2. Types of speeches

The 4 types of speeches in public speaking

Informative, demonstrative, persuasive and special occasion

By: Susan Dugdale 

There are four main types of speeches or types of public speaking.

  1. Informative
  2. Demonstrative
  3. Persuasive
  4. Special occasion or Entertaining

To harness their power a speaker needs to be proficient in all of them: to understand which speech type to use when, and how to use it for maximum effectiveness.

What's on this page:

An overview of each speech type, how it's used, writing guidelines and speech examples:

Graphic: 4 types of speeches: informative, demonstrative, persuasive, special occasion

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Informative speeches

An informative speech does as its name suggests: informs. It provides information about a topic. The topic could be a place, a person, an animal, a plant, an object, an event, or a process.

The informative speech is primarily explanatory and educational.

Its purpose is not to persuade or influence opinion one way or the other. It is to provide sufficient relevant material, (with references to verifiable facts, accounts, studies and/or statistics), for the audience to have learned something. 

What they think, feel, or do about the information after they've learned it, is up to them.

This type of speech is frequently used for giving reports, lectures and, sometimes for training purposes. 

Examples of informative speech topics:

  • the number, price and type of dwellings that have sold in a particular suburb over the last 3 months
  • the history of the tooth brush
  • how trees improves air quality in urban areas
  • a brief biography of Bob Dylan
  • the main characteristics of Maine Coon cats
  • the 1945 US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • the number of, and the work of local philanthropic institutions
  • the weather over the summer months
  • the history of companion planting 
  • how to set up a new password
  • how to work a washing machine
Image: companion planting - cabbage planted alongside orange flowering calendula. Text: The history of companion planting - informative speech topic possibilities

Click this link if you'd like more informative topic suggestions.  You'll find hundreds of them.

And this link to find out more about the 4 types of informative speeches: definition, description, demonstration and explanation. (Each with an example outline and topic suggestions.)  

Image - label - 4 Informative speech example outlines: definition, description, explanation, demonstration

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Demonstration, demonstrative or 'how to' speeches

A demonstration speech is an extension of an informative process speech. It's a 'how to' speech, combining informing with demonstrating.

The topic process, (what the speech is about), could either be demonstrated live or shown using visual aids.

The goal of a demonstrative speech is to teach a complete process step by step.

It's found everywhere, all over the world: in corporate and vocational training rooms, school classrooms, university lecture theatres, homes, cafes... anywhere where people are either refreshing or updating their skills. Or learning new ones.

Knowing to how give a good demonstration or 'how to' speech is a very valuable skill to have, one appreciated by everybody.

Examples of 'how to' speech topics are:

  • how to braid long hair
  • how to change a car tire
  • how to fold table napkins
  • how to use the Heimlich maneuver
  • how to apply for a Federal grant
  • how to fill out a voting form
  • how to deal with customer complaints
  • how to close a sale
  • how to give medicine to your cat without being scratched to bits! 
Image: drawing of a very cute cat. Text: 10 minute demonstration speech topics - How to give a cat medicine without being scratched to bits.

Resources for demonstration speeches

1.How to write a demonstration speech 
Guidelines and suggestions covering:

  • choosing the best topic: one aligning with your own interests, the audience's, the setting for the speech and the time available to you

  • how to plan, prepare and deliver your speech - step by step guidelines for sequencing and organizing your material plus a printable blank demonstration speech outline for you to download and complete
  • suggestions to help with delivery and rehearsal. Demonstration speeches can so easily lurch sideways into embarrassment.

    For example: forgetting a step while demonstrating a cake recipe which means it won't turn out as you want it to.

    Or not checking you've got everything you need to deliver your speech at the venue and finding out too late, the very public and hard way, that the lead on your laptop will not reach the only available wall socket. Result. You cannot show your images.
Image: label saying 'Demonstration speech sample outline. Plus video. How to leave a good voice mail message.

2. Demonstration speech sample outline 
This is a fully completed outline of a demonstration speech. The topic is 'how to leave an effective voice mail message' and the sample covers the entire step by step sequence needed to do that.

There's a blank printable version of the outline template to download if you wish and a YouTube link to a recording of the speech.

3. Demonstration speech topics 
4 pages of 'how to' speech topic suggestions, all of them suitable for middle school and up.

Images x 3: cats, antique buttons, mannequins in a pond. Text: How to choose a pet, How to make jewelry from antique buttons, How to interpret modern art.

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Persuasive speeches

The goal of a persuasive speech is to convince an audience to accept, or at the very least listen to and consider, the speaker's point of view.

To be successful the speaker must skillfully blend information about the topic, their opinion, reasons to support it and their desired course of action, with an understanding of how best to reach their audience.

Everyday examples of persuasive speeches

Common usages of persuasive speeches are:

  • what we say when being interviewed for a job
  • presenting a sales pitch to a customer
  • political speeches - politicians lobbying for votes,
  • values or issue driven speeches e.g., a call to boycott a product on particular grounds, a call to support varying human rights issues: the right to have an abortion, the right to vote, the right to breathe clean air, the right to have access to affordable housing and, so on.

Models of the persuasive process

The most frequently cited model we have for effective persuasion is thousands of years old.  Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, 384–322 BC, explained it as being supported by three pillars: ethos, pathos and logos. 

Image: Fresco from School of Aristotle by Gustav Spangenberg. Text: 3 pillars of persuasion - ethos, logos, pathos


Briefly, ethos is the reliability and credibility of the speaker. How qualified or experienced are they talk on the topic? Are they trustworthy? Should we believe them? Why?


Pathos is the passion, emotion or feeling you, the speaker, bring to the topic. It's the choice of language you use to trigger an emotional connection linking yourself, your topic and the audience together, in a way that supports your speech purpose.

(We see the echo of Pathos in words like empathy: the ability to understand and share the feels of another, or pathetic: to arouse feelings of pity through being vulnerable and sad.)


Logos is related to logic. Is the information we are being presented logical and rational? Is it verifiable? How is it supported? By studies, by articles, by endorsement from suitably qualified and recognized people?

To successfully persuade all three are needed. For more please see this excellent article: Ethos, Pathos, Logos: 3 Pillars of Public Speaking and Persuasion 

Monroe's Motivated Sequence of persuasion

Another much more recent model is Monroe's Motivated Sequence based on the psychology of persuasion.

Image: a flow chart of the 5 steps of Monroes Motivated Sequence of persuasion.

It consists of five consecutive steps: attention, need, satisfaction, visualization and action and was developed in the 1930s by American Alan H Monroe, a lecturer in communications at Purdue University. The pattern is used extensively in advertising, social welfare and health campaigns.

Resources for persuasive speeches

1. How to write a persuasive speech
Step by step guidelines covering:

  • speech topic selection
  • setting speech goals
  • audience analysis
  • empathy and evidence
  • balance and obstacles
  • 4 structural patterns to choose from

2. A persuasive speech sample outline using Monroe's Motivated Sequence

3. An example persuasive speech written using Monroe's Motivated Sequence  

4. Persuasive speech topics: 1032+ topic suggestions which includes 105 fun persuasive ideas, like the one below.☺ 

Image: a plate with the remains of a piece of chocolate cake. Text: Having your cake and eating it too is fair.

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Special occasion or entertaining speeches

The range of these speeches is vast: from a call 'to say a few words' to delivering a lengthy formal address.

This is the territory where speeches to mark farewells, thanksgiving, awards, birthdays, Christmas, weddings, engagements and anniversaries dwell, along with welcome, introduction and thank you speeches, tributes, eulogies and commencement addresses. 

In short, any speech, either impromptu or painstakingly crafted, given to acknowledge a person, an achievement, or an event belongs here.

You'll find preparation guidelines, as well as examples of many special occasion speeches on my site.

Resources for special occasion speeches

How to prepare:

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Speech types often overlap

Because speakers and their speeches are unique, (different content, purposes, and audiences...), the four types often overlap. While a speech is generally based on one principal type it might also have a few of the features belonging to any of the others. 

For example, a speech may be mainly informative but to add interest, the speaker has used elements like a demonstration of some sort, persuasive language and the brand of familiar humor common in a special occasion speech where everybody knows each other well.

The result is an informative 'plus' type of speech. A hybrid! It's a speech that could easily be given by a long serving in-house company trainer to introduce and explain a new work process to employees.  

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Related pages:

And for those who would like their speeches written for them:

Image: woman sitting at a writing desk circa 19th century. Text: Speech writer - a ghost writer who writes someone one's speech for them

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