As a professional speaker, there are countless ways you can stand out from the crowd. Maybe you have a signature phrase or style of clothing. Maybe you have a unique stage presence that’s made you memorable. That said, regardless of your own idiosyncrasies, there’s one thing all great speakers have in common: exceptional speaking ability. Admittedly, it sounds like an obvious trait. However, a large percentage of speakers, while they’re actively working to improve the “business” side of their speaking business, forget about the “speaking” part. In light of this all-too-common mistake, in this guide, we’re going to discuss becoming a better speaker and the importance of continually developing your speaking skills, no matter how well-established your speaking business is.
In this guide, our specific focus is writing and the role it plays in becoming a better speaker. For many reasons, psychologically and biologically speaking (no pun intended), it’s no secret that investing time into writing regularly can have a ton of positive effects on the brain. Yet, there’s very little content out there for why this is especially important in the speaking industry. That’s why we’re going to break down why and how you can use writing for your speaking business to boost your speaking skills.
- How Writing Impacts the Brain
- How Writing Affects Your Speaking Ability
- 5 Ways to Work Writing Into Your Daily Routine
- 1. Make time to write at least once a day, even if only for a few minutes.
- 2. Invest time in well-structured, grammatically correct emails. They will pay off – I promise.
- 3. Regularly publish to your website’s blog.
- 4. Reach out to experts in your field to offer guest posts on their blog.
- 5. Play an active role in creating new content for your speaking business.
How Writing Impacts the Brain
Before we get into the details, let’s start with the basics. How does the physical act of writing affect your brain? To start, when you begin writing, there are several areas of your brain that engage. In addition to the nervous impulses necessary to move your hand, it also engages the more creative parts of your brain, allowing you to extrapolate conclusions and write simultaneously. These portions of the brain include the hippocampus, which is associated mainly with memory, and the frontal lobe, which aids in organization. Additionally, when you begin writing, you also activate the reticular activating system (RAS), a cluster of cells at the base of the brain that helps you filter information.
In other words, at the very least, the act of writing engages all of the parts of your brain associated with reasoning, focus, and, most importantly, language. Consequently, when you write about a given subject, you’re more likely to remember the details surrounding it. This not only makes you more knowledgeable, when you are writing about a topic within your area of expertise. It also aids in formulating conclusions related to it and communicating those conclusions in future content or speeches.
How Writing Affects Your Speaking Ability
That brings me to the second piece of why writing helps in becoming a better speaker: the speaking part. In addition to working a variety of different cerebral areas when you write, you also do so when you speak. This includes everything from a simple dialogue with a colleague to reading a speech aloud. As the person speaking, the extent to which you speak (and use these parts of your brain in tandem) not only impacts your ability to communicate. It also impacts your ability to identify, process, and retain new information. Likewise, for the members of your audience, hearing a story versus reading it means greater retention of your message.
So, to summarize, writing on a consistent basis exercises your brain, increasing your ability to communicate and learn. In turn, you are better able to engage your audience, as a speaker, and they are better equipped to retain your message. In short, by investing time and energy into writing, you not only become a better writer (i.e. more articulate in your online presence). You also become a better communicator and a more impactful speaker. It’s a win for everyone involved!
5 Ways to Work Writing Into Your Daily Routine
Above all, the key thing to remember about becoming a better speaker is the importance of consistency. Like any habit, building a consistent effort to write each and every day takes time. If you’re not a comfortable writer, it can also be hard to force yourself to learn to be comfortable with it. That said, there are a ton of small ways you can work writing into your daily routine. Below are five of the quickest and easiest of those ways, so you can hit the ground running.
1. Make time to write at least once a day, even if only for a few minutes.
First and foremost, this will sound silly, but make time to write every day. Whether it’s a short story, work on one of your presentations, or a journal, set aside time specifically for writing something. By deliberately blocking off time to write, you not only hold yourself accountable to get it done. You also eliminate distractions (to some extent), so that even if you’re not an experienced writer, you can efficiently focus on the task at hand.
For example, although there are definitely days where I write an entire blog in one sitting, other days, I break it down into pieces. I’ll spend 15 minutes writing the outline for the blog. Then, I’ll take a break and work on some design projects for a while. After that, I’ll update a client website before finally jumping back to source some references for the blog I started the day with. For me, it’s all about breaking the writing project into manageable chunks, especially if I’m not passionate about the topic of the blog I’m working on.
Likewise, in your own day-to-day schedule, set time aside to crunch out a few paragraphs. Ultimately, the subject of your writing doesn’t matter. It can be personal, professional, or a little of both. The goal is to flex your metaphorical writing muscle and build the habit of writing. That way, one day at a time, you get more practice and the words come more and more naturally. Plus, if you’re not convinced it will be beneficial to your speaking business, consider it an opportunity to reflect a bit. We only improve by acknowledging our faults, so even if you hate writing, jotting down your thoughts can give you an insight into what other areas of your life need a little TLC.
2. Invest time in well-structured, grammatically correct emails. They will pay off – I promise.
Moving on, the second method of writing, as a way of becoming a better speaker, is sending emails. In this day and age, we’re all familiar with two less-than-preferable types of emails. The first type is the email that was hastily typed out and includes minimal information. Generally, these emails are confusing and lead to a time-consuming email conversation, as the original sender hasn’t been clear about what they mean and what they’re looking for.
The second type of email is the overly personal email from a client that keeps things short under the guise of being “authentic” or “casual”. Obviously, depending on the client and your relationship with them, this can be appropriate. However, as old fashioned as it may be, for many recipients (myself included) this comes off as a little lazy. If you don’t want to take the time to greet me, be clear about your needs or intentions, and conclude with a “Best wishes” or “Sincerely,” how do I know you’ll be willing to put sufficient time into our work together?
In light of this, one of the ways a recent client of ours became more comfortable with writing was investing more time in her emails. By taking the time to address the recipient, formulate a clear and detailed message, and end the email appropriately, she not only demonstrated her professionalism. She also learned how to quickly and efficiently write anything, saving time in the long run. Additionally, by writing custom and personalized emails, more of her leads turned into clients and more of her clients turned into referral sources. In other words, the old adage “time is money” turned out to be true, as investing more time meant earning more money.
3. Regularly publish to your website’s blog.
Another way to write daily is through regular publications on your website’s blog. Unsurprisingly, publishing on a regular basis is beneficial for a number of reasons, including the traffic it can bring to your website, the prestige it can add to your reputation, and the credibility it can lend to your speaking business as a whole. Additionally, blog posts are a great way to kickstart multichannel marketing. Even if it’s short, a blog can be turned into social posts and downloadable content, both of which can bring even more traffic to your website.
If you’ve never written a blog before, no worries! The speaking industry doesn’t have a ton of competition, where blogs are concerned, and there are a handful of things you can do right out of the gate to make sure your blogs are top-notch.
- The average length of a blog on the first page of Google is 1,800 words. When writing your own blog, aim for this or greater.
- Choose a keyword that your target audience would search for and use it throughout your blog post, especially in the headings, if possible. A few examples of keywords our clients have used are “leadership speaker” and “college motivational speaker”.
- Break up the text in your blog with images or graphics. Aside from making it visually appealing, this also makes the blog easier to digest.
- Post four to five blog posts per month. Ideally, each uses a unique keyword and is over 1,800 words.
Pro Tip: We have a whole section about blog-writing in our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Yourself as a Speaker. If you’re unsure where to start, when it comes to writing blogs, be sure to check it out! 👍
4. Reach out to experts in your field to offer guest posts on their blog.
In addition to your own blogs, another way to becoming a better speaker through writing is by writing blogs for others in your focus industry. Remember, although you’re a professional speaker, you’re an expert in your field first. That means that anything you do to add to your reputation as an industry expert also boosts your value as a speaker. Plus, for other bloggers or companies in your focus industry, your input on their blog also supports their reputation. It’s the same idea of citing dependable sources when you write a scientific article – input from experts shows you did your research, making your statements more credible.
Generally, the same principles of writing your own blogs also apply for guest posts. These include a word count of at least 1,800, images and/or graphics, and attention to keywords. However, depending on the blog owner’s preferences, there may or may not be a focus keyword for the blog you write. In the event that there isn’t a keyword in mind, the main goal is to provide value, even though the blog’s structure can be looser than you would use for a keyword-optimized blog.
Considering this, guest posts are not only a great way to gain writing experience. They’re also a way to quickly get your name out there. After all, in addition to sharing the completed blog on your own website and social channels, the person you’re writing for will also share it. That means more exposure for your name and speaking business in addition to the experience you gain.
5. Play an active role in creating new content for your speaking business.
Finally, whenever any new content is created in your speaking business, get involved! Writing as a part of becoming a better speaker isn’t just about doing so regularly. It’s also about having a hand in writing everything in your business. That way, you know the ins and outs of the content on your website, the free ebooks or PDFs you use for lead capture, and the slides used during your presentations. Plus, as a result, you’ll know for sure that all of your content sounds like you, ensuring consistency in your company’s general tone and your personal brand.
In the end, all of these results and tips come from our own observances in the SpeakerFlow team. In working with clients over the last year, we’ve pulled these tips from clients that go above and beyond to grow their businesses. As a result, although these are fairly general to the speaking industry as a whole, keep in mind that in your own business, you’ll find additional ways of becoming a better speaker. Ultimately, the most important thing is to remember that your speaking skills are your foundation. Nurture those, and the rest of your speaking business will grow, too.
- “How Does Writing Affect Your Brain?” from NeuroRelay.com
- “Neural correlates of verbal creativity: differences in resting-state functional connectivity associated with expertise in creative writing” by Lotze, Erhard, Neumann, Eickhoff, and Langner
- “The Impact of Guided Writing Practice on the Speaking Proficiency and Attitude of EFL Elementary Learners” by Fathali and Sotoudehnama
- “How Does Reading Aloud Improve Writing?” from University of Massachusetts Emeritus Faculty Author Gallery