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10.1: What are the Different Types of Speeches?

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    Learning Objectives

    1. Discuss the three main types of speeches.
    2. Discuss the importance of differentiating between the three.

    Speeches have traditionally been seen to have one of three broad purposes: to inform, to persuade, and— Well, to be honest, different words are used for the third kind of speech purpose: to inspire, to amuse, to please, to delight, or to entertain. We will just use “to inspire” as the overall term here.

    Your instructor will most likely assign you an informative and persuasive speech, and then perhaps one more. The third one might be a special occasion speech, such as a tribute (commemorative), an after-dinner speech, a toast, or a eulogy. These four types of speeches fit into the category of “to inspire” or “to entertain.”  It should be understood that these three purposes are not necessarily exclusive of the others. A speech designed to be persuasive can also be informative and entertaining, even if neither of those is the main purpose.  To further demonstrate this, look at the examples below in Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\).

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): General Purposes and Speech Topics
    To Inform To Persuade To Entertain
    Civil rights movement Gun control Comedic monologue
    Renewable energy Privacy rights My craziest adventure
    Reality television Prison reform A “roast”

    Some of the topics listed above could fall into another category depending on how the speaker approached the topic, or they could contain elements of both. For example, you may have to inform your audience about your topic in one main point before you can persuade them, or you may include some entertaining elements in an informative or persuasive speech to help make the content more engaging for the audience. There should not be elements of persuasion included in an informative speech, since persuading is contrary to the objective approach that defines an informative speech. In any case, while there may be some overlap between topics, most speeches can be placed into one of the categories based on the overall content of the speech.


    Tucker, Barbara; Barton, Kristin; Burger, Amy; Drye, Jerry; Hunsicker, Cathy; Mendes, Amy; and LeHew, Matthew, "Exploring Public Speaking: 4th Edition" (2019). Communication Open Textbooks. 1. - CC BY-NC 2.0

    10.1: What are the Different Types of Speeches? is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Lisa Coleman, Thomas King, & William Turner.