Media Training Worldwide

Write for the Ear, Not the Eye | Public Speaking | Presentation Skills

I love the English language! I love big words, small words, I love a broad vocabulary and that is why I love to write. I was drawn to the writing profession and that is where I started. I have written so many books that I have lost count on how many books I have written. One series, called the “History of English Speaking People” is 10 books long so I know a thing or two about words. But when it comes to speaking, it is a little different. I once famously said that short words are best and old words that are short are the best of all. That is because the ear processes words very differently than the eye. The eye can see big words and pull up a dictionary in your brain, recall and put it together. The ear doesn’t do that so I would constantly chastise my other ministers when they were preparing their documents, speeches, or press releases: use shorter words as it is easier for people to hear it and understand it. My name is Winston Churchill.”

The important lesson here is that a lot of times people try to appear smart and erudite so they use big fancy words that may work in literature or written documents but when it comes to giving speeches or talking to the news media, it is typically counterproductive.

Churchill is absolutely right that it is better to use short words. He would pride himself on being able to give a complicated speech on foreign policy issues never using a word with more than two syllables. If it is good enough for Churchill then it can be good enough for you. So make a note of using simpler and smaller words when you speak.

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