Different types of public speaking require different speaking styles and skill sets. Here’s a brief overview of 4 broad kinds of public speaking, plus a miscellaneous category with a few others.
• Informative. This category is fairly self-explanatory. Informative speeches are meant to inform. You’ll find these at technology conferences, scientific conventions, idea seminars, business meetings, and other times when speakers introduce new information. Specificity and accuracy are key to delivering effective informative speeches.
• Persuasive. A persuasive speech is meant to convince people of an idea or to commit them to action. You’ll find these speeches in sales, politics, religion, and other arenas where viewpoint and action are paramount. A persuasive speech is most effective when it appeals to the audience on both the emotional and logical level, and then presents to the audience a specific action.
• Ceremonial. These speeches include toasts, recitations, graduation speeches, and other formal events. They must be tailored to the occasion and to the people present.
• Extemporaneous/impromptu. Off-the-cuff speeches may be any of the types above, the only difference being that they are given without significant preparation. Generally, one should follow a preconceived and easy-to-remember organizational pattern in order to ensure effective delivery despite minimal preparation.
• Debate, broadcasting, religious talks, etc. Other types of public speaking exist in other settings. Most of these are just combinations and iterations of the four forms discussed above. Debate is a persuasive speech combined with extemporaneous rebuttals, broadcasting may be informative or persuasive, but must be tailored to the medium. Religious talks may be ceremonial speeches mixed with a good dose of persuasion. These forms and others are best understood when looked at in light of their basic elements and communication mediums.
So before you give a speech, determine what your intent is. Do you want to inform or to persuade? Once you know that, figure out what you must do to get your desired reaction from the audience. Each type of public speaking compliments the others; don’t be afraid to mix-and-match