The Types of Public Speaking

How many types of public speaking are you experienced using?

Public speaking is the art, act and skill of using the gift of speech to address a group of people in a structured manner with the purpose of informing, influencing, or entertaining the listeners.

There are many types of public speaking to accomplish this. If you know the type of speaking best suited to your audience you will be better able to serve them and provide for their needs.

The most common form of public speaking is rhetoric.

Rhetoric is the art of using spoken words to persuade. There are two schools of thought on what rhetoric is. Classical rhetoric which is persuasive speaking and contemporary rhetoric.

Rhetoric is most often seen in public arenas like politics, law, public relations, lobbying, marketing and advertising, assemblies and courts of law.

Contemporary rhetoric has a more diverse definition than in the original from ancient times. It now includes areas of study including humanities, religion, social sciences, law, science, journalism, history, literature and architecture. The human experience is among other ways captured by words. The communication of life and thought requires articulation and communication which is rhetoric.

Persuasive Public Speaking

The art of persuasion has developed into a unique field of public speaking. Traditional persuasion uses a set of techniques that when employed skillfully, will allow the speaker to move the audience to adopt a new thought, idea, concept, or way of doing things.

Within this modality of speaking are those who have elevated the art by returning to the roots of rhetorical speaking. This happens by using questions to develop a social dialog with the audience, applying the skillful use of rhetorical questions.

To advance your study in this field, study copy writing and headline writing.

This is my favorite type of public speaking.

Informative Public Speaking

The goal is to inform the audience of the information that is being presented. It requires a context that will allow the audience to take in the information and make it usable.

Demonstrative Public Speaking

Like informative, demonstrative speaking attempts to demonstrate how to do something. It is easier to remember how to do something when we actually see it being done. So this kind of speaking may have or be a part of a demonstration. If you have ever seen a knife salesman in the mall and watched him slice a tomato paper thin, then you have seen demonstrative public speaking.

Motivational Public Speaking

A motivational public speaker uses stories, anecdotes, illustrations, and allegories to engage the audience and share with the audience a lesson or moral that will uplift, inspire and or have an impact on those who listen. The goal usually relates to self improvement and the speaker provides a story that will allow the mind to form a mental attachment to so that as a member of the audience you will think, I can do that.

Because of the diversity of audiences, religious motivational speeches will be less effective unless given in a religious context. They could offend some.

This is perhaps the most popular type of public speaking.


Debate is the verbal sparing and comes in several forms. Although not the focus of this site, the principles found on this site will enhance the ability to win a debate. Some of the types are...

  • Parliamentary debate
  • Australasia debate
  • Policy debate
  • Classical debate
  • Extemporaneous debate
  • Lincoln-Douglas debate
  • Simulated legislature
  • Impromptu Debate
  • Moot court and mock trial
  • Public Forum debate
  • U.S. presidential debates


Public speaking when in the competitive environment (North America) is also known as forensics (an adjective meaning "of public debate or argument").

Forensics, from the Latin forensics, meaning "of the forum." The sense of the word "forensic" that means "pertaining to legal trials" dates from the 1600s (Oxford English Dictionary) and has resulted in the use of the word "forensics" in reference to legal evidence. High school and college public speaking competition is often referred to as forensics.

Other Types of Public Speaking

Seminar Speaking

Work Shop

The speakers in the above types of public speaking can use several methods to convey their information. Some of these methods include...





While speaking the presenter can include...

Audience Participation

Questions and Answers

Audience Discussion

Add to these...

Poetry Reading

Literature Reading

News casting

Radio Announcer

Ceremonial Speaking includes things like...

Are there other types of public speaking we missed? Let us know. The Types of Public Speaking Website

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