One of the most famous speeches is Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream.” It was delivered 55 years ago in Washington D.C. to an estimated 250,000 people who showed up in support of civil rights.
People might have never heard of the speech had the sound system not been fixed promptly. It was discovered that someone had sabotaged the sound system just before the event started.
As shown by Dr. King, speeches are powerful and can be used to move mountains. That’s why it’s important to know the different types of speeches and how you can harness them to your advantage.
Table of Contents
Basic Types of Speeches
The purpose of a demonstrative speech is to educate the audience on something. It can include visual aids that add to the demonstration and describe in practical terms how to do something. Demonstrative speeches are similar to informative speeches but informative speeches normally do not include actual demonstrations.
If you give a talk on how to start a blog, how to write a cover letter, or even how to make money on the Internet, these can be considered demonstrative speeches. Asking yourself “how” and “why” questions is a great way to get this type of speech started and, of course, visual aids are a necessity for any type of demonstrative speech or presentation.
If you’ve ever been to a wedding reception or banquet — and who hasn’t? — you are already familiar with an entertaining type of speech. The main purpose of a best man’s speech or an after-dinner speaker is to entertain the crowd and most speakers do that through illustrations, funny stories, and basic humor. Entertaining speeches are informal and usually very short; they are speeches that provide a lot of enjoyment and pleasure for the audience.
People who give informative speeches are there to present the audience with new information on a particular subject. They present statistics and facts about topics such as social and economic changes in the community but they do not use visual aids in the speech.
Instead, they rely on educational information, facts, and various data so that the audience actually learns something. If you’ve ever been to a museum and had a tour guide, you’ve enjoyed the benefits of an informative speech. Any time that a talk is given to give the audience details and information on a certain topic, this is an example of an informative speech.
Persuasive speeches are there to persuade the audience that an opinion expressed by the speaker is the right one. Whether you’re discussing what to eat for supper or which political point makes the most sense, these are examples of persuasive speeches. Most people, in an attempt to persuade the audience that their point of view is the right one, use solid facts to back up their argument. This is one of the best ways to make sure that your persuasive speech does the trick, which means that using research and statistics to develop your argument is always more likely to make people come to your side.
Other Types of Speeches
Oratorical speeches are delivered in the style used by an orator. Its name is a little redundant because “orator” and “oratorical” both relate to the giving of speeches. These types of speeches are usually given at a special celebration such as an inauguration or ribbon-cutting ceremony. They can be long and formal, such as speeches used at a graduation, funeral, or inauguration, or short and informal, such as speeches delivered as toasts at special events.
Oratorical speeches can also be given at events such as birthday parties, going-away parties, retirement parties, and many others. Political speeches are usually considered oratorical speeches and they are better when they do not try and settle a complex argument but instead when they appeal to common virtues and basic truths. In oratorical speeches, the speaker is not trying to persuade someone to do something or believe a certain way but even though they are fairly general in purpose, the speaker can still address certain issues while giving the speech. Inauguration speeches are perhaps the most well-known oratorical speeches that exist today.
Special Occasion Speech
Speeches that don’t fall into any other category are usually classified as special occasion speeches and these can include speaker introduction speeches, designed to be short but interesting and to introduce an upcoming speaker; tribute speeches, which are designed to pay tribute to someone either dead or alive; and award acceptance speeches, which are meant to thank someone for an award and describe what the award means to you.
Special occasion speeches are designed to be short, usually ten minutes or less; succinct and to the point; and mood-setting. In other words, there are distinct purposes for special occasion speeches and whether the event they’re offered at includes something that is happy or somber, for someone still living or a posthumous occasion, or something large or small, they are often some of the easiest speeches to write. Most often, speeches for special occasions are fun and upbeat and if you research them online, it is easy to find out how to get started for your own special occasion speech.
A motivational speech is a unique type of speech and has the goal of self-improvement for the audience members. With a motivational speech, you can turn a negative situation into a positive one. These types of speeches are especially popular in business meetings with executives, to complete a certain task, or to encourage employees to sell more of your product or service. Motivational speeches can be found in elementary school to high school in order to motivate the students to do better on a test or in a sporting event. The speeches are great for inspiring people, lifting a person’s self-esteem, or even motivating an entire crowd of people.
Motivational speeches often use techniques to make the speeches more effective. These include:
- Starting with an activity –g., a breathing exercise — to demonstrate what the speaker’s goals are and which results are expected in the end
- Asking a question in order to pique the audience’s curiosity and interest
- Quoting a scientific study so that your motivational speech has some authority and trust
- Telling a story to get the audience more interested and involved; this can include a historical story, a personal story, or even a professional story, although a story from your own life is likely to work best
- Making sure that you address the audience’s problem so that you can then give them detailed suggestions on what can solve that problem, which will naturally increase their motivation
In a formal debate, much verbal sparring is experienced and the debates come in various forms as well. These forms include Parliamentary, classical, extemporaneous, Lincoln-Douglas, impromptu, public forum, and mock trials, to name a few. As a general rule, in a debate, both sides get equal time to discuss the issue and explain why their view of the issue is the right one. Debates are somewhat different than persuasive speeches because you aren’t necessarily there to get the other side to switch to your side; instead you are there, in essence, to justify why you believe a certain thing.
Debates are arguments that have rules and regardless of which style you choose, each side receives the topic then has a certain amount of time to prepare to present it. Debate teams develop very valuable skills, including research skills, public speaking skills, leadership skills, initiative skills, developing grace under pressure, critical thinking skills, and developing arguments that are both logical and sound. Debaters also learn to think on their feet, which is why many people who join debate teams during high school and college go on to become professional mediators or lawyers.
There are many advantages to belonging to a debate team and some of those can be found here.
The term “forensic speech” merely refers to the practice and study of debate and public speaking. This is according to the American Forensic Association and this activity is practiced by millions of high school and college students each and every year. The reason why it is called forensics is that this practice is patterned after the competitions at public forums during the period of ancient Greece.
The speeches can take place inside a classroom, a national or international tournament, or even a regional event. During the activity, students learn to research and speech skills in order to learn all different types of speeches. Forensic speeches allow students to perfect their craft under the supervision of experienced public speakers and it can even be considered a type of “on-the-job training” because the students involved in this activity are continuously honing their craft while practicing it at the same time.
Examples of Speeches: Possible Speech Topics
If you’re looking for ideas when writing a demonstrative speech, check out websites such as this.
Examples of great ideas for entertaining speeches can be found here.
Some interesting topics to use for informative speeches are listed here.
Get more ideas on what to write about in a good persuasive speech by visiting websites such as this.
Tips to Make Speeches More Effective
- Choose an easy topic. This is the best way to make sure that your speech is both effective and interesting. Choosing a topic that is too complex or technical is a great way to lose the audience’s interest quickly because most people don’t enjoy topics that take too much concentration. In addition, many audiences are made up of people from many different walks of life so choosing an easy topic ensures that the audience will understand what you’re talking about without losing interest at some point.
- Know your audience. This is easier to do than it seems, especially because the people who hire you for the speech often help you familiarize yourself with your audience so that you can have this valuable information before you start writing the speech. One thing to look for is the mental level of the audience so if they are going to be within a certain age range, gender, or area of interest, you can easily cater your speech to this feature. Using innovative techniques to keep the speech uplifting and positive also helps so doing your due diligence on your audience is always a great first step when creating the perfect demonstrative speech.
- Keep your visual aids interesting. Visual aids are a very important part of a demonstrative speech and if you use a variety of visual aids, the speech is guaranteed to keep the audience’s attention. It’s best if you use visual aids such as drawings, photographs, 3-D items, and even flashcards for more emphasis. If you go back and forth between color and black-and-white pictures and visual aids of many different sizes and types, that will keep the audience’s interest throughout the speech. Furthermore, making your visual aids stand out is also important because during many speeches, the audience members pay more attention to the visual aids than they do to the speech itself.
- Add entertainment of some type. This can include a video, a sound clip, or even a funny cartoon. If you insert one of these items periodically throughout your speech, it not only keeps things more interesting and entertaining but it also enables it to be funnier, which means that it is going to be a speech that people will remember for a very long time.
- Tell jokes periodically. Many effective entertaining speeches have jokes inserted into them every now and then. If you’re delivering your speech, simply stop occasionally and say, “that reminds me of a joke…” Even entertaining speeches can have slow spots and a good joke can break up the monotony and keep the entertaining speech, well, entertaining.
- Tell funny stories. Funny stories go great with entertaining speeches because much as the speeches themselves, these stories are designed to help people relax and laugh a bit. Everyone enjoys a funny story and if you tell three to four of them in your speech, it can make the speech much more entertaining and something that is guaranteed to be enjoyed by everyone.
- Tell a scary story. As long as it isn’t too scary, this technique works every time. Everybody loves a good old-fashioned scary story and since both these stories and your speech will entertain people, they are the perfect two items to include together. Scary stories aren’t appropriate for every type of entertaining speech but for most of them, they will work just fine.
- Dramatize an anecdote. Anecdotes are perfect for entertaining speeches because they are amusing stories about real-life people. They make an already entertaining speech even more entertaining and they can easily relate to the topic you’ve chosen for your speech. Anecdotes also make the speech a little more light-hearted and since there are literally millions of subjects to choose from, it is easy to incorporate an anecdote into entertaining speeches of all types and subject matters.
- Include a theme. A theme that repeats itself throughout your speech is a good way to make it more memorable and also a lot funnier and more entertaining. A humorous theme works best because it fits perfectly within a speech meant to be entertaining. If you’ve researched your speech’s topic thoroughly enough, it will be easy to determine which theme to choose in the end.
- Include enough pieces of information throughout your speech. As a general rule, if you include one piece of information for every minute of the speech, it goes a long way in delivering the right amount of information. If you can, view a stand-up comic’s routine. Most of them go for a laugh every minute so in an average 30-minute routine, they aim to get at least 30 laughs.
- Organize, organize, organize. Your speech needs to be organized from start to finish, which means keeping in mind what you want to teach the audience and listing points that describe each of these things. Remember, this is a speech that is supposed to teach something to the audience so writing out your speech in bullet form is a great way to keep it organized. This organization takes a lot of pre-planning so keep all of this in mind while you’re writing your speech.
- Don’t recite your speech word for Instead, write it out with 30 to 60 points that you wish to get across to the audience members. Reciting it word for word makes it sound boring and as if you aren’t interested in the topic yourself but giving the speech in your own words makes it more interesting and does a better job of getting your points across to the audience. To make it more effective, write down your speech in outline form and bring that outline with you to the event.
- Make sure that your speech is long enough. Since most people tend to talk fast when they’re nervous, such as when they are giving a speech, it is a good idea to prepare 35 minutes worth of content for a 30-minute speech. Also, practicing the speech more than once helps you determine whether the content you’ve written will suffice. The more practice, the better, and always remember to include more content as related to the length of time that you hope to be speaking.
- Don’t stay stuck behind the podium. Informative speeches can easily be boring speeches so come out from behind the podium occasionally and make direct eye contact with audience members. This serves several purposes. First, it engages the audience more and makes them feel as though you are truly interested in them; second, it lets you know if what you’re conveying is actually getting across because you can more clearly see the expressions on their faces as you speak.
- Make your ending memorable. At the end of your speech, there are a few things that you can do to make it truly effective. These include thanking the audience, giving them your contact information in case they want to get in touch with you later on, encouraging them to ask questions, and, when questions are asked, making sure that you rephrase them so that everyone in the room will understand your answers.
- Choose something controversial. This may sound odd but the truth is that topics that everyone agrees on or is favorable to don’t need much persuasion. A controversial topic such as the death penalty or gun control usually has people on both sides pretty firm in their beliefs and if you can convince one of those people to change his or her mind or understand the other side’s beliefs, this says a lot about your speech-writing abilities. Of course, if you have passion when it comes to your topic, you are likely to be more effective; however, starting with a controversial topic is a great way to get started with your persuasive speech.
- Consider people’s perceptions of the topic. With controversial subjects, it is common for people on both sides to have certain inaccurate perceptions regarding the topic. If you specifically address some of these perceptions, it goes a long way in teaching the other side some facts that they may not have known about your side of the issue. The more they learn about your side, the more likely they are to agree with you in the end. Remember, for most people, perception is reality so addressing people’s perceptions is a great tactic for use in persuasive speeches.
- Use facts instead of emotions. Controversial topics are usually very emotional ones but trying to use emotions to bring people to your side is rarely effective. If you use straight facts and you are able to inform them which sources you used to get those facts, it will at least plant some fact-based ideas in the minds of the other side. This may not convince them to be on your side right now but it is much more likely to do so sometime in the future.
- Consider the other side’s sense of opposition. Regardless of what side you’re on regarding a controversial subject, you are liable to feel a certain amount of opposition from the other side. When you’re giving a persuasive speech, finding a way to eliminate this opposition or the perception of it can help your speech become more effective. Learn the obstacles the other side feels are associated with your view of the issue and find ways to convince them that they will not be ostracized or opposed in any way if they come over to your side. This is easy because once you determine what types of opposition they feel or sense, you can easily address the opposition specifically during your speech.