Public speaking is the art of using words to share information with an audience. It includes speaking to audiences of any size, from a handful of seminar participants to millions of people watching on television. Mastering public speaking requires first differentiating between four of the primary types of public speaking: ceremonial, demonstrative, informative and persuasive.
Most people will give some sort of ceremonial speech during their lifetime. These speeches mark special occasions. They are common at weddings, graduations and funerals -- as well as large birthday celebrations and office holiday parties. Ceremonial speaking typically involves a toast and is personal with an intimate emotional connection to people hearing it.
Science demonstrations and role playing are types of demonstrative speaking. This type of public speaking requires being able to speak clearly and concisely to describe actions and to perform those actions while speaking. A demonstrative speaker may explain the process behind generating power while cycling to power a toaster, for example. The idea behind demonstrative speaking is that the audience members leave with the knowledge about how to do something.
With informative speaking, the speaker is trying simply to explain a concept to the audience members. College lecture courses involve informative speaking as do industry conferences and public officials sharing vital information. In this type of speaking, the information is what is important. The speaker is not trying to get others to agree with him or to show them how to do something for themselves. Rather he is disseminating vital information.
Persuasive speaking tends to be the most glitzy. Politicians, lawyers and clergy members use persuasive speaking. This type of speaking requires practicing voice inflections and nuances of language that will convince the audience members of a certain viewpoint. The persuasive speaker has a stake in the outcome of the speech. Politicians, for instance, may want votes or a groundswell of support for a pet project, while lawyers are trying to convince a jury of their position -- and clergy members are trying to win others over to their faith. The persuasive speaker uses emotional appeals and strong language in speeches.