You might think it would be easier to show off your intelligence with writing, but research suggests the sound of your voice is actually better at making you seem smarter and your ideas stronger.
Photo by SuperFantastic.
A series of experiments by Juliana Scroeder, Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Chicago, suggest that verbal communication has some distinct advantages over writing when you want to come across as competent, thoughtful, and intelligent. Scroeder and Epley explain at Harvard Business Review:
…written passages lack critical paralinguistic cues that provide critical information about a speaker’s intelligence and thoughtfulness… Without even thinking about it, you naturally flood your listener with cues to your thinking through subtle modulations in tone, pace, volume, and pitch. The listener, attuned to those modulations, naturally decodes these cues… Written text may not convey the same impression as your voice, because it lacks a critical feature: the sound of intellect.
Pitching your ideas in writing might give you time to carefully craft the perfect statement with multiple revisions, but your voice is already designed to cue others into your intricate thought process. The next time you have a good idea, you might want to skip the email and go share it in person. You probably still want to gather your thoughts beforehand, but at least you can approach knowing your voice will do some of the work for you. The whole article is worth a read, so check out more about Scroeder and Epley’s experiments at the link below.
The Science of Sounding Smart [Harvard Business Review]