Tips on Verbal and Written Communication

The wonderful people at happened to stumble upon Lasting Impact! They wanted to offer our readers some tips on verbal and written communication for Speech and Debate students. Below is an article specifically designed for our readers, with some added touches by Heather.

The Difference Between Written and Verbal Communication

The goal of all communication is the same: to present information or an idea to someone else. However, the methods vary, and often, so do the results.

With verbal communication, you can use body language, vocal tone, and even sometimes facial expressions to relay your meaning. When you write or email someone, you only have your words to use which convey your message. Sarcasm, humor and even anger may not be relayed as easily with the written word. Though popular tags, such as LOL, make it easier to clarify the meaning behind your words, misunderstandings are far more prevalent using this method than with clear verbal communication. You also don’t get the immediate feedback as you do when speaking over the phone or in person. Even silence conveys the idea that someone either doesn’t understand what you said or doesn’t agree.

How to Be Clear in Written Communication

When you want to learn how to speak to someone clearly in person or in speech and debate it takes practice. Just like when you were little and you were learning to walk, you took baby steps. When you were learning to speak, you didn’t start with full sentences. Don’t get frustrated when this process isn’t easy or takes time or multiple edits.

Here are a few tips to help you in creating written communication with your audience:

• Know what you want to say before you begin writing

Heather says: Come up with your thesis statement and road map and stick to it!

• Keep your message simple

Heather says: Don’t try to make your speech too complicated. Each type of speech has a time limit. Know your limits on how much depth and detail you can cover.

• Keep the focus on the target audience

Heather says: Always keep in mind how you are going to be giving your speech to.

• Summarize your message

Heather says: Having a good conclusion can always be helpful when trying to get your point across. Not to forget, leaves a lasting impression.

• Avoid using slang terms or language the other person may not be familiar with

Heather says: Although a good speech can be conversational, the speech should still be professional.

Much like with verbal communication, you should think about the audience when you write your speech. Imagine how they will understand or comprehend what you are saying. While you won’t have to deal with an accent when you are writing which can lead to misunderstandings, you do have to think about the words you say. If English isn’t their native language, they may mistake words you use for a different meaning. Avoid using large words that might not be in one’s vocabulary or complicated terms. You don’t need to make something more complex or scientific in order to have validation on what you are saying.

Heather says: In the case of Speech and Debate you have a pretty good idea who your target audience is – parents and community judges. Make sure you are communicating clearly to them. Be sure to get feedback before your finished writting. Is your verbiage going over their head? Do you have a point? Are you reaching your target audience?

From handwritten notes to emails to online chats and even to formal business letters, written communication is still one of the primary ways people speak to each other in the business world. This is a skill that must not be overlooked.

Claudette Roche ( is in “accent reduction” in the Vero Beach, FL area. She teaches foreign and American accents to actors and business persons/executives. In 2010 she was named as one of The Top 5 Voice Coaches by Hollywood Weekly Magazine.

photo by: Julieanne Photography