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Speaking to Inform
Home Up Speaking to Inform Communication Affects on Life The Process of Communication Listening One-to-One Communication Group Discussions Building Confidence Preparing Your Speech Delivering Your Speech


Occasionally a speech may be given to inspire, to entertain to introduce someone else, to accept an honor given, or to eulogize a person.  Most speeches, however, are given for one of two basic reasons:  to inform or to persuade. 

When you give a speech to inform, your basic purpose is to provide listeners with information they do not already have.  Even though the audience may have some general knowledge of your topic before you begin, an informative speech will impart new knowledge or more in-depth information on that topic.

Speeches given to inform serve many useful functions in everyday life.  Reports at business meetings, classroom lessons and demonstrations, report to labor unions, tours through state and national parks, speeches given a civic clubs--all are examples  of informative speeches.

Notice that a speech is considered informative whenever the speaker's primary purpose is to impart or give new knowledge.  In some cases a speaker may have a mixed motive.  Along with imparting new information, the speaker may wish to persuade listeners by influencing their beliefs, attitudes or behavior.  Teachers, for example, often speak with such mixed motives.  along with showing you how to work with decimals, a math teacher might wish to persuade you of the importance of knowing how to work with decimals.  Since the teacher's main purpose in speaking is to impart new knowledge, however, you would call this math lesson an example of informative rather than persuasive speaking.

Types of Informative Speeches
1) Speeches About Objects: 
Speeches about objects deal with anything you can see, feel, hear, taste, or smell.  These speeches deal with particular items in our physical world.  As use here, the term "objects" includes persons living or dead, animals, places, plants, and structure.  Here are several general topics you could use for a speech about objects:  space travel; Statue of Liberty; dinosaurs; the human brain; Venus' flytrap; chestnut trees;  Albert Einstein; computers; Hamlet; Bill Clinton; guitars; Monticello.

In order to focus on your specific informative purpose, you next need to select a particular aspect of your topic and state it in a purpose sentence.  Here are a few examples:

  • My purpose is to inform my audience what to look for when buying a home computer.
  • My purpose is to inform my audience of the major accomplishments of the Clinton presidency.