Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help. – Bodhidharma
The primary goal of informative speaking is to increase listeners’ knowledge so they can better understand the world around them and can make more informed decisions. Discussing the impact a speaker can have on an audience, Perry Wilbur (2000, p. 99) explains:
Informative speaking is a crucial skill that, if developed, will help you be more successful in both your personal life and your professional career.
When constructing an informative speech, you should strive to be objective, spend time developing your credibility, demonstrate that you have done your research, and link your subject to the lives of the listeners.
There are four main types of informative speeches. Definitional speeches present the meanings of concepts, theories, philosophies, or issues. Descriptive speeches provide detailed word pictures of people, animals, places, or objects. Explanatory speeches report events, customs, transformations, inventions,, policies, outcomes or options. Demonstration speeches show listeners how some process is done or how to do it themselves.
Several techniques can be used by speakers to increase the effectiveness of their informative speech. Speakers can arouse interest by using attention getting elements, telling a story, adding creative features, and stimulating the intellect of the audience. Speakers can create coherence through logical organization, the use of simple language, and by avoiding information overload. Finally, a speaker can make a speech more memorable via repetition, appealing to different ways of learning, and by using visuals appropriately.
If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it. – Margaret Fuller
- For each of the characters described below, what types of informative speeches might each person be called upon to give in her or his personal and professional life? List as many as you can think of for each.
- Stacy is an emergency room physician and medical school professor. She also serves on the board of directors for a local college. For recreation she enjoys rock climbing.
- Rick is an animal control officer who volunteers his time at both the animal shelter and the local Habitat for Humanity group. He is in a bowling league with other city employees.
- Akiko is in insurance sales and volunteers in the math classroom at her children’s middle school. As a hobby, she collects and sells antiques.
- Early in the module, the importance of credibility was discussed. Can you think of any presentations you heard where you DID NOT feel that the speaker had credibility? What did the speakers do and/or say to make you think they lacked credibility? If you were to give these speakers advice on how to improve their credibility, what would you say?
- The chapter states that speakers need to be objective, credible, knowledgeable and that they need to make the topic relevant to the audience. Rank these responsibilities in order from most to least important, and then explain your ranking.
- Imagine you are giving an informative speech on ______________ [you fill in the blank]. How would you apply each of the five attention getting techniques—intensity, novelty, contrast, activity and humor—in your speech? Make note of at least one idea for each technique.
- After you have selected a topic for your informative speech, answer the questions below to help determine ways to orient your topic to your audience. Questions adapted from Ulloth and Alderfer, (1998b, pp. 61–62).
- How much information does your audience already have about your topic?
- What social or cultural influences of audience members might affect their reaction to your topic?
- How can your topic be made interesting if the audience has no knowledge or apparent interest in it?
- Are there any mental, physical, or emotional factors in the audience that may affect their response to your speech?
- What do you want your audience to understand after you have delivered your speech?
Answers to song lyrics question in Developing Informative Speeches:
Mystery Artist: Pink Floyd “Money” from Dark Side of the Moon
1. The list directly below includes a number of potential sources for your informative speech (Walters, 1995; Ulloth & Alderfer, 1998; Slutsky & Aun, 1997). Using this list for ideas, which of these potential sources could be used in the research process for each of the following speech topics?
|Tattoos||Action figure collecting||Free local activities|
|Making great BBQ||Music piracy||Auctions|
|Bruce Lee||Decorating on a budget||Creating a web site|
Source of Interesting Materials
2. Use the list of potential informative speech topics below to complete the steps of this activity.
- Which of the topics listed below might also be used for a persuasive speech?
- For each of the four different types of informative speeches (Definitional, Descriptive, Explanatory, Demonstration), identify three topics that would be appropriate to use for each type of speech.
- At this point, you should have twelve topics listed—three each under each type of speech. Now, take one topic from each of the four groups and generate a specific purpose statement and three potential main points. You will have four different speeches, each with their own specific purpose and main points.
Potential Speech Topics