informative speaking

Informative Speaking

Informative speaking generally centers on talking about people, events, processes, places, or things. Informing an audience about one of these subjects without being persuasive is often a difficult task to complete. The line walked during an informative speech, as opposed to a persuasive speech, is to not make persuasion an explicit and obvious goal. The informative speech might cover both advantages and disadvantages of a topic, whereas a persuasive speech would take a firm position on a given issue.

How to approach Informative Speaking?

The Audience

Analyze the audience. This is complicated because the speaking situations, forums and topics will be diverse. You want to know, who is the audience? Why are they coming to hear the speech? With this information, one can determine how best to present the information. If talking to a field of medical professionals about cloning, they likely know the basics of DNA. An audience of lay people might not be so fluent in the language of biomedical engineering, and so basic concepts like this will have to be explained. Never presume that an audience has a thorough background in the subject. But then again, never assume that they don't. This is why knowing the audience is crucial. However, it depends on the circumstances of the speech.


Use appropriate language. What are the norms for speaking style for the audience? The audience will determine that. With the previous example, you don't want to avoid using technical and necessary terms with people who have knowledge about the subject. On the other hand, if you were to give a talk to miners about how the body works for example, you probably can assume they may not have specific knowledge about biology therefore the speech should be adjusted so that they will understand. It is the job of an informative speech to educate. If simple language is understand in a forum where detailed, technical words are necessary, and the audience are knowledgeable, they may feel like the speech was too simplistic. However if the speech utilizes these words and the audience doesn't understand, then they may feel like they are being talked down to. If the audience is unfamiliar with these technical terms, avoid using them or introduce them with an explanation of what they mean.

The Occassion

Understanding the occassion for the speech can help with better contact with the audience. Especially with a captive involuntary audience, a speaker must establish a connection between their topic and the interests of the audience. In this case, explain the importance of the topic. Why should the audience listen? How will this information be meaningful to them? Express interest in the subject material. Why should an audience listen if the speaker seems just as bored as they do? A speaker who confesses their own interest in the topic might activate the audience to share a similar interest.

Be clear and concise

Spending a lot of time on simple concepts, going over harder concepts quickly and/or giving too many examples to prove one point may not go over well. You may lose the interest of your audience, if you try to convey too many details as well as too little. So find a middle ground and be very organized and specific in your presentation. Informative speeches thrive on detail, and dive on generalities. Audiences are often impressed by detail, but be careful not to become so detail-oriented that the big picture of the speech is lost (missing the forest for the trees).

Utilize audio-visuals if possible

Show, don't tell. Most people learn through doing or seeing? Being told about a process, like cloning, could be informative, but probably not have as great an impact as being shown the process with pictures or perhaps even lab equipment. Informative speeches often benefit from a demonstration or visual aid. Technology can assist "showing" when the subject is not easily brought physically into the room (imagine the troubles of an informative speech on the sun if a prop was required!)

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