Section 4. Types of informative speeches


There are four major types of informative speeches, each designed to convey a unique set of information to an audience. Each of the four lends itself to different topics and organizational strategies. In this section we will discuss four different informative speeches, beginning with speeches about objects. We then will cover speeches about processes, speeches about events and finally, perhaps the most difficult to construct as a speaker, speeches about concepts.

Speeches about Objects

Speeches about objects are usually the simplest form of informative speeches.

One of the most common informative speeches about an object is a speech of self-presentation, where a speakers topic is the introduction of herself or himself to the audience. Often this type of speeches is the first that a student delivers in an introductory speaking course. It is typically not long and touches upon the highlights of the speakers life. It often includes important events, individuals, and achievements by the speaker. Sometimes speeches of self- presentation cover elements of the persons philosophy and belief systems, but each speech is unique and what the speaker chooses to present tells you as much about the person as what they chose to leave out. After all, it is a personal narrative constructed by the speakers, and whether or not it means it, the story is always biased and incomplete, making this speech fascinating in its own right.

Objects can also include people other than the speaker. In speeches about other people as objects the topics the speaker chooses to cover are of the same variety as those in the self-presentation speech with the exception that they apply to others.

Another informative speech about an object involves places. The most familiar of these occur on tours.

The final topic that fits into informative speeches about objects is things. These can include something as meaningful as a memento or heirloom, or something as simple as a television or movie. Informative speeches about objects where things are the topic encompass tangible objects that do not fall in the previously discussed categories. Things are not people, nor are they places but that does not mean they are not objects.

Table 1
Thesis Examples about Objects
Speech Topic Thesis Statement Example
    The Carpathians The three primary areas of interest in Ukrainian Carpathians are the city of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk region and skiing resorts.
  Buying a used car When purchasing a used car you should consider factors such as age, quality, and price.


Speeches about Processes

Another common type of informative speech is a speech about a process.

Process speeches are delivered using a chronological organizational pattern because that is what allows the topic to make the most sense to the audience. Process speeches traditionally are reserved for delivering information about tasks an audience may need to complete. They are, for all intents and purposes, how to speeches.

Process topics can vary from the sequence of building a house, to describing the process of how wine is made and even explaining how the economy works.

The final process we will cover involves neither a job-specific task like changing oil, nor an everyday activity such as cooking; rather, these process topics relate to social processes. Common to this category of processes are political, economic, religious or cultural procedures. Such speeches might cover how to get elected, how to celebrate a Catholic Mass, or how interest-rates work. These are more complicated and deal with social processes rather than task procedures, but they are still informative speeches about processes. Because of their complexity, these types of speeches often are the most interesting process speeches to hear. If you wished to write a speech on such a process, just think of something in society that you do not know how it operates and research it.

Informative speeches about processes are excellent examples of the blurred line between informative and persuasive speaking. People hearing these speeches might be more inclined to do exactly what the speaker laid out now that they know how. That influence could be branded persuasive rather than informative, but if the speech is presented simply as a how to speech, it becomes much more of an informative address than a persuasive appeal.

Speeches about Concepts

Informative speeches about concepts focus on informing an audience about beliefs, values, or theories. These speeches do not seek to convert an audience to a particular point of view, but instead seek simply to explain a given philosophy. Informative speeches about concepts also almost exclusively employ the same organizational pattern, regardless of what concept they explicate.

One potential informative speech about a concept covers belief systems, such as a particular religion. Religions are not tangible objects, sequential processes nor fixed events, despite the fact the elements of each may play a part in the belief system. For example, in Judaism the Star of David is a prominent object, weekly service follows a specific regimen, and the conclusion of the annual reading of the Torah is a celebratory event. Each of these would make terrific topics for informative speeches about an object, process or event, but none cover the beliefs of Judaism. An informative speech about a concept that conveys information about the beliefs of Judaism would cover their notion of the afterlife, their understanding of God, or their approach to keeping kosher.

Religion is only one example of a concept, and it is grounded in a specific worldview. A different way to approach beliefs would be to cover more abstract ideas such as love, hate, affection or depression. These are concepts that each has definitions which vary from culture to culture. An informative speech about a concept would attempt to convey an understanding of any one of those emotions, but in doing so the speaker would have to acknowledge the various ways different places define those feelings.

A third type of concept covered by this type of informative speech addresses theories. Take, for example, a student, who wants to give a speech to her science class that defines the theory of evolution. She can cover who developed the theory and mention the controversy surrounding it, but the focus of her speech is to explain how evolution works. She can provide examples of how the theory proposes that large hairy mammals evolve into human beings, but again the focus is explaining the concept to the audience. Examples essentially become data and evidence, where the main points are the theoretical propositions themselves.

One final category of concepts that speakers may cover in an informative speech of this type are political or economic concepts. Like religious beliefs, political and economic belief systems may have important people, defined processes, or singular events that contributed to their development, but the focus of the speech remains describing the core facets of the system. A speech of this type on communism, for example, might mention Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as the pioneers of the philosophy, their expulsion from Germany as an event contributing to the creation of their worldview, and the explanation of the five epochs of history as a process that will eventually lead to the world adopting communism, but the focus would be on the tenets of a communist society. How is workload handled in a communist society? What is the role of money? How are leaders selected? These and other questions get at the central concept of communism, and thus would qualify the presentation as an informative speech about a concept.

Table 2
Thesis Examples about Concepts
Speech Topic Thesis Statement Example
Pillars of Islam The five pillars of Islam are the profession of faith, prayers, giving of alms, fasting during Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca.
Ethics The two major categories of ethical principles are teleological and deontological ethics.
Psychological Egoism The theory of psychological egoism states that altruism is a myth and that all acts are self-serving.
Free Market Economy A free market economic theory is based upon competition and no government intervention.


Speeches about Events

The fourth form of informative speeches, those that cover events, combines elements of both speeches about objects and speeches about processes. Events can include objects, in particular people, but they are more complex than simply detailing a singular item. They can also include a process, or the unfolding of the event, but the focus is not on explaining the process; rather it is on detailing the importance of the event itself. Your goal is to provide information to an audience; what they do with it is up to them. This illustrates yet again the subtle difference between informative and persuasive speaking.

Informative speeches about events inform audiences about occurrences in the past, present, or future. They are organized in a variety of different ways, but also contain elements common to both informative speeches about objects and informative speeches about processes. The fourth and final type of informative speech, however, is unique.

Informative speeches about events can cover things that have happened, are happening and even those that will happen. Like the Civil War example, an informative speech about an event can cover something from the past. These speeches can also cover events that occur in the moment, such as a public address by a public official during a hurricane or natural disaster. Event speeches can also discuss things that will happen, such as a speech opening a business convention that lays out the schedule, topics, and important organizational members for the ensuing meetings.

Informative speeches about events can employ several organizational patterns. Often the primary organizational pattern is chronological, but there are cases when event speeches can utilize topical and even spatial patterns.


Table 3
Thesis Examples about Events
Speech Topic Thesis Statement Example
    Weddings The major events of a wedding ceremony are the exchange of vows, the wedding toasts, the cutting of the cake, and the first dance.
    9/11 The September 11, 2001, terrorists attacks on the United States included two airplanes hitting the Twin Towers, the attack on the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.



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