Speak clearly: 5 ways to write for the ear, not the eye

A statement might look good on paper, but when spoken aloud in a media interview, it could sound like gibberish. Here’s how to avoid that.

Before I started working with this client, its communications staff had drafted a few messages for their top spokespersons that were almost impossible to speak aloud during a media interview.

To protect the client’s confidentiality, I modified this example and changed the industry. However, the complexity of the message remains intact:

“This multilateral agreement, and its steady progress forward, is critical because it will protect Americans who could otherwise be maimed or killed should they consume—knowingly or unknowingly—unapproved imported meats, unpasteurized dairy products, or dangerous unregulated alcoholic beverages.”

Try saying that aloud. Tough to sound natural while delivering those lines.

Because you probably don’t speak that formally in everyday conversation, you shouldn’t attempt to do so during media interviews. Below is an alternative version of that message. Try saying this aloud:

“We need to sign this agreement quickly to protect Americans from unregulated and dangerous meats, dairy products, and alcoholic beverages.”

The above sentence is written for the ear, and most speakers can deliver it in a much more natural manner.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.