Oral Vs. Written Communication

Oral Vs. Written Communication

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In our English class we had to tell an embarrassing story orally to the entire class. We then made transcripts of our oral story and wrote a descriptive version. Both versions were significantly different from each other in many ways. Our study is on the differences between oral and written communication. When we are speaking and writing to people, content, style, structure and process are all key factors that determine our delivery.
My oral introduction was short while my written introduction set the scene with details to introduce my story more formally and substantially. In my oral story I began with where I was and what time it was. In my written version I clearly introduced what time it was, where I was, how I was feeling, and where I was going. For example, "At 3 in morning I grabbed my skateboard and my backpack and left my friend's apartment…" While I was talking to my audience I could see their facial expressions and knew they understood and felt it was unnecessary to expand on those details. This is precisely where the structures of written and oral delivery differ. I can gage the reaction of my audience in real-time—their reactions to my story are instantaneous and visible to me—the speaker. Using audience reaction, a speaker can choose to incorporate or leave out certain details that are, perhaps, unavoidably features of a written story. This is not to say that reactions to written work are not instantaneous, for they are, but those reactions are invisible to the author and can only be received in the form of critical or evaluative communication after the fact.
My oral and written body paragraphs tell exactly what happened; however, the written version incorporates the details. My oral version was quickly explained, for example, "About mmm 30 seconds later I just got clothes-lined from the back." My written version is very detailed and informative missing minor details from the experience. For example, "They had funny expressions on their faces as if they weren't quite sure why they were talking to me." Naturally, my written version is more detailed because my audience was not present, and I could not engage in this sort of ongoing perception-of-delivery and re-adjustment process.
The oral version of the story ended abruptly while the written story concluded with everything that happened after the event.

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My oral story ended right after I got up from the grass while my written version ends later in the night when I decided to fall asleep. The written version contains more details about my condition and state of mind. I expanded the written version because I was able to close my eyes and recall the experience as it happened. I was then able to spend time describing details of my feelings and thoughts without regard for class time or audience reaction—I simply let my thoughts run their course in an attempt to fully re-create the experience. This is noteworthy, because both of these stories are told in suitable ways. The oral version was told in a quicker manner—a spare style more appropriate for conversation.
Style and structure differs during oral and written communication. The oral and written versions both flow in the same direction without repetition. In the oral version the story flows in one direction—what exactly happened. There is not much focus on detail and the story never re-tells details. I could tell by the look on people's faces that they were interested in what happened, and I treat the attention of an audience as a gift, not to be taken for granted. There is something about direct social contact, which for me requires this sort of courtesy. Just I as I would not want my time wasted, I seek not to waste the time of others. Just as I would like to hear the fascinating things people have to tell, I would not like them to drone on and on, killing it—so to speak. I knew that I needed to keep it short and sweet to reward and to capitalize on that interest. And so it is in part for this reason that the written version flows in a descriptive and detailed style—to keep the reader informed with a more developed understanding of the experience.
The oral version is strung together with coordinators while the written version flows more evenly. In the oral story ideas are conjoined with "uhs, ums, ands, and so's." For example: "and uh…about 30 seconds later I just…". There are still coordinators although the story is grammatically correct and flows smoothly. For example, "Eight males were walking in my vicinity with no apparent direction. I was minding my own business when I decided to take a quick glace at them…". If I used more descriptive and attenuated language in a story while speaking to my fellow classmates it would sound unnatural; using the word attenuated would lose about 75% of those kids. I wrote the experience differently because I wanted to develop an interpretation with some depth and let the reader light up something with a stronger sense of truth.
The oral version contains slang and sounds like a natural speaker, while the written version is a thought-out, descriptive story. The oral version contains a different style of vocabulary. In front of the class I used words like "prolly, bout, wanna, takin' a beatin', maybe and not even." The written version contains no slang. I dynamically used descriptive words to help the reader experience the situation. For example, "The night air was cold as ice and the damp fog had rolled in hours before. I was alone…" I spoke with slang in the oral version because it felt natural and more in touch with my audience. I wrote the story differently because I felt it was necessary to provide a descriptive story without slang, in order to be taken seriously. While cutting-edge writing today has many forms and styles, it is my feeling that with proper grammar and a more traditional style, more readers will take the writing more seriously. And it goes without saying that with a strong command of the language, the features of experience can be expressed with this sort of traditional and proper language just as efficiently as with slang. Although perhaps there is something lost without the use of slang—some airy, inarticulate essence of today's street or youth culture—but if there is such loss, I'm sure it is minimal and nothing impossible to overcome without that strong command of a more traditional use of the language.
The oral version incorporated social interaction between the storyteller and the audience. The written version tells a descriptive story, lacking the social element. Interaction with the audience was brought into play because I was able to vibe off their reactions and movements. Their facial expressions gave information of how well they understood what I was talking about. In the written version I interacted with the audience by providing descriptive details of what happened. For example, "The moon was out and the stars were not visible." While I was speaking I interacted with the audience by giving eye contact, facial expressions and moving my arms. This method worked because it was natural. I interacted differently while writing because I didn't have a live audience—I provided descriptive details without the non-verbal conventions of communication available during social contact.
We tend to speak in a quicker and less detailed manner because we don't want to lose the attention of the audience and bore them. This is a situation in which time is a factor. Conversely, we write in a comparatively more descriptive way because we don't always know our audience and so we provide details to inform the reader. The audience of a written text can digest significantly more information because of a distinct key structure and that is—they have the ability to digest the information at a rate that they desire. They can put down the text and pick it up later, peruse it at their leisure, or skim it for the vital information. This allows written work to bear a much richer and more textured conversation in which a wealth of detail can be supplied without any concern about the constraints of time.
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