Communication Matters Newsletter         
May 2017                                                                Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   View our profile on LinkedIn   Find us on Google+   View our videos on YouTube   Visit our blog
Dear  ,

Similarities Between Speaking and Writing
While I've never considered myself a writer by trade, I have long recognized the similarities between writing and speaking.   Writing my book was the single-best thing I've ever done for my business.  It solidified our teaching model and clarified and organized our training content better than any other method I'd ever tried. 

A few weeks ago I was invited by a client to attend a proposal writing workshop led by Robin Ritchey.  Since I had helped with the oral end of proposals, the logic was that I would enjoy (or gain insight) from learning about the writing side.  Boy, were they right.  Between day one and two, I was asked by the workshop host to give a few thoughts on the similarities of writing to speaking.  These insights helped me recognize some weaknesses in my writing and also to see how the two crafts complement each other.

Here are some of the similarities I find between writing and speaking:
  • Rule #1 - writers are encouraged to speak to the audience and their needs.  Speakers should do the same thing.
  • Organization, highlight, summary (tell 'em what you're going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them).  Structure helps a reader/listener follow along. 
  • No long sentences.  A written guideline is 12-15 words.  Sentences in speaking are the same way.  S.T.O.P.  Use punctuation.  Short and sweet. 
  • Make it easy to find what they are looking for (Be as subtle as a sledgehammer!).
    Speaking Tip be as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Avoid wild, unsubstantiated claims.  If you are saying the same thing as everyone else, then you aren't going to stand out. 
  • Use their language.  Avoid internal lingo that only you understand.
  • The audience needs to walk away with a repeatable message.
  • Iteration and thinking are key to crafting a good message.  In writing, this is done through editing.  A good prepared speech should undergo the same process.  Impromptu is slightly different, but preparing a good structure and knowing a core message is true for all situations.
  • Build from an outline; write modularly.  Good prose follows from a good structure, expanding details as necessary.  Good speakers build from a theme/core message, instead of trying to reduce everything they know into a time slot.  It's a subtle mindset shift that makes all the difference in meeting an audience's needs.
  • Make graphics (visuals) have a point.  Whether it's a table, figure, or slide, it needs to have a point.  Project schedule is not a point.  Network diagram is not a point.  Make the "action caption" - what is the visual trying to say? - first, then add the visual support. 
  • Find strong words.  My editor once told me, "An adverb means you have a weak verb."  In the workshop, a participant said, "You are allowed one adverb per document."  Same is true in speaking - the more powerful your words, the more impact they will have.  Really (oops, there was mine).
  • Explain data, don't rely on how obvious it is.  Subtlety doesn't work.
There are also differences.  Here are three elements of speaking that don't translate well to (business) writing:
  • Readers have some inherent desire to read.  They picked up your book, proposal, white paper, or letter and thus have some motivation.  Listeners frequently do not have that motivation, so it is incumbent on the speaker to earn attention, and do so quickly.  Writers can get right to the point.  Speakers need to get attention before declaring the point.
  • Emotion is far easier to interpret from a speaker than an author.  In business writing, I would coach a writer to avoid emotion.  While it is a motivating factor in any decision, you cannot accurately rely on the interpretation of sarcasm, humor, sympathy, or fear to be consistent across audience groups.  Speakers can display emotion through gestures, voice intonations, and facial expressions to get a far greater response.  It is interesting to note that these skills are also the most neglected in speakers I observe - it apparently isn't natural, but it is possible.
  • Lastly, a speaker gets the benefit of a live response.  She can answer questions, or respond to a quizzical look.  She can spend more time in one area and speed through another based on audience reaction.  And this also can bring an energy to the speech that helps the emotion we just talked about.  With the good comes the bad.  A live audience frequently brings with it fear and insecurity - and another channel of behaviors to monitor and control.
Speaking and writing are both subsets of the larger skill of communicating.  Improving communication gives you more impact and influence.  And improving is something anyone can do!

Communication matters, what are you saying?
Storytelling Workshop May 3rd
     **A few seats still available!**

Storytelling is the One Skill Every Master Communicator Uses

Stories have been around since before printed text, and they clearly have the
storytellying workshop signup button
power to reach an audience and be remembered. But what are the skills necessary to tell a good story? And how can you use stories in business situations to make your message more memorable and more impactful? Join us in this fun, interactive half-day workshop where the participants make the material come alive. 

Whether you're giving a technical work presentation, attending a networking event, engaging in a sales/persuasion situation, or crafting your online content marketing plan, you can apply the principles of storytelling you will learn in this workshop to your message.

Come learn the one communication skill you can't live without.

Presentation Sin
Presentation Sin Book Speaking Tips

For more information on storytelling, see pages 126-136 in my book, Presentation Sin.

This month's Speaking Tip taken from  Presentation Sin  addresses the sin of NOT telling stories at all.

Speaking Tip Telling Stories
Need a Speaker for your Event?

Alan Hoffler Keynote Speaker

Alan Hoffler, founder and director of MillsWyck Communications, is an accomplished keynote speaker.  He uses the skills he teaches to craft authentic, custom messages that energize and motivate audiences.  

Alan's Signature Keynote Topics
  • Winning Communication - Strategies to Connect and Convince
  • Presentation Sin: The Practical Guide to Stop Offending (and start Impressing) Your Audience
  • Why Modern Business Communication is Killing Productivity (and what you can do about it)
  • The Silver Bullet: The One Skill Every Communicator Should Use

Check out the full list of Alan's  keynotes  or contact us a bout customizing a presentation or workshop for your group.  If you need a speaker for your next corporate meeting, professional organization, or conference, contact us  at 

Upcoming Workshops

Raleigh, NC
May 1-2
June 12-13
Aug 28-29
Oct 16-17
Dec 11-12

May 3

Join us for two days that will change your life in our Powerful, Persuasive Speaking Workshop!  This highly interactive, hands-on workshop gives you the skills to face an audience and deliver content in a clear, concise, and compelling manner. Close that deal, give that career-changing presentation, or motivate your audience to action. Speak with confidence, power, and ease. Limited seating.

Storytelling is the One Skill Every Master Communicator Uses. Whether you're a hesitant speaker, reluctant content writer, or a communicator who wants to be GREAT, our storytelling workshop will teach you a valuable and easy-to-learn technique to captivate your audience.

Here's a sneak peek at what a public speaking skills workshop from MillsWyck Communications is really like:

MillsWyck Communications
Communication  matters.  What  are  YOU saying?
Alan Hoffler, Philorator (Teacher & Lover of Speaking)
(919) 386-9238 

A lan Hoffler is the Executive Director and Principal Trainer at MillsWyck Communications.  He is a Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Coach who passionately moves others to effective and engaging communication. 
Follow me on Twitter