4 Basic Types of Speeches

by ianmckenzie on March 14, 2012

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The four basic types of speeches are: to inform, to instruct, to entertain, and to persuade. These are not mutually exclusive of one another. You may have several purposes in mind when giving your presentation. For example, you may try to inform in an entertaining style. Another speaker might inform the audience and try to persuade them to act on the information.

However, the principle purpose of a speech will generally fall into one of four basic types:

  1. Informative – This speech serves to provide interesting and useful information to your audience. Some examples of informative speeches:
    • A teacher telling students about earthquakes
    • A student talking about her research
    • A travelogue about the Tower of London
    • A computer programmer speaking about new software
  2. Demonstrative Speeches – This has many similarities with an informative speech. A demonstrative speech also teaches you something. The main difference lies in including a demonstration of how to do the thing you’re teaching. Some examples of demonstrative speeches:
    • How to start your own blog
    • How to bake a cake
    • How to write a speech
    • How to… just about anything
  3. Persuasive – A persuasive speech works to convince people to change in some way: they think, the way they do something, or to start doing something that they are not currently doing. Some examples of persuasive speeches:
    • Become an organ donor
    • Improve your health through better eating
    • Television violence is negatively influencing our children
    • Become a volunteer and change the world
  4. Entertaining — The after-dinner speech is a typical example of an entertaining speech. The speaker provides pleasure and enjoyment that make the audience laugh or identify with anecdotal information. Some examples of entertaining speeches:
    • Excuses for any occasion
    • Explaining cricket to an American
    • How to buy a condom discreetly
    • Things you wouldn’t know without the movies

Effective preparation requires identifying the purpose of your speech. Once you’ve identified your purpose, you can move on to the objective of your speech (coming next week).

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