Writing and speaking –some interesting similarities

Author of the well-known book Nineteen Eighty Four, George Orwell, has a few interesting things to say about the art of writing. When I read them, I was struck by how much of this is also applicable to public speaking. For example he scorns that writers often simply “put down a mass of words which obscure the real meaning” (1949, pg. vi).  How often do we have to listen to speakers who do just that?

He gives a few rules for effective writing which are equally applicable for public speaking. Have a look:

“Never use a long word where a short one will do

If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out

Never use the passive (I was knocked down by a car) where you can use the active (a car knocked me down)

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an English equivalent”(Orwell, 1949, pg. vi).

As public speakers we are well advised to apply these rules as well –it will be easier to listen to us and, what’s more, people will enjoy listening to what we have to say.

Check out the chapter on effective language use in my book Public Speaking From Preparation to Presentationon amazon.com