You spoke well but didn’t communicate well

While I was in high school, I lost a debate competition. I was devastated, especially because before the results were announced so many people had walked up to me and said, “You spoke so well.” I was quietly confident that the trophy would be mine but to my shock that didn’t happen.

Perplexed, I went to my teacher. I was hoping that she would tell me the results were unfair and that I deserved the trophy. I wanted someone else to tell me what I believed in. 

As I walked in to the staff room and made eye contact with my teacher, she looked at me, nodded in acknowledgement that she had seen me. She then excused herself from the staff room and gave me a big hug . She then looked straight into my eyes and said, “The results were fair (long pause). You spoke well but the person, who won the trophy, communicated well.”  I was confused. Failing to understand what she meant, I walked away.

But today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Speaking is about the speaker or you, and communication is about those to whom you are speaking to. 

My work in Storytelling demands that I speak well. However, equally, if not more important, is the person listening to me. If my words and emotions do not resonate with my audience, then I have not communicated. 

Many people speak well but few communicate well. 

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