Blog Post 9-14-12

High Impact Speaking and Writing Can Be Learned

The obvious difference between the spoken and written word is that the latter is preserved somewhere in some form. The spoken word, on the other hand, carries with it the nuance of tone, body language, gestures, and immediacy. For both to reach the level of “high impact” takes practice, insight and a sort of “selflessness” that focuses on the listener/reader rather than the speaker/writer. High impact communication - speaking and writing employ similar skills, but with a somewhat different focus.

Speaking with presence, effectiveness and confidence

Even the most experienced speakers sometimes are a bit nervous before important speeches. Confidence certainly comes with practice and experience, but there are skills that can be learned through study and professional training. Pretty soon, giving an impromptu talk with no advance preparation is as natural as casual conversation. It’s all a matter of conviction and belief in one’s own ability to persuade and gaining that indispensable “poise under fire” that stands up under tough questioning.

Writing for the reader

There are some talented writers whose words seem to flow in both an inspirational and orderly progression from the first word of the sentence to the period. Their words seem to hang together with the rest of their writing and form something so cohesive that what they write seems to be more than the sum of its parts. Then there are the rest of us, who don’t have to be talented, but have to strive for three things: clarity, clarity and clarity.

Writing for impact

Everyone can learn to write better simply by taking pity on the “poor reader,” stop beating about the bush, and always go for the active voice when possible. We take pity on the reader by closing the distance between the beginning and end of our sentences; when we get to the point quickly and clearly.

The “low-impact” passive voice

As far as active voice is concerned, think of it as a “cop-out” that some writers use to avoid accepting or affixing responsibility. An excessive use of the passive voice puts the subject of the sentence behind an innocent preposition. It uses stodgy compound verbs beginning with a form of the almost invisible verb “to be.” Sometimes, it leaves out the subject altogether as in, “Mistakes were made.” Small wonder that one of the Flesch-Kincaid readability standards relies on minimal use of the passive voice.

CI International Workshops can help!

Looking to improve your organization’s communication skills in speaking and writing? Contact us for information on our professional workshops.  Schedule a consultation. We’re here for you!