The Pen Is Mightier Than The … Microphone? Exploring Written & Oral Communication
“I can never be a good public speaker – my command of the English Language is not good!” Sound familiar? One of the surprising observations we see during our time as trainers is the common link that our clients draw between an ability to speak and the command of the English Language. To them, being able to present a powerful speech also indicates that the speaker can wield the English Language in its written form expertly.
This may not be entirely accurate. A great speaker may not necessarily be a great writer. Having trained as a lawyer, I was exposed to the significance of comfortably moving between written and oral communication. More importantly, there are key differences between structure and delivery when presenting ideas in an oral or written form. Think of it in this manner – the oral or written delivery is the vessel through which you deliver your content. Your child may have a preference for a specific mode of delivering his/her content. In our classes alone, we see some of our young speakers who are quick in writing down their speech ideas but take longer to get comfortable with delivering the material orally (and vice versa).
We understand that for parents, it is important to choose the appropriate communication skills for their children in their journey as young communicators. In today’s article, we will share some of the key observations between written and oral communication and how a structured communications training programme for kids can help your child from the first step of their journey.
The Complete & Essential Toolkit for the Complete Communicator
Why learn both written and oral communication? A complete communicator should be comfortable with presenting his/her idea through any means, be it written and oral communication. Communication goes beyond face-to-face interaction – in the modern, fast-paced world, the opportunity to persuade may come in a written form (e.g. drafting an application or a persuasive email or advertising copywriting). Preparing your child to be a complete communicator means ensuring that he/she can manoeuvre between oral and written communication seamlessly.
Speaking & Writing shouldn’t be seen as a dichotomy (a clear split into two opposing camps) such that students can choose to have just one of the two.
“Can I just speak well, but not write well (or vice versa)?”
On one hand, you can’t just languish into the shadows and churn out the written reports behind-the-scenes. Trust me, you will remain invisible – read our article on “Confession Of An Introvert” to learn why.
On the other hand, you can’t rely solely on verbal communications when the situation doesn’t provide an outlet for that – for example, written proposals, emails, newspaper or journal publications. Some may argue that with the prevalence of videos, podcasts, and audio books nowadays, we don’t need to have good writing skills (speaking is enough!). Well…many people still read: journal articles, op-eds, blog posts, marketing emails & copywriting, social media posts, Tweets, proposals, cover letters, office memos etc. Still think it’s enough…?
This is particularly more significant for young public speakers who are just starting out on their communications journey. Their training as a young public speaker should not be entirely fixated on typical speech formats (such as a traditional speech presentation). Instead, learning to communicate clearly, coherently and competently in both oral and written forms will be crucial in preparing your child for the future as a complete and all-rounded communicator.
Clarity in Thought, Structure and Delivery
We believe that communication training does not operate in silos. While there are unique classes/techniques for both written and oral communication, the underlying skill sets may complement each other. One particular distinction between oral and written communication is the absence of delivery opportunities (e.g. vocal variety, body language) in the latter form. While a young public speaker can make up for his/her content with powerful delivery techniques, the same cannot be said for written communication.
Instead, written communication trains young communicators to develop strong habits in learning how to distil their ideas clearly, extract the key points and present them as creatively as possible on paper. Back in Law school, I recall that we were trained to craft persuasive arguments on paper, with focus on structure, brevity and creativity. The written ideas are likewise often the building blocks of your oral communication (e.g. your script). Letting your child explore both types of communication formats will definitely be an asset!
Writing As A Foundational Step To Become A Credible Speaker
Finally, we understand that Singapore’s education syllabus tends to focus on written communication as a medium to teach the English Language (e.g. situational writing, continuous writing, comprehension cloze, synthesis & transformation, editing etc.). The ability to master and wield the English Language proficiently will help your child to become a more credible public speaker. For example, writing allows a speaker to identify gaps in ideas in his/her speech or presentation. When crafting persuasive presentations, I often find myself reverting to the written medium to see if my ideas flow logically and coherently. In this manner, my script or notes will form the basis of a more confident performance!
Wield the Pen and the Microphone with Flair!
It goes without saying that oral and written communication training are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe that tying the various learning points together for a more holistic learning programme is crucial. We hope that with our sharing above, we can help your child to build confidence – both on paper and on the stage!
Something interesting to ponder about…
Have a listen! From 1 minute 37 secs mark…
Influencing others through written and spoken communications is THAT powerful! That’s why you need both the pen and the microphone!
They mutually engage and augment each other. It’s a virtuous cycle.
The more you want to “sound” sophisticated and learned (i.e. express to impress), the more you have to study the vocabulary, grammar, sentence variety etc. (through reading and writing that language). This will build up your arsenal of words/ phrase/ proverbs/ idioms/ literary devices to better verbalize your messages.
Conversely, the more you want to retain your literary skills & solidify habits of writing proverbial phrases and sayings (sometimes, you learn certain phrases or idioms through your conversations and you find yourself writing them in your essays and reports), the more you need to SAY IT, USE IT in your daily conversations/ speeches/ Q&A!
It’s certainly harder to remember something that you hardly use.
For instance, you just learnt a new word – “piquant”; what are the chances of you remembering its definition and ways to apply this word if you don’t use it in your daily conversations enough (or writing)? Not high.
Public Speaking Academy strives to help students with both types of communication:
For verbal communication:
Public Speaking for Kids/ Children:
Public Speaking for Adults:
For written communication:
PSLE English Tuition for Primary 5 & 6: