Effective Public Speaking
Effective Public Speaking

Effective Public Speaking

Lead Author(s): George Griffin and Contributors

Student Price: $63.00

Designed to teach the skills and build the confidence your students need to become effective public speakers.

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Key features in this textbook

Effective Public Speaking gives students the confidence and competence in preparing and presenting speeches with real student videos, a comprehensive glossary, up to five in-class activities per chapter, and a full chapter on controlling speech anxiety.
Using Bongo for Top Hat, students can practice their oral communication skills and get feedback from instructors or their peers.
Built-in assessment questions embedded throughout chapters so students can read a little, do a little, and test themselves to see what they know!

Comparison of Public Speaking Textbooks

Consider adding Top Hat’s Effective Public Speaking textbook to your upcoming course. We’ve put together a textbook comparison to make it easy for you in your upcoming evaluation.

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

$63

Accessible on any device for lifetime access

$121.80

Hardcover print text only

$99.29

Hardcover print text only

$114.52

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Content meets standard for Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology course, and is updated with the latest content

In-Book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

$63

Accessible on any device for life

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

$121.80

Hardcover print text only

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

$99.29

Hardcover print text only

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

$114.52

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

In-book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

About this textbook

Lead Authors

George Griffin, Professor of SpeechKeiser University

George Griffin earned his degrees at the University of West Florida and Auburn University. He has been teaching college, business seminars and workshops for over 30 years, while still doing public speaking engagements for non-profit organizations. Currently, he is serving as the Professor of Speech at Keiser University, Orlando, and as Adjunct Professor at Stetson University. George is also the author of “STAGE FRIGHT! A Student-Friendly Guide to Managing the Jitters.”

Contributing Authors

Wade CorneliusNew Mexico State University

Kathryn DederichsUniversity of St. Thomas

Morgan GintherInstructional Designer at Texas A & M

Luke GreenSt. Cloud Technical and Community College

María Elena BermúdezGeorgia State University

Daryle NaganoEl Camino College

Wendy YarberryFlorida State College at Jacksonville

Allen DavisIndiana University

Jasmine RobertsOhio State University

Krista MacDonaldDoña Ana Community College

Explore this textbook

Read the fully unlocked textbook below, and if you’re interested in learning more, get in touch to see how you can use this textbook in your course today.

Chapter 9: Writing Informative Speeches

A lithograph of the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture from 1856 hosted by chemist Michael Faraday. Created by Faraday, this famous lecture series has been held each year since 1825, and still goes on in London today. Each year, a new speech is given to present a particular scientific concept to the general public in an informative manner. [1]
“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then
to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your
audience.” 
– Alexander Gregg

Table of Contents

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Understand the purpose of an informative speech.
  • Identify the differences between informative and persuasive speeches.
  • Identify the different types of informative topics.
  • Utilize the ways to appeal to an audience.
  • Apply the general guidelines for informative speeches.

Introduction

Make sure you understand the difference between types of speeches. [2]​

Josie sat down to write out the informative speech she had been assigned in her speech class. She felt she could connect well with her audience through a speech on puppy mills. She works at an animal rescue shelter and has very strong opinions about how puppies are treated, and wants to make a difference. So she started to write her speech on why puppy mills are bad. As she continued, Josie realized that she had started writing a persuasive speech instead of an informative speech. After speaking to her professor, she decides to simply inform the class on what a puppy mill is, help the audience understand how it operates, and the process puppies go through before being sold. That way she can set up a good foundation of knowledge for her persuasive speech if she chooses to speak on the same subject later in the course.

Learning to recognize the differences between persuasive and informative speeches is a common problem for students when preparing their informative speeches. In this chapter, you will learn about the different types of informative speeches, how to keep your audience’s interest, and we will wrap up with general guidelines to help you deliver a successful informative speech.

Q9.01

Explain in your own words the difference between an informative speech and a persuasive speech.


Types of Informative Speeches

Informative speeches simply inform the audience of a topic. You just give them information; you do not attempt to sway the audience. We will break down possible informative categories and topics by examining five different types of informative speeches, and will give examples for each type. By finding out how to categorize your topic from the areas below, you will be able to organize your speech (as discussed in Chapter 5) and pick which organizational pattern will work best.

1. People: With over 7 billion people in this world, there are plenty of people to chose from who would make interesting speech topics. Real people, whether current or historical, superheroes, characters  in a movie or television show – all of these qualify for a speech on a person. Narrowing the topic further, what aspect of the person’s life would you like to highlight or explain for your audience? Here are some examples of people you could choose for a speech topic:

peytonmanning.jpg
People, whether real, fictional, famous, or not, all are legitimate subjects for informative speeches. [3]​
  • Peyton Manning
  • Barack Obama
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Donald Trump
  • Tom Hanks

The topics/people noted above are well known, but you can also pick someone who is an unsung historical hero, or who is prominent in your community or area. Someone who has influenced you personally would also work.

For a speech about a person, two different types of organizational patterns work best: topical or chronological. If you are starting with the person’s early years and progressing through their life to the current day (or until their death), chronological organization will work best. A word of caution here – be careful not to list someone’s career accomplishments as if you are reading a list of bullet points. Remember to stick to the main point/sub-point format you learned in the previous chapter. If you are talking about someone like Steve Jobs and you want to talk about his major accomplishments in order of importance in his career, you can use the topical organizational pattern.

The following video is a good example of a student starting up a speech about Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Click here to see the script for Video 9.01.

Q9.02

Think of two informative “people” speech topics.


2. Concepts or Ideas:  A speech about a concept or idea is more difficult because you cannot physically show an idea to the audience; you need to paint a mental picture for your audience while speaking. An idea or concept speech will be dealing with an intangible topic, such as a belief, a theory, or a principle, which can be quite challenging to describe effectively. Here are some examples of speech topics about concepts or ideas:

  • Democracy
  • Evolution
  • A religion (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism)
  • National health care
  • Self-fulfilling Prophecy
The most important thing in a concept or idea speech is that you make an intangible concept tangible. [4]

When choosing a concept or idea for your speech, the best organizational pattern to use is topical – what are the main aspects of the topic you want your audience to understand? A speech about a specific religion might include a main point about the history of the religion, a second main point about the countries where the religion is most prominent, and a third main point about the actual beliefs and practices. You could choose to order your speech by complexity, starting with the most difficult part of your idea or concept and working towards the more simple aspects. On the other hand, you can start with the more simple parts and work your way to more complex aspects. Allow the speech topic to guide the order of the main points in your speech.


Q9.03

What are some new concepts or ideas that students could use as a topic?


A word of caution about informative speeches on concepts or ideas – if you choose a concept or principle that you believe in strongly, you might be tempted to turn the speech into a persuasive speech rather than an informative one, as shown in Josie’s story at the beginning of this chapter. However, if you can present the concept or idea objectively, it can make a great speech.

Q9.04

While the goal of an informative speech is to provide information on a particular topic, to what extent is a purely informative speech also persuasive? In other words, do you agree or disagree with the following statement:

Given that our opinions are formed from our comprehension of a particular topic, providing information is a method of persuasion in and of itself. The decision to provide (or to withhold) certain information leads to a persuasive speech


The following video shows a student setting up a speech about the concept. 


Click here to see the script for Video 9.02.

3. Events: An event is basically anything that has ever happened, is currently happening, or is scheduled to happen in the future. Whether you are informing the audience about the first Olympic Games, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the Broadway musical Hamilton, or a community bake sale, each of these topics would qualify for an informative speech about an event. If you choose to give a speech about an event, you can talk about something global, such as the Olympics mentioned above, or an event that is happening in your community and inform the audience about it. As long as you talk about the meaning of an event, what its history is, who founded it and when and where it is being held, you will have covered all the bases for this speech type. Here are some examples of event speech topics:

Events of any sort are valid topics for event speeches. [5]


  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding 
  • The World Cup
  • A city fundraiser
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Valentine’s Day
  • The Summer Olympics




For an event speech, there are four organizational patterns you can use: chronological, topical, spatial or causal. If you are going to talk about the history of an event and how it came about, the chronological pattern works best. If you are talking about a parade and the route, the spatial pattern will work best. If the specific order of the main points is not critical, you can choose a topical order for your speech. Finally, explaining why an event happened would lead you to use the causal pattern. For example, an informative speech about the Civil War could be done chronologically, spatially, or topically effectively, but a causal pattern exploring what led America into that war might be the most interesting approach of all.


Q9.05

Match up each of the following event speeches with the best organizational pattern.

Premise
Response
1

The history of a county fair

A

Spatial

2

How the Big Bang created Earth

B

Topical

3

How the food trucks line up on Michigan Avenue on the 4th of July

C

Chronological

4

Student Body Bake Sale

D

Cause/Effect



Click here to see the script for Video 9.03.

4. Objects: An object is anything you can physically see or touch. We are surrounded by objects you could give a speech on such as an iPhone, a clock, or a car. But don’t limit yourself to small objects – anything that is tangible and visible would qualify. Even the island of Jamaica could be considered an object.

Some objects can be brought in and shown during your speech, such as a baseball bat. Others, like a car, or the Seattle Space Needle, can be shown in a picture or a PowerPoint/Prezi. In a speech about an object you want to describe it to the audience and explain what it is used for. Here are some examples of object speech topics:

If the object of your speech cannot be brought to class, be sure to include an image in you powerpoint. [6]




  • Egyptian Pyramids
  • Lululemon yoga pants
  • The Golden Gate Bridge
  • The Eye of London
  • A metal detector
  • Saturn
  • The human brain







Speeches on objects can use three types of organizational patterns: chronological, spatial or topical. If you are giving a speech on an electronic device and you are going through the different versions or upgrades, chronological order will work best. If you are speaking about famous Ferris Wheels in America and want to start on the West Coast and work your way east, spatial order would work best. Finally, if the order of your points doesn’t matter, you can order your main points topically. In the following video example, you will see a student talking about a new alarm clock. It is a great example of giving a speech on an object.


Click here to see the script for Video 9.04.

5. Processes: With so many new ways of transmitting information such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Youtube, we are learning how to do things at a faster pace. Think about when you scroll through your Facebook or Pinterest account – how many videos are there on how to make a quick dinner, or interesting ways that you can reuse a wine bottle? These are all processes, and you can give a speech to your class about any of these topics. So a process speech explains how to do something, how a process works, or how something is made.

It is important to understand that there are two different types of process speeches you can give. The first is a demonstrative speech, sometimes referred to as a performance process speech, where you show how to make something. In other words, you are teaching how to perform the process. An example of this would be a speech on how to properly tape a hockey stick. You can bring in a hockey stick and tape it as you tell the class about the process. These types of speeches are effective because the audience can actually see the steps while they are being explained.


Q9.06

Create a list of five demonstrative speech topics that your class would find unique. Be creative and think outside the box using your audience analysis information to help as well!


The second type of process speech is explaining a process without the demonstration, or a knowledge process speech. In a knowledge process speech, you would explain a process that you cannot replicate in class. An example of this type of speech would be a speech explaining the process of a jury selection. Obviously, you cannot demonstrate this process in person, but by going through the process verbally, it can easily be explained. Here are some examples of process speech topics:

  • How to make a rain garden
  • How a bill becomes a law
  • How black holes are formed
  • How to change a tire during a NASCAR race
  • How to throw a baseball
Process speeches use a chronological organization pattern to walk the listeners through (as the name indicates) a process, whether it be changing a race car tire or how to make cookies. [7]

A process speech uses a chronological organizational pattern. Since a process must happen in a certain order, this is the only type of organizational pattern that would work for a process speech. Whether you are giving a speech on how to make your “world-famous” chocolate chip cookies or how black holes are formed in space, you need to follow a specific order. Therefore, the chronological order is the only logical option for this type of speech.


Click here to see the script for Video 9.05.


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Q9.07

Match these speech topics with their informative speech category.

Premise
Response
1

Process

A

Bluetooth devices

2

Objects

B

How to bake chocolate chip cookies

3

Events

C

Franklin D. Roosevelt

4

Ideas/Concepts

D

The Super Bowl

5

People

E

Natural selection


Keeping Your Audience’s Interest

A major factor in giving an informative speech will be keeping the attention of your audience. If you think back to a time when you were listening to a speaker, were you interested? Did they keep your attention? Have you forgotten everything they said? Hopefully you answered “yes” to the first two questions and “no” to the final one. In Chapter 7 we learned how to analyze your audience in advance. After you complete that process, the next step is audience adaptation where keeping your audience’s attention becomes vital.


Q9.08

A great way to keep your audience’s interest in your speech is to play loud music in the background.

A

True

B

False


In this section of the chapter, we are going to give you a couple of suggestions on how to keep your audience interested in the information. Delivery will have a big impact on this as well, so refer to Chapter 11 for further information on how effective delivery can maintain and increase your audience’s attention.

Being Clear 

Think back to a time when you were listening to someone talk and you didn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe you were preoccupied with something personal, maybe there was background noise, or maybe the person just wasn’t making things clear. You want to make sure that as you speak, your audience can follow what you are saying and understand your point. If they don’t understand what you are saying, they will tune out and miss your message entirely. So here are four suggestions for being clear.

1. Remember to clearly state the purpose of your speech in the introduction. If you miss this crucial part of an introduction, (see Chapter 4 for further information) your audience will have a vague idea of your topic, but they will miss your underlying purpose. As an instructor, I have listened to many speeches where the presenter forgot to clearly state their purpose statement. Subsequently, throughout the entire speech, I couldn’t latch on to what they were saying because I didn’t know what the student was trying to accomplish with their speech. So, double check your purpose statement to make sure it is clear and concise.


Q9.09

Create a vague purpose statement, like: “I want to inform you on the Bahamas.” Then create three specific purpose statements that are clear and concise.


2. Pick a specific organizational pattern. We covered these in Chapter 5 and at the beginning of this chapter. In the explanation of each type of informative speech, organizational patterns are recommended. You can also refer to the table above that pairs the organizational pattern with the type of speech you are giving. If you have an easily understood organizational pattern, your audience will be able to follow your thoughts easily.

Make sure the tone and vocabulary of your speech is appropriate to your audience. [8]

3. Talk to the level of your audience. If you are talking to a group of children, use simple words and explain things slowly. If you are talking to a college class where everyone is studying something different and your speech is on a highly technical process, you should avoid jargon or technical words for a specific group of people. Using words the audience doesn’t know is called exclusive language. You want to use inclusive language, to “include” the audience in your message. You’ll learn more about inclusive language in Chapter 14. Remember, not everyone has the same knowledge base, so what might be simple for you to explain, may be new and different to your audience.

4. Use presentational aids so your audience can see what you’re talking about. Chapter 13 covers all the different ways to use technology and visual aids to help you maintain audience interest and aid their understanding. Presentation aids, such as PowerPoint, Prezi, video clips, audio sound bites, or even an old-fashioned poster, can capture an audience’s attention more than words alone.


Q9.10

For the following speech topics, think of the best type of presentational aid to keep your audience’s interest: ● The Scottish Highlands ● Service dog training ● How to change a bike tire ● The financial aid process ● Lincoln’s presidency


Click here to see the script for Video 9.06.

Appeal to Different Learning Styles

Everyone has a different way of learning. Some people can listen to someone and pick up all the information, some need to see something, and others need to have a hands-on experience. There are three major types of learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory and visual. By looking at all three of these learning styles and incorporating them into your presentation, you can help maintain your audience’s interest throughout your speech. Let’s take a look at these three types to gain a full understanding of each type.

  • Kinesthetic learners retain information best if they are moving while they are learning, or get hands-on experience. For example, if you are giving a speech on how to tie different types of knots for sailing, a kinesthetic learner would learn best by having a piece of rope in their hands while they are listening to your speech so they can follow along and actually tie the knot.
  • Auditory learners learn best and retain information if they listen to what you are saying. Looking at the same example, if you were giving a speech on how to tie different knots for sailing, an auditory listener would listen to your explanation of how to tie a knot and be able to replicate the knot based solely on what you said. No visual aids are necessary for this type of learner.
  • Visual learners will learn best by looking at something, but not necessarily touching it like a kinesthetic learner. So back to the knots, a visual learner would watch you tie a knot while you are explaining it, and not need to have the rope in hand, but be able to tie the knot based on watching you do it.

As you can see, depending on what type of learners are in your audience, each style has an advantage for keeping your audience interested. A great presentation would incorporate at least one aspect of all three elements.

See if you can tell which of the three learning styles the following student exhibits in the video below!

How will you know what type of learners are in your audience? If there is time, you can ask your instructor if you can hand out a brief survey to your audience to see what type of learners are present and then tailor your speech to the majority of learners.


Click here to see the script for Video 9.07.

To access a good learning styles assessment, please click here.


Q9.11

If you are giving a speech on how to safely check a player in hockey, how would you appeal to Kinesthetic learners? Auditory learners? Visual learners? What type of learning style would appeal most to your audience? How will you tailor your speech to fit these types of learning styles?


Directly Relate Your Topic to Your Audience

Relating your topic to your audience is necessary to keep their attention. If a topic doesn’t relate to the audience, no one is going to listen. Imagine a student giving a speech to a college class on how to get into college. What do you think would be the first thing that would go through each person’s mind? Perhaps it would be, “Why would I care about this, I am already in college?” Exactly! As soon as they figured out that the topic doesn’t relate to them, they would tune out.

Click here to see the script for Video 9.08.

So the first step in relating to your audience is to pick a topic that is relevant to them. For instance, if you are speaking to a group of high school seniors, the topic of how to get into college would relate to them perfectly.

The suggestions mentioned in the Being Clear section – as well as the use of common language instead of jargon and appealing to the different learning styles  will all help in relating directly to your audience.

These are not the only ways to grab your audience’s attention, of course. Try anything that you believe will work best with your audience, and be creative. Speakers who bring life to their presentations can be captivating!

General Informative Speaking Guidelines

To wrap up the chapter we want to leave you with some guidelines to follow in preparing your informative speech. Each of the following eight suggestions will help you to create an informative speech that will appeal to your audience, retain their attention, and be successful for you.

  • Be accurate
  • Avoid information overload
  • Use plenty of examples, illustrations, and analogies
  • Use repetition and restatement
  • Don’t get too technical
  • Personalize
  • Educate, don’t advocate
  • “Don’t overestimate your audience’s knowledge, but don’t underestimate their intelligence”


1. Be Accurate

Nothing will cause your audience to stop listening quicker than giving bad or incorrect information, so be sure you use information that it is current and accurate. I once heard a speech where the speaker stated the world’s population from a source that was more than five years old and outdated. Several people in the audience gave confused looks and then tuned out because they figured the rest of the speech would be inaccurate as well. Don’t just trust your memory or personal experience: do your research to verify every detail you present.


Q9.12

Wikipedia is an excellent source to get information for your informative speech.

A

True

B

False

                                                            

2. Avoid Information Overload

Now that you’ve learned how to narrow your topic to provide your audience with specific information, you need to do the same with the main ideas and supporting details you share. If you are giving your speech on how to spend less money at the grocery store, and you have eight places the audience can check out to find good coupons, pick only the top two or three, and tell the audience if they want further information to talk to you at the end of your speech. That way you don’t overload your audience with too much information and you save precious speech time.

3. Use Plenty of Examples, Illustrations and Analogies

There are three different ways to “paint a picture” for your audience as you inform them on your topic.

  • Examples are people or things that are representative of a group or type, such as, ‘Tony Robbins is an example of a motivational speaker,’ or ‘Black Sabbath is an example of classic heavy metal music.’
  • Illustrations Illustrations are more detailed examples that give the audience a more complete and clearer understanding, such as ‘Motivational speaker Tony Robbins often encourages people to walk across hot coals to gain inner confidence.
  • Analogies compare two things that are similar in some way. If you are giving a speech on an idea or something abstract, an analogy can help the audience understand the concept more easily. For example, if you are giving a speech on positive thinking, you can compare positive thinking to weight lifting for your brain. That way the audience can see how positive thinking can strengthen both the mind and actions.


Q9.13

If you are trying to relate your topic to your audience you would use _____ within your speech.

A

Analogy

B

Illustration

C

Example

D

Nothing


4. Repetition and Restatement

As mentioned in Chapter 4, a speech “tells them what you’re going tell them, then actually tells them, and then tells them what you told them”. Repeating yourself helps the audience retain the information you are presenting. You need to repeat information you want to retain at least seven times in order to remember it. Since it would make your speech boring if you repeated the same thing seven times, you need to use other strategies to repeat the information without the audience recognizing it. Reword the information, demonstrate it with visual aids, or do both to help the audience retain your essential ideas.


Q9.14

Think of a couple of ways that you can repeat information in your speech without saying the exact same words again. What are they? How can you work those into your speech effectively?


5. Don’t Get Too Technical

American Engineer and physicist Robert Goddard in 1924. Goddard gave a talk about his theory that rockets could be sent to the moon, only to be heavily criticized by his peers, earning him the nickname "Moon Man" [9]​

Each person is an expert on something, and if a person is an expert on the topic they are presenting they will have a lot of information and experience. That could mean using technical terms that confuse audience members. If a speaker is talking about the latest version of some computer software, and every other word is a computer term, the audience will not be able to follow the explanation and will lose interest quickly, unless they are experts too.                                                                 

6. Personalize

Let's say that a friend of yours has Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and you want to do your informative speech on the disease. Don’t just tell the audience how MS can affect people physically, tell them about how your friend had to adapt to a wheelchair. Bring in a picture of them, or use their own words within the speech. Audience members will listen more intently if you are sharing something personal with them, as opposed to just giving book information from your research and not explaining how the topic relates to you. As you will see in the next chapter on persuasion, this would be considered a “pathos” appeal, or an appeal to emotion. A good speech appeals to the heart as well as the head. Personalizing information allows the audience a chance to be informed and see the human side of the topic as well.

Click here to see the script for Video 9.09.

7. Educate, Don’t Advocate

At the beginning of the chapter, the illustration about Josie’s speech on puppy mills highlighted the difference between informative and persuasive speaking. This is a fine line, so avoid crossing it into persuasion! The purpose of an informative speech is to educate the audience on your topic, not to change their attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. 

​It may be very difficult to effectively inform an audience about a controversial topic while maintaining your own objectivity. For example, the theory of Intelligent Design is defined by Merriam Webster as “the theory that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by a designing intelligence.” Yet for nearly 30 years, there has been a running controversy as to whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in school science classes as an alternative theory to Darwinian Evolution. It would be hard to explain the intricacies of the theory without taking a position on the controversial aspects.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion in the country of football players “taking a knee” during the National Anthem as a form of protest. The story of how this protest began and how it took on a life of its own would make a fascinating informative speech – starting with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, other players joining in on the protest, the denouncement from President Trump, the walk-out from an NFL game by Vice President Pence, the backlash of the protest on both sides – but ask yourself honestly, could you thoroughly inform your audience on this topic without taking sides? If so, great! If not, avoid it as an informative speech!

Persuasive speaking is discussed further in Chapters 10 and 12 of our textbook to help you further distinguish the differences between these two types of speeches. If you are giving a speech on recycling, you can define recycling, tell the audience how to recycle, and even what the proven benefits of recycling are. But you shouldn’t try to get the audience to commit to recycling. Quite often students end up adding a section to an informative speech that is persuasive and their grade can end up suffering as a result because that is not the purpose of the speech. The most common place where students make this mistake is in the conclusion – did you end your speech with an appeal or an invitation to the audience to do something? If so, you have probably crossed the line.

8. “Don’t Overestimate Your Audience’s Knowledge, but Don’t Underestimate Their Intelligence”

This quote explains how you should walk the line of assessing an audience’s knowledge of the topic you have chosen. You want to speak to them at their intelligence level, but you don’t want to assume that they understand the topic as intimately as you do. If you prepare a speech on an author and you have read all the books the author has written, you will know the storylines, history and characters far better than anyone who hasn’t. So you need to start out simple and explain the genre of the author and some of their storylines. Keeping it simple and informative, rather than trying to explain what happened in all of the books, you are able to write the speech from the audience’s perspective and knowledge level, while still being informative. You may safely assume, for example, that everyone in your audience has heard of Harry Potter. But that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what a “muggle” is!

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Conclusion

Now that you’ve reached the end of the chapter, we hope you’ve gained an understanding of the types of informative speeches you can choose from. You should now also understand several different ways to keep your audience’s attention throughout your speech. And finally, having reviewed the guidelines to create a successful informative speech, you have all the tools to sit down and create a wonderful speech to deliver to your audience!

End of Chapter Checklist

After reading this chapter, you should be able to say to yourself: 

  • I understand the purpose of an informative speech.
  • I can identify the differences between informative and persuasive speeches.
  • I can identify the different types of informative topics.
  • I can utilize the ways to appeal to an audience.
  • I know how to apply the general guidelines for informative speeches.
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Video Scripts

Video 9.01

Who do you believe is the greatest inventor of all time? Steve Jobs is a fascinating person, who overcame many obstacles to create some of the most easily used devices of the 21st Century, such as the ipod, the iphone and the ipad. In the following speech I will be discussing the creation of his company, his top selling products, and the legacy he left behind.

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Video 9.02

We talked about at the beginning of this term that everyone responds differently to adrenaline. And for some people they will experience what is called cognitive dissonance. And cognitive dissonance is your brain's way of reacting to two opposing attitudes or beliefs that don’t correspond well with each other

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Video 9.03

Think back to your childhood. If you close your eyes real tight can you remember that special day? Maybe it was a vacation with your family, a trip to the amusement park with your friends. One of Joey’s fondest memories from his childhood was going to the Minnesota State Fair. He remembers walking through the gates and being introduced to a whole new world, he saw buildings and crowds and crowds of people, he smelled foods and he smelled animals and he and he could hear music and he was like this is going to be a very fun day.

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Video 9.04

Today I am going to tell you about the wake up light by Phillips. I will go over how they work, how it can improve getting up in the morning, and how much they cost. So the Phillips wake up light uses an internal light bulb to simulate the sunrise. There are two sets of buttons here, this first set on the top adjusts the maximum brightness of the light bulb, and this middle button will turn it on if you decide to use it as a lamp. And the second set of buttons here will adjust the maximum volume of your alarm when it goes off. There is also a button to turn on the FM radio if you want to listen to that.

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Video 9.05

Who here is a thrill seeker? I know I am. But in order to be thrilled, one has to have some degree of fear. Do you agree? Today I will be giving a step by step tutorial on how to pole vault, starting with the approach, the set up, take off and landing. So ‘pole vaulting is a very complicated event. There are many things involved’ says Seirge Bubka.

So step one is pole selection. Each pole has a weight grading at the top and that determines how stiff the pole is. In competition you can’t weigh more than the weight grading, that being said, you can weigh less than it. So today we are going to imagine that I am going for an 11 foot vault. I am going to select a 12 foot pole with a weight grading of 155lbs. because I weigh 145lbs.

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Video 9.06

According to Apple.com ‘podcasts are episodes of a program available on the internet’. Podcasts are usually and original audio or video recording. They can also be recorded broadcasts of a television or radio program, a lecture, a performance or other event.

How to listen to a podcast. It is really simple, especially if you have an iphone. What you are going to do is click on podcasts app and then search for a particular podcast that interests you. Once you have found that podcast click on that episode and it will automatically start playing, it is as easy as that.

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Video 9.07

What do a dog, a camel and a rabbit all have in common? Guesses…anybody? You can hand spin the coats of all of them and turn them into yarn. Hand spinning is not a dead art, and there are actually quite a lot of things to know about it, like what kinds of fiber there are, what you can do with the fiber before spinnging, and finally actually spinning the fiber and making it into yarn.

Like I said earlier, it is not just sheep who’s coat you can spin, you can also use materials from alpacas, goats, silkworms as well as dogs camels and rabbits. Since spinning is very much a tactile I made a visual aid with a bunch of examples and I am going to pass it around for you to feel all of them, touch all of them and feel how the different fibers that come from different things all feel different.

Now just as fibers from different animals all feel different, so I have this (the PowerPoint) for people that don’t have it in front of them. All the ones that come from different animals feel different. But also you can have variety from fibers that come from the same animal. All the ones on the top row up there all come from different types of sheep, but they all have a slightly different texture. According to amtexyarn.com ‘blue face lester and marino are both varieties of sheep but blue face lester is being developed in the UK and marino developed in spain. Blue face lester is also a longer fiber that makes it easier to spin while marino is more fine and difficult to spin. 

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Video 9.08

Give man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach man to fish and he will sit on his ass and drink all day. Today I am going to discuss with you guys a few of my favorite types of fishing, I figured it would be relatable because of the thousands of lakes we have here in Minnesota. Three types of fishing are bait-casting, jigging and deep sea fishing.

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Video 9.09

The story I am going to tell is of my own seemingly paranormal experience. Now this all happened in the South Bridge Falls in Edinburgh Scotland, and what we were doing was walking around with these EMF detectors and the instructions were to walk around and look for abnormally high readings, something more than what normal electronics would be normally be giving off. That is supposed to indicate ghostly activity. So we were walking around and nothing was happening and it had been about an hour, so naturally we started to drift off and walk away from my partner. I started walking down the hallway and at the end of the hallway was this room that I later found out was called ‘The Butcher’s Room’. So I am walking around with my flashlight in my hand and I walk into this ‘Butcher’s Room’ and suddenly…BOOM…freezing cold and not just like you had stepped outside while it is really cold out, but like you had been standing outside in freezing cold for hours, chilled to the bone cold”

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Image Credits

[1] Image by Alexander Blaikley in the Public Domain.

[2] Image courtesy of frazzledjen under CC BY 2.0.

[3] Image courtesy of denverjeffrey under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[4] Image courtesy of ndanger under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[5] Image courtesy of Jimmy Baikovicius under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[6] Image courtesy of Daniel Mayer under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[7] Image courtesy of United States National Guard in the Public Domain.

[8] Image courtesy of Cpl. Jihoon Jung in the Public Domain.

[9] Image courtesy of NASA in the Public Domain.

Topical Organization Pattern
Organizing your speech by subtopics.
Chronological Organizational Pattern
Organizing your speech according to a time sequence (typically from earliest to latest).
Concept Speech
This type of speech deals with an intangible topic such as a belief, a theory, or a principle.
Spatial Organizational Pattern
Arranges ideas according to location or geography.
Process Speech
A speech that explains how to do something, how a process works, or how something is made.
Kinesthetic Learning Style
This type of learner (or listener) retains information best if they have hands-on experience.
Auditory Learning Style
This type of learner (or listener) retains information best by following what you say during the speech.
Visual Learning Style
This type of learner (or listener) retains information best by seeing
Example - noun
People or things that are representative of a group or type.
Illustration - noun
More detailed than examples, illustrations give the audience a more complete understanding or “picture” of the topic.
Analogy - noun
A comparison of two things that are similar in some way.
Personalize
The act of humanizing a topic by sharing personal information or examples.