What is speech?

Those of you who remember my weekly internet radio show on the Communication Comedy Network will remember my character Professor Wordsmith.  She (I) did the Word of the Week segments.  In 2011, I'm going to be bringing back some of the old characters I played on the show as YouTube videos.  I thought I'd bring her segments here to Communication FUNdamentals for Word Wednesday. This week's word is something most people do associate with communication: speech!  But as we'll see, speech is much more than a formal recitation of gun control or abortion rights. According to Merriam Webster, speech is: "1a : the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words b : exchange of spoken words : conversation 2a : something that is spoken : utterance b : a usually public discourse : address 3a : language, dialect b : an individual manner or style of speaking 4: the power of expressing or communicating thoughts by speaking" So speech is much more than a formal reciting of someone's ideas on gun control or abortion.  It is the very act of communication.  I've coined a JoJoism which states, "While you may manage to live your entire life without making a speech, you will not get through one day without communicating something to someone!" and this one as well, "The most important communication isn't the speech you'll give to a crowd. It's the conversations you'll share with friends & family." Communication is something we do every day.  We use the power of speech to discuss many things with many different people. The Bible talks about speech, our tongues, lips, mouths and words literally hundreds of times.  The Lord tells us what happens when we speak in grace, ""Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6 and He tells us what the consequences are if we do not, "An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of the citadel." Proverbs 18:19 Some have tried to assert the notion that learning formal speech will prepare you to be an effective communicator, but I disagree.  While learning formal speech will help you formulate your ideas and help you with your powers of persuasion, they will not necessarily help you in a conversation.  Did you ever know anyone who never lost an argument, but frequently lost a friendship because he was a bit pushy?  That's because you cannot approach a conversation the same way you do a formal debate or speech. Just as learning to communicate effectively in a conversation is different from learning to deliver a good speech, learning to master different types of speeches takes slightly different skills. Even within the formal speech, there are many different kinds of speeches: persuasive, political, impromptu, debate, etc. If you read my blogpost from Monday, you'll know that I've challenged you all to a speech this month.  I'm sharing some mini lessons on speech-making all this month to help you along.  If you'd like to learn a bit more about speech or you'd like to get a good listing of great speech topics, visit the Art of Eloquence Speech and Debate Page. By the way, I've started my online seminars back up this year and the very first one will go more in depth on this subject.  It's Thursday, January 27th at 8am PST/11am EST on TalkShoe!  You can see the next several month's topics there as well.


  • BeckyJoie

    May you have loads of success with the YouTube videos. We worked on a recording for Dr, WordWielder and have yet to create the YouTube video but tell Professor Wordsmith that she may bump into him out there in YouTube land one of these days. Best wishes.

  • Cindy Holman

    Oh if it only could, right? People do not think before they speak or react and that causes SO many problems. I love the verse from Proverbs that you quoted above – it seems many of us in the blogging community are on the same wavelength!

  • Carla

    Great post and oh, so true! Communication is very misunderstood, in my opinion. And as you’ve so wisely pointed out, so is speech!

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