(I’d link the Olivia Newton John video that goes with the title, but I watched it, and it’s just too embarassing. I can’t believe we beat the Russians with culture like that.)

The difference between written communication and speech communication is like the difference between an AM radio signal and a digital TV signal: speech, like digital TV, is a much richer channel. When you write a paper, you transmit your meaning through thin lines of squiggles. If you’re clever, you perhaps include some tables, charts, and pictures.

But when you speak, you get to use much more than the words on your notecards. You get to convey meaning with body language—your facial expressions, your hands, your steps, your whole physical self (that’s called body language). You charge your words with extra meaning with paralanguagevolume (loud or soft), pitch (high or low), rate (fast or slow), and emotional tone (happy, grim, sarcastic, eager).

Good public speaking requires more than a grasp of words and their sound and meanings. You must also have a grasp of body language and paralanguage.

If your words say one thing but your body language and paralanguage say something else, guess which ones usually win?

Speech is more than words. You have to give a whole-hearted performance! Getting into your speech means putting your body and your heart behind your words. Don’t just say what you mean; show that you mean it.