When you have something important to say, write before you talk.
It doesn’t have to be a public talk or a presentation. Writing before talking has huge benefits, even as a preparation for smaller meetings, one-on-one discussions, brainstorming sessions, etc. Any meaningful exchange of information and ideas can be improved by starting with writing something, even for your eyes only.
We tend to think of writing as a recording activity. It can certainly be one, but first and foremost, writing is a processing activity. It is a manifestation of thinking. Writing can help us think about what we wish to say and refine it to make a more significant impact.
If you have something important to say to or discuss with someone, it is likely based on your information, data, insights, and thoughts. All these bits are potential pieces that can help you build your argument, establish your conclusion, or articulate your challenge. Collecting these building blocks, let alone processing them, is more effective when you write them down.
When you have a collection of pieces to play with in writing, you can see them in front of you and decide which are relevant to the case you are building. You can also do that over time since the information is not volatile. So if you come across additional relevant bits or a new insight, you can simply add them to your raw material collection.
Refining and Arranging the Logical Argument
When you have the bits of information, you can consider different arrangements and flows. The same pieces arranged differently can have different results. Processing the various options is much easier when you see them physically than when they are just in your head.
Once everything is in place, you can go back to the details and refine the phrasing. Each piece of information can be presented and phrased in numerous ways. Knowing the details is not enough — you have to consider how to communicate them effectively, which, again, is easier when you capture the phrasing in writing and can evaluate it.
Rehearsing what you wish to say and how you say it is always a good idea. You don’t have to speak to an audience to benefit from a rehearsal.
Don’t memorize the entire text you’ve written, but read it aloud. Listen to how it sounds, its tone, rhythm, and fluency. Reading the text aloud will help you generate new insights and ideas for refining the text and making it even more effective.
Writing before talking is a great way to think about your argument and perfect it before starting a meaningful discussion.