About writing and speaking

When it comes to writing and speaking, people often think that they’re poles apart. 

In some ways they are.

In other ways, they’re quite similar.  We see these similarities in the answers to these questions:

Who am I…

…speaking to?

…writing for?

What will I be…

…speaking about?

…writing about?

Where will…

….I be speaking?

…my piece of writing be read or published?

Now, thinking about these questions, take a look at the photographs below:

Photographs: Unsplash

In these photographs, we see a few things: people in different places, in pairs, in groups, both formal and informal as well as public, professional and private.

Who?

Writing and speaking for different audiences and contexts

When we speak and write, we “talk” to a range of audiences. For example:

      • one person or one-to-one:
        • over a cup of coffee with a friend
        • with a co-worker or teacher
      • to a group:
        • a formal presentation at work or to colleagues at a conference or seminar
        • less formally, from the floor, as part of a discussion at a conference, seminar or workshop
        • outside work or study, at a family or religious gathering

What?

Writing and speaking about different topics

The topics or subjects about which we write and speak are as diverse as the audiences:

      • At work, both our writing and our speaking will focus on the type of business, so it could range from technology to cosmetics, computers to cooking and anything in between.
      • At college, the topics will focus on our studies and the discipline

Here, the content for both writing and speaking will be very much the same, but the tone and formality of the language will vary. This depends on the answer to the “who” question, i.e. the audience and context.

Where?

The place where people will listen to you and/or read your writing

When we write something, we need to bear in mind where is the person or group the will read what we write. For example:

      • In business and in the workplace
        • emails to colleagues, superiors, subordinates and clients
        • reports
        • blogs
        • magazine articles
      • At school, college and university
        • projects
        • essays and papers
        • learned publications
      • At home or socially
        • posts on the social media
        • text messages

When we speak, we also have to consider where we’re talking:

      • In business and in the workplace
        • meetings
        • presentations
        • workshops
        • conferences
      • At school, college and university
        • tutorials
        • seminars
        • presentations
        • conferences
      • At home or socially
        • family gathering like a wedding or milestone birthday
        • church or other social club

So, it’s helpful to answer these questions be for you write and before you speak.

Next time, I’ll look at the writing process…

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