Why do you speak? What is your objective? Are you seeking to inform, to persuade, or to entertain? These are the questions you need first to ask yourself before you write a script. Generally, there are three main types of speeches: informative, persuasive, and entertaining, with each has a different goal, way of writing, and method of delivering. This is the reason knowing why you are giving a speech is important. So let’s examine each type of speech in detail.
This is straight-forward. The informative speech aims to share information, skill, and knowledge with the audience to improve their lives. You might give an informative speech because this is some personal achievement or responsibility, and you might also be driven by the recognition that you can earn. You can speak about objects, people, events, concepts, processes, and issues (O’Hair et al., 2007). Providing accurate, up-to-date, and complete information is vital for you to deliver a respectable informative speech. Make sure you are an expert on the issue you are talking about. A common mistake is often made when a speaker tries to focus the topic in a too big and broad manner to show off his/her expertise whereby several information or points that are not interrelated are being lump-summed into a single speech. Narrowing the topic and making sure it is interesting to the type of audience you are speaking to, it is easier for them to capture. A speaker’s ultimate aim in an informative speech is sharing is caring. He/She has no agenda or intention to convince the audience into adopting his/her sharing. We often see this in an academic context and conference.
When we want to persuade, it generally means that we are inducing the audience to do something through reasoning or argument. We want to convince them to believe in something to change their behavior, attitudes, values, or beliefs towards something, even a person. You might give a persuasive speech because you genuinely believe the change would result in a better life for the audience. You may gain any personal benefit other than recognition and respect you earn if the audience finds it to be true, as you might be selling your service or product. You need to avoid manipulative persuasion by giving untrue information or even distorting the truth to mislead the audience to fulfill your real purpose. In a persuasive speech, audience analysis carries much weight and plays a heavier role than informative and entertaining speech. This is because it is more relevant and easier to talk about a topic that the audience already has responsibility, interest, and personal involvement in the issue. We always see this type of speech in a business and professional context, launch a product, sell a service, debate, a testimony, or do a presentation to persuade the shareholders, the board of directors, or the managers.
We all like to be entertained, don’t we? An entertaining speech is the most popular form of speech, and it is always the easiest type to go viral. This speech often plays with our emotions—happy, fear, hopeful, sad, guilt, disgusted, and touching. Although an entertaining speech can also be an informative or persuasive speech, your main objective would be to entertain. There are generally two entertaining speeches—ceremonial (introduction, dedication, roast, toast, presentation, acceptance, eulogy, and farewell) and inspirational (goodwill and commencement). Generally, a ceremonial speech looks more impromptu, while inspirational speech intends to get the audience to perceive the person or the organization they represent more favorably. An award acceptance speech, inspirational talk, public relations, apology speech, justification speech, and commencement speech would fall under this group. It can be funny, sad, serious, or inspiring, aiming to make people self-inspect, evoke a positive or negative feeling, or inspire people for a better life. Most of the viral speeches you watch, probably shared by your friends and family, are an entertaining speech.
Now, you already know what type of speech you are giving— informative, persuasive, or entertaining! Some speakers may add some entertainment elements into their informative or persuasive speech to amuse the audience for a better outcome. Good content is only the first step to a good speech, how you speak (vocal) and how you perform (body language) are important too. Actually, according to psychology professor Albert Mehrabian at the University of California, both vocal and body language make up of a total of 93% to communicate successfully. You can always count on effective preparation for you to reach your speech goal. You just have to make the effort!