This really depends on the person being persuaded and the type of topic.
For me (and I know many that agree), it's better to put a complex topic into an email than to walk up to people. Organize your thoughts, use bullet points, prioritize the most important things, add web links or other evidence to support your ideas.
The problem is that when you just walk up to my desk or call me on the phone to talk about something complex, you're now forcing me to become your secretary and transcribe your notes. I'm now "writing out your email" that I would prefer you write yourself. That's not being respectful of my time. I can read at ~250 wpm; you can only talk at ~100 wpm.
Yes, if it's something lightweight like you're trying to convince me to go to the Chinese restaurant instead of Italian for lunch, go ahead and talk to me instead of write up an email. Otherwise, please consider if the recipient of your complex topic wants to be your "secretary".
I would be very curious of a survey that asked if people preferred to be convinced by coworkers talking to them instead of writing emails/reports with organized and coherent data. Would it be a minority or majority of respondents?
I can also assure you I speak faster than I type, and so it's not just your end that counts.
I'm also pretty sure I can say much fewer words with proper tone of voice to convey as much as 5x long email correctly, and a single word of your response and a look at your face as I speak will tell me more of what I should understand of your reaction than even the most elaborate written response...
Persuasion and discussion isn't about me laying out my point clearly in a tidy format though, right? It's about mind-sharing, interaction, sensitivity, etc.
Maybe we come from very different types of organizations? I have never, ever (!) in my 15+ year career been in a position where too many unprepared people forced me in any way to listen to their stupid / ill-prepared ideas....
[Edit] I'm also confused, how does someone coming up to talk to you forces you to write anything down?? (seriously I don't get that part :) )
Because the most important thing in corporate environment is paper trail. If someone comes to you in person and convinces you to do something you still need an email exchange with summary of what you've agreed on, otherwise someday someone will blame you for a bad decision, and you won't have anything material to defend yourself with.
> Maybe we come from very different types of organizations? I have never, ever (!) in my 15+ year career been in a position where too many unprepared people forced me in any way to listen to their stupid / ill-prepared ideas....
You truly work in some parallel universe to my own where the laws of office interaction are very different from those I've observed. Are you hiring?
If you're trying to persuade someone of something, you're the salesman in that situation. Keep that in mind.
>I can also assure you I speak faster than I type, and so it's not just your end that counts.
That wasn't the point; jasode was asserting that many people read other peoples' writing faster than others speak, not that other people can type faster than they can speak.
Agree with the rest of your post, but this was the main takeaway for me. If you compulsively take notes one every single face to face interaction, that's not my problem.
I tend to work in a banking infrastructure environment and it's common practice to take notes,
The number of conversations I have during the day often has me saying, I'm not going to remember everything you've said, could you put that in a email so I can get back to you properly.
It does depend on the environment,
If it matters, do both.
The email is for reference, the walk and talk is for communication, awareness and motivation.
I agree with your point that reading is better than listening for complex topics, but I don't agree this is the reason why, at least not for me.
I find that when someone is trying to orally explain something complex to me, I have to repeatedly tell them to repeat what they've said. They'll say a complex point, I'll think about it for a few seconds for the implications, and in that time they'll have said more things for which I was not listening because I was thinking of their previous point. I'll wait for a few seconds to see what keywords he'll say to see if I can fill in the lost seconds, and then just tell him to flat-out repeat the last X seconds if I can't figure out what he's talking about now. Telling him to repeat himself every few seconds is annoying to both of us, so I'll mostly just continue with what bits of information I can absorb at the speed he's speaking, and then we'll argue and find out the arguing wouldn't have been as necessary if I hadn't missed some points he said. Then we'll, again, talk about his speaking speed, but realize speaking without consideration of the listener is so core to him that it's hopeless to expect change.
It's mostly an issue with a coworker that doesn't think a bit before talking, as in he's not putting any effort into composing the information as he's providing it, and will just bombard me with mixes of relevant and not relevant information like a machine gun. It's exhausting to be super focused to spot when he's subtly gone off in a tangent and then argue with him about how that information is irrelevant to his previous point so he'll stop and get back on track to the issue.
Text, on the other hand, is usually composed, so the information is easier to digest. I can skim around based on keywords to find the most important information, and I can quickly go back and re-read to make sure I've understood the details of what I just read. I can also absorb this information at my own pace. I don't need to depend on the speaker matching his speaking to my listening.
I can also take my time in composing my reply and tune it so that it solves the issue with as little arguing and time wasted as possible.