Good Writer = Good Speaker?

 Bill Butterworth gives writers great advice for developing speaking skills.

“You write just like you speak and you speak just like you write.” 

I’ll never forget those words, said to me in a conversation with an editor years ago as he reviewed my book manuscript. He had flown from the East Coast to hear me speak to a large group and we were having coffee after my presentation to further discuss the manuscript’s future. Being young, I was cocky, full of myself, and unaware of the real meaning in what was being said. 

 “Thank you, sir,” I replied, trying to appear humble. I knew I had the goods for the whole public speaking route. Since the time I was in high school I had been making presentations in front of groups, large and small in number, in a variety of venues throughout the eastern half of the United States. Speaking came naturally for me. Audiences liked what they heard and they would come back for more. The only time in my life when I really struggled with public speaking was when I attempted to be someone that I wasn’t. It was a disastrous mistake, but fortunately it was a phase I passed through quickly.

Yes, I felt I was good at oral communication, so when my editor friend made his comment after reading my latest manuscript submission, I sighed in relief, knowing that he thought well of the pages.

But that wasn’t what he meant at all.

Actually he meant exactly the opposite of what I assumed. “When I say you write just like you speak and speak just like you write, I don’t mean that as a compliment,” my friend said as he elaborated on his comment. “Writing is an entirely different bird than speaking. There are certain tools that good speakers use, but there are other tools that a good writer relies on. That’s why we all know so many folks who can write with great effectiveness, but can’t speak well in public, even if their life depended on it. And others speak well, but have more difficulty writing.”

Most who read these words are committed to the art and craft of writing well. It’s what bonds us together. On Saturday, October 10th, we have the opportunity to gather together to work on the other side of communication—public speaking. I am thrilled to have the entire day to assist good writers in some helpful techniques so that they may become good speakers. Among the topics we will discuss, we will talk about how to put a presentation together from scratch, how to weave more humor into your speeches, how to tap into the power of telling stories, and how to be more persuasive in your speaking. 

Writing and speaking—there is a difference. Maybe you will discover that you are one of a rare breed who can do both well.

Bill Butterworth’s extraordinary ability to blend humor, storytelling, wisdom, and practicality has made him one of the most sought-after speakers in venues throughout North America. He was awarded The Hal Holbrook Award by the International Platform Association. Founder of Butterworth Communicators Institute, Bill has written over a dozen books, including a line of business books for WaterBrook Press. Visit his website at:

NCWA offers three great opportunities to learn from Bill in the Seattle area in early October:
–          Bill will teach a one day seminar on “Finding Your Speaking Voice” on Saturday, October 9 in Bothell. See the NCWA website for more information at
–          For more advanced speakers we have one opening left for his three day intensive course. See details about the program on his website at: Normally a $1500 course, Bill’s offering a special rate of $750. Contact Carla Williams at for more information.
–          Bill will start his stay as our keynote speaker at the Monday, October 4th NCWA meeting. More details at:

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About nwchristianwriters

The Northwest Christian Writers Association is an organization of writers providing instruction, encouragement, fellowship, critiquing, and networking. Its purpose is to develop excellent, professional writing that honors God and serves others.

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