Are You Confusing The Written and Spoken Word? Expert Advice

Effective speakers understand the differences between spoken word and written word.
Understanding differences between the written word and spoken is key to being an effective communicator.

Bill Gove told me, “The written word is for the eye. The spoken word is for the rhythm.” Bill was the first president of the National Speakers Association. Understanding the difference between writing and speaking was just one sign of Bill’s brilliance as a speaker.

Mary, the principal of a very exclusive girls’ school, came to me and said, “Patricia, help! Every year I send a video welcome to the parents and introduction to the year ahead. I just watched my performance from last year, and I was very disappointed. Can you help?”

I asked, “Have you prepared a script?”

“Yes,” she answered.

After looking at her script, I explained, “I can tell that you are a very good writer. However, your script is written, and it doesn’t sound spoken.” We went over what she had written with the goal of making it sound more conversational.

For example, she thanked parents for responding to her survey. I asked her to consider the power of dialogue, “Why don’t you do it in their own words? Use quotation marks to highlight their comments.”

We also worked on shortening her sentences, so it would be very easy to speak fluidly while she looked into the camera.

Bottom line, you may be a brilliant writer, but do not assume you’re going to be a brilliant speaker. Effective speaking involves more than a script.

On the other hand, you might be a great speaker but not necessarily a great writer. You might transcribe what you think you want to say, and then enlist the services of an editor. A retired English schoolteacher takes what I’ve said and makes it sound better on the page. Use the technique you’re most comfortable with, learn to adapt it, and reach out for help, if you need it.

Knowing the difference between the written and spoken word will make you a better communicator.

The best, easiest, and most convenient way to become a great speaker is through Fripp Virtual Training.

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“I wanted a super bowl-quality coach, and I was lucky to be introduced to Patricia Fripp. Her help in coaching and scripting was world class. With Patricia Fripp on your team, you can go places.”
– Don Yaeger, Long-Time Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated magazine, Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, New York Times Best-Selling Author

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Make The Spoken Word Work for You

Just a few of the many complimentary resources on to help you deliver powerful presentations:

Executive Speech Coach and Hall of Fame Keynote Speaker Patricia Fripp works with those who realize that powerful, persuasive presentation skills give them a competitive edge.