Types of Public Speaking

The term Public Speaking is very wide in its meaning and interpretation. It ranges from the simplicity of reciting a poem in front of a small group of people to the complexities of delivering lectures and national broadcasts. Therefore, there exist many types of public speaking and the type chosen depends upon the speaker, the moment (or occasion), and the audience. For example, it may be inappropriate to include humour in a funeral speech while it is acceptable (to some extent) in a business speech.

The main types of public speaking are as follows:

  • InformativeWhen a person delivers a speech about a specific person, place, thing, or event, it is an informative speech. This form of public speaking necessitates the speaker to give information, and details, about the topic that he is speaking about. This is a way to impart knowledge to others without seeking any other benefit. It is an attempt to share information with others (i.e., the listeners) rather that to elicit any acceptance or denial from them. This can be simply called a ‘telling speech’.
  • EntertainingPublic speaking on an entertaining mode is that which is done in a lighter and more casual atmosphere. Comedy shows are an apt example wherein participants (i.e., the speakers) deliver dialogues meant to entertain the viewers. Such verbal acts are often coupled with other entertaining skills like acting and theatrics.
  • PersuasivePublic speaking is persuasive in nature when the speaker espouses a topic that he strongly believes in; and would like to make his audience believe in the same. Religious discourses often come under this type as the religious leader propounds the religious theories in the hope of strengthening the belief of his followers, or converting others to his belief. Persuasive speeches are made whenever a ‘conversion’ is sought from the audience. This is also known as a ‘selling speech’ since the speaker is trying to sell a belief or product.
  • Occasion-based (Ceremonial)Ceremonial public speaking is done on specific occasions, i.e., during a particular ceremony. This can range from a vote of thanks (formal speech) in a business meet to a wedding speech (informal speech). Ceremonial speeches are addressed to the gathering (public) on an occasion and are made by people who are the hosts or are integral to the gathering.
  • BusinessPublic speaking in the business domain lies in the group of formal speeches. There is a certain decorum and structure to the speech. Such forms of public speaking are generally accompanied by supporting documents and audio-video presentations to substantiate the issue being discussed.
  • ElocutionWhen a person recites a verse, it is termed as elocution. Such public speaking is pre-planned as the verse is learnt by heart and is practised many times before final delivery. Elocution is a technique used on stage as voice modulation is most important.
  • ExtemporePublic speaking in an impromptu manner is extempore. It is a speech that is not pre-planned nor practised before. It is the imparting of knowledge or giving of views at that precise moment. The person delivering such a public speech has to think and speak as he goes along.
  • MotivationalThis type of public speaking requires the person to be highly confident about himself as well as have motivational power to stimulate the audience. The speaker must be able to draw people into a positive thinking mode by the correct choice of words and actions. Those who have a strong and commanding personality can adopt this form of public speaking.

Thus, it is imperative to decipher the topic of discussion and the audience before determining the type of public speaking to be used.

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