are trying to get across, and that we edit out anything extraneous. There are no “ums” in writing.
Because we can write, and then rewrite, and then edit and polish, our finished product is something clear and ideally reflects our position. If anything, it can be said to be the most accurate form of communication.
But the more we write, the better we speak, as writing trains us to better present our ideas and message. Writing teaches us that our words matter and that while some may seem synonymous, each one is unique and when we choose the right one that perfectly encapsulates that thought or feeling, we feel understood by that word and that word allows us to be understood.
And when we read what we wrote, we have the opportunity to see how we would have come across to another initially. Sometimes we may write something, read it, and be shocked at how harsh or insensitive we came across. Fortunately, until we choose to share it with others, it is for our eyes only. And we then have that ability to make those changes and ensure our wording is accurate and sensitive. But that very process of reading and editing before we share trains us to think carefully before we speak. It helps us make sure that our words are the ones we mean and our tone is appropriate for the situation.
So if you want to become a better speaker, get out that pen or laptop. Before you say something, write it down. Read it out loud to yourself. Hear how it sounds. See how that makes you feel. And then edit as necessary before saying it to others.