What is the difference between Martin Luther King Jr's 'I have a dream speech' and a wedding speech?
Answer: One seeks to inspire and motivate, and the other is entertaining.
Believe it or not, a good speech isn't just a speech; You can use different types of speech according to purpose, dictated by the audience and the speaker's goals.
Generally, speeches fall under four categories: Entertaining/humorous, Informative, Demonstrative and Persuasive.
Let us look at each category in turn.
Entertaining or humorous speeches are the most common type and are usually less formal. Their purpose is to amuse the audience and entertain. They often include funny stories or anecdotes, adding to the humour. Examples of entertaining speeches vary, from weddings and birthday party toasts, to award acceptance speeches.
Informative speeches are explanatory and educational speeches whose purpose is to simplify complex theories into bite-sized chunks. Their purpose is not to persuade an audience but instead to give them enough information to learn something. The speaker can add facts from their own research to add value to the speech.
It's best to keep informative speeches short and precise. When overly long, they tend to bore your audience. Informative speech examples can be found in every classroom, as teachers use this kind of speech daily. They can also be found in lectures, reports and briefings.
However, don't let this put you off, as when presented to the right audience, they are well received. Good informative speech topics include real estate prices and trends over the last 25 years and a brief biography of Freddie Mercury.
A speaker's most challenging task is persuading an audience to take a course of action when they have different opinions from themselves. This is the essence of a persuasive speech, where the speaker's goal is to convince the audience to accept their point of view.
An excellent persuasive speech blends information on the topic, the speaker's point of view and a desired course of action, including why it is necessary. Persuasive speeches are tricky to get right for this reason.
Persuasive speeches are either based on facts or tap into different emotions, triggering a response from the audience. An example would be using a time-limited discount to persuade someone to buy an item.
Sales and marketing professionals use persuasive speeches, and they can also be found in debates and courts of law.
Good persuasive speech topics include 'Space Aliens Exist', 'Why Planking is Good For Your Health' and 'Private Education Promotes Elitism'.
Demonstrative speeches are extensions of Informative Speeches, only they go further by teaching a process. Here the focus is on how to do something. Visual aids are usually incorporated to aid the explanation. Examples would be how to use a Brompton Electric Bicycle and how to bake a cake. For the former, using the bicycle as part of the speech helps the audience understand how to use it.
Careful planning is required for this kind of speech; remember to bring everything necessary for your visual aids to the venue, or the speech won't work. Also, don't miss any steps out, or the result could be a little embarrassing.
These are four very different kinds of speech, equally influential in the right setting. It is possible to overlap the speech types; you might have a persuasive speech with plenty of informative content and facts. Or an entertaining story of how not to do something in a demonstration speech.
The key to picking the correct speech type is considering your audience and your goals.
Some questions to ask yourself:
How knowledgeable is your audience?
Do I have to teach something?
What is the moral or message of the speech?
Am I selling an idea or item?
Is it a formal or informal occasion?
Am I demonstrating a process or activity?
What kind of speech type will you pick for your next speech?
"Speech is power. Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel." — Ralph Waldo Emmerson.