Objectives of an Informative Speech

Learning Objectives

Explain the objectives of an informative speech.

Usually when speakers speak to an audience, they have a goal or objective in mind. Think of the goal or objective as what a speaker wants their audience to know, to believe, to feel, or to be able to do after listening to a speech.

A young woman standing in front of a projected still from a video game, talking

Explaining a piece of software is an example of informative speaking.

For example, if you are giving a toast at a wedding, your objective is to praise or celebrate the couple getting married. If you are running for a political office and speaking in front of a group of voters, your goal is to convince the audience that you are the best candidate for the office. If you are a software trainer, your objective is to explain to your audience how to use a new type of software.

Of the three examples above, only the last one would be considered an informative speech because the primary objective of an informative speech is to help an audience know more or gain a deeper understanding about a topic.

A lecture given by a teacher in a high school or college class is an example of an informative speech. A manager in a retail store giving a presentation to her staff about how to explain a new product line to customers would also be an example of an informative speech.

To Watch: Julian treasure

In this speech, sound and communication expert Julian Treasure outlines “The Four Ways Sound Affects Us.” From the title alone, it may be obvious that Treasure’s speech is primarily intended to be informative. The audience is supposed to come away with new knowledge about something: in this case, how sound affects us.

You can view the transcript for “Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us” here (opens in new window).

What to watch for:

As we might expect, Treasure weaves sound into his speech extremely cleverly. His demonstrations of relaxing versus annoying sounds, for instance, illustrate his points far more effectively than simply stating his argument outright. Demonstrations, which allow the audience to experience directly the effect you’re talking about, can be a great way to make your informative speech compelling and memorable.

Even if you have never delivered a formal informative speech, you have likely given informative presentations to other people. Some objectives for giving an informative presentation might be explaining, teaching, or describing. To illustrate, think about a time when you were asked to explain a concept or idea, describe an event, explain how a process works, or teach someone to do something. In each of those cases, you were providing information to an audience.

In order to accomplish these objectives, when we develop and deliver an informative speech, we want to make sure the information we are presenting is:

  • communicated accurately,
  • communicated clearly using language our audience will understand, and
  • communicated in such a way that our audience understands why the information we are presenting them is relevant and meaningful.
A woman shouting into a megaphone.

An informative speech is not trying to persuade the listeners to change their thinking or behavior. (That would be a persuasive speech.)

There is one objective we are not trying to achieve when we give an informative speech: persuasion. When we speak to inform, we are trying to help our audience better understand the topic we are speaking about, but we are not advocating that our audience change their beliefs or their behaviors. When a speaker tries to convince someone to change a belief or motivate them to take a particular action, they are engaged in persuasive rather than informative speaking.

We’ll cover persuasive speaking elsewhere in the course, so for now let’s focus on how to convey knowledge and understanding to an audience rather than think about how to convince or persuade them.

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