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Writing Guide with Handbook

19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals

Writing Guide with Handbook19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Apply appropriate genre conventions for structure, tone, mechanics, format, and design in writing speech.
  • Demonstrate relationships between ideas, patterns of organization, and interplay of verbal and nonverbal elements.
  • Articulate how genre conventions are shaped and vary by purpose, culture, and expectation.

Oral communication skills are integral to personal and professional success. While many aspects of script writing are similar to those used in writing for print or electronic formats, speech incorporates another domain with its own considerations.

Writing for Listeners and Readers

The script for a speech may begin as a traditional text, but it must be written and delivered in a way that makes it available and accessible to readers and listeners alike. Think of your favorite radio show or podcast. If the author wrote as if composing a written text with no consideration for listeners, the effect for listeners would likely be compromised.

When writing for listeners, think about not only what you want to express but also how you can best support your ideas and claims. Because speech relies heavily on audience members’ auditory skills, listeners with little practice in these skills or who learn better through visual or experiential text may be at a disadvantage. Therefore, the speaker-writer must make a concerted effort to support listeners in other ways.

Writing for Delivery

Text for speech will be only as good as its delivery. If you write for speech in the exact way you write an academic paper, the result is likely to be lackluster, for speech is immediate—that is, it makes an impact as soon as it is heard. A powerful written argument, if orally delivered without voice modulation or emphasis, is unlikely to move listeners and likely to have fluency glitches, as written sentences tend to be longer and more complex. Although topical outlines for a paper and a script might look similar, the way you translate ideas into writing for speech will vary to increase effectiveness. One strategy for making this “conversion” is to read your script aloud during or after writing. Hearing the script will allow you to make revisons and edits to ensure oral fluency, or smooth delivery, including pronunciation, phrasing, stress, and tone.

You can write effectively for delivery by doing the following:

  • Support information by including visual and audio aids to help the audience remember and understand information.
  • Demonstrate information through action, such as dynamic movement or demonstrations.
  • Engage your audience with vocal techniques such as gestures, inflection, changes in speed and pitch, and strategically placed pauses.

Writing with Media

Script writing and presentations often take a multimedia approach. Multimedia can include a variety of channels, media types, and visual aids, including videos, images, infographics, and animations that enhance understanding and bring a new level of engagement among media consumers. The use of media can reinforce the content of a script or presentation, provide a vehicle for delivery, and generally enhance the speaker’s purpose and message.

While formal speeches are still featured at contemporary political, religious, and academic events, other forms of media have become alternatives to traditional public addresses. Free and readily available video platforms such as YouTube mean that more people than ever before are able to share their experiences. Also free and readily accessible for the most part, podcasts are increasingly used as a vehicle to share ideas through an oral medium. Plus, podcasts such as Serial have led to changes within the criminal justice system. Social media platforms now are filled with multimedia, including video, audio, and images, that play a more prominent role than at the time these platforms first were launched. As you develop your presentation in the next section of this chapter, consider which methods of presentation you might explore in order to harness the power of media to your benefit.

Key Terms

Below are key terms and characteristics of scripts and other oral media.

  • audience: the people for and to whom a script is written.
  • Body: the middle and main portion of a script, in which key ideas, evidence, and reasons are presented and elaborated.
  • Citation: credit given to a source used in a writer’s research.
  • Conclusion: the final portion of a script, in which the thesis and key ideas are reiterated and/or expanded to include action or additional consideration.
  • ethos: appeal to readers’/listeners’ ethics, establishing authority and credibility.
  • Evidence: information, such as facts, statistics, and examples, that proves or disproves the validity of a key idea.
  • Introduction: the first portion of a script, in which the author engages the audience and usually states the thesis.
  • Logos: appeal to readers’/listeners’ logic, or reasoning.
  • Parallelism: a rhetorical technique of using similar words, phrases, or other grammatical constructions to connect related ideas, emphasize a point, or add rhythm.
  • Pathos: appeal to readers’/listeners’ emotions.
  • purpose: a writer’s reason for creating a script, often to persuade readers/listeners to agree with a viewpoint or take action.
  • reasoning: logical and sensible explanation of a concept.
  • Repetition: a rhetorical technique of repeating a key word or phrase for emphasis.
  • Rhetorical appeals: methods of persuasion, including ethos, logos, and pathos.
  • Rhetorical devices: ways that writers use language to convey meaning, create emphasis, and draw attention to their words and ideas. Repetition and parallelism are rhetorical devices.
  • Signpost language: statements that help the audience know where your presentation is going. Transitions are examples of signpost language.
  • Topic: the subject of a script.
  • Thesis: a statement indicating a writer’s/speaker’s position on the topic.
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