As we stated in the previous articles, there are at least three consequential differences between writing and speaking. While we are only examining three, here are several other differences . . . .
Writing typically demands compact & correct grammatical expression. In speaking, you have much more freedom with phraseology, structural, and grammar.
Writing allows an intricate sentence structure, whereas in speaking you will easily get the audience lost if you don’t break it up. The Apostle Paul goes on and on in Ephesians 1:3-14) before he finishes his thought. Try that with an audience. In fact, just read those verses and the audience will be “lost.”
Writing can use punctuation, paragraphs markers, a dialogue layout, bold and italic print style, and “– ( ) . . . ? ! ___”. To create “a vocal question mark,” the speaker has to raise his/her vocal pitch at the end of the sentence. Have you heard someone who asked a question say to the listener(s), “That was a question!” Or have you heard someone ask, “Was that a question?”
Writing cannot take into account the reader’s feedback or response. The writer needs to anticipate the reader’s thinking, reactions, and response to what is being said and incorporate their anticipations into what is being written.
Writing can only describe vocal intonation. Writers must describe the nuances & intonations. This is one of the great strengths of public address. Nevertheless, there are those who operate as if “reading from a manuscript” is effective, and will cite “Jonathan Edwards” to support their failure as a public speaker.
Writing has no “body language abilities” — no gesturing – no facial expressions. Writers must describe the bodily movements. Speakers can help the audience visualize what they are saying while they are speaking.
As we have stated, because of these differences, and others, there are some very practical implications in regards to each one of them.
√ #1) Because readers are given visual clues such as “paragraph markers,” along with sentences which then capture the general thought of that paragraph, the speaker must use vocal clues and words (especially conjunctions) which also reveal that movement has taken place, and we are not going to “think about” “look at” “consider,” something different than what we have been talking about.
√ #2) Because readers can “rewind,” can re-read the content of a chapter, paragraph, or sentence, the speaker must use “repetition” and “restatement.”
√ #3) Because Public Speaking has real time-limits imposed on it, the speaker must be much more limited and focused.
If audience interest and focus matters to the speaker!
If a speaker’s desire is that the audience hears and/or listens to the entire “book” without closing it before he finishes — (With public speaking, it actually means “closing it & putting the “book” back on the shelf.”)
If a speaker would rather actually accomplish more with less — (“He ruined a great 30-40-minute message in 60 minutes.”)
If the speaker “gets it” and refuses to live in “wish-ville” or “should-ville”
If a speaker understands that we are not living in the days of Jonathan Edwards
If a speaker humbly faces the fact that he/she is not a ____??____, of whom one could listen to far longer
If a speaker realizes that being a reader is different than being a listening
THEN that speaker . . . .
will self-impose a reasonable time-limit upon himself
will consistently impose that time-limit on himself and others
will be aware of and respond to the obvious feedback of a spent audience
will understand that he can communicate a mutual respect for his audience
Some do not “get it,” do not understand that there is a real “reality wall” when it comes to respectfully using the time of “volunteer listeners.” Denying that reality, refusing to accept it will only lead you down the “yellow brick road” of fiction — in 2018 — like it or not!
Decrying that God’s people ought to stay focused and interested will not change the fact even some fell asleep at the preaching of Paul. Even Jesus fell asleep because there is a “humanity element” that operates in all men — sinful or sinless!
“Ted Talks”* are limited to 18 minutes — Just saying!
*”Your brain is an energy hog. It takes an enormous amount of energy to listen intently for a long period of time. One secret to keeping your audience glued to your pitch or presentation is to keep your presentation short. But how short?” — https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/why-your-next-sales-pitch-should-be-no-longer-than-a-ted-talk.html
David Christian narrates a complete history of the universe, from the world’s origination to the Internet, in 18 minutes.