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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Speech come first: Do You Argue?

Spoken language was the first form of communication between human beings. It came long before written language, and writing is a transcript of speech, not vice versa. This more primitive form of communication still provides the most direct access to other minds. The reason why people prefer to listen to a spoken explanation is that it seems to need less effort to understand than the more formal medium of writing. Yet some speakers try to make speech as close to writing as possible, and destroy its freshness and immediacy. Speaking is the direct route from one mind to another, and is the way we usually choose when we want to ask a question, or give an explanation. Research shows that ideas and information are more easily understood and processed through speech than through writing.

Unless they are pretending to be formal, people usually speak in a style which is more direct, and easier to understand, than the style in which they write; speech makes the personal interaction more immediate. One of the reasons is that when speaking, interest and enthusiasm in the listeners are generated by non-verbal, as well as by verbal, signals. The variety and impact of the message are heightened by the presence of another person. Listeners also feel more secure when they can see the person who is giving them new information. Their judgment of the validity of the message, the competence, and the depth of knowledge of the speaker is easier if non-verbal clues, as well as verbal clues, are available. There are many reasons why speaking is the best of the communication channels. It is not always used, largely because people are afraid of their inexperience and inability to speak well. Yet practice and study can provide the skill needed to use this most direct path into the minds of others. It is worth the effort to become an effective speaker.