4 Types of Speeches
There are different types of speeches depending on how much preparation and what type of preparation was done for the speech. The types of speeches are manuscript speeches, memorized speeches, extemporaneous speeches, and impromptu speeches1.
A manuscript speech is a speech that is read from a prepared written document. That written document might be on notecards, a piece of paper, a teleprompter (a TV that shows the written speech), or something else. These speeches are usually given for formal occasions and speakers will have a long time to prepare.
When giving a manuscript speech, it is important to know the speech well enough that you are not wholly dependent on the written notes, read/speak at a natural, slow pace, and sound like how you would normally speak in a conversation rather than how you would read a book1.
Watch the speech below. Then answer the questions by writing your answers on a piece of paper.
This speech was given during a graduation ceremony at a U.S. University. The speaker likely wrote his speech as a script and submitted it to the University before delivering the speech at the ceremony.
Click the link to watch The Ultimate Triumph of Truth by David W. Kastner.
1. How did David Kastner use the written manuscript while he gave his speech?
2. Were there any parts during the speech where the speaker sounded unnatural or robotic?
3. Were there any parts during the speech where the speaker sounded natural or conversational?
4. What about the speaker's body language made this speech sound more natural?
5. Did the speaker speak too quickly or too slowly at any point? How did the speed of the speech affect you as a listener?
A memorized speech is a speech that is memorized before it is given and is given without a manuscript or notes to look at during the speech. Memorized speeches are often used for formal occasions from weddings to business proposals.
Even though the name of this type of speech is memorized speeches. It is not recommended to memorize every word of your speech, but instead, you should memorize the outline of your speech so that you can speak more naturally1.
See U4 Speaking Practice for more information and practice with memorized speeches.
Write or outline a short speech about 1 paragraph in length. Use the strategies below to practice memorizing your speech.
- repeat the speech aloud to yourself multiple times
- create a mnemonic (a pattern of letters or ideas that help you remember)
- practice while doing something with a set rhythm like walking, tapping your toe, or clapping
- record yourself giving the speech and listen to the recording multiple times while you practice along
Give the written copy or outline that you wrote to a classmate. Deliver your memorized speech. While you speak, your partner will check that you talked about all the important ideas from the written copy or outline of your speech.
Reflect on the things below. For each, consider, "What were my strengths?" and "What were my weaknesses?".
1. topics addressed while giving the speech
2. body language while giving the speech
3. engaging with the audience while giving the speech
4. preparation to give the speech
An extemporaneous speech is a speech given based on notes that are prepared beforehand, but are not a word-for-word manuscript1. This allows you to sound more natural and conversational than if you were to read every word from a prepared manuscript.
Sometimes you may write a detailed outline instead of a word-for-word manuscript so that you talk how you talk, not how you write2. The way people write often uses different grammar and vocabulary than how they speak which is why listening to a person reading a manuscript word for word can sometimes sound odd. To avoid this, you can write your manuscript how you normally speak or you can do an outline and fill in the individual sentences with natural speech in the moment. If you do use an outline instead, the speech is likely an extemporaneous speech.
See U4 Speaking Practice for more information and exercises with speech organization that you could use to make an outline.
Watch The Mindset Shift Needed to Tackle Big Global Challenges by Bernhard Kowatsch. Then discuss the questions below with a partner.
The Mindset Shift Needed to Tacke Big Global Challenges
by Bernhard Kowatsch.
1. Does Bernhard Kowatsch sound like he is reading from a manuscript or speaking conversationally in this speech? Why do you think that?
2. How long do you think the speaker prepared to give his speech?
3. What strategies would you recommend that he do to prepare for his speech?
4. What were the key points that he mentioned in his speech? If he were to write an outline or notes, what key points should he write down?
An impromptu speech is a speech that is given with little to no time to prepare and doesn't use a written manuscript or notes1. Impromptu speeches happen more often in daily life but can happen sometimes in formal situations. For example, when you are asked to speak to a group of your classmates about what you learned in an activity, that can be an impromptu speech.
Work with a partner. You have 30 seconds to brainstorm and organize your ideas about the prompts below. After brainstorming, speak to your partner for 1 minute answering the prompt. Set a timer, so that you do not spend more time planning than 30 seconds and you do not speak for less than 1 minute.
1. Is a corn-based diet healthy?
2. Should music be a required class in all schools?
3. What are the major contributors to student stress?
4. How can you best help people in need after a natural disaster?
5. Should people be required to grow only native wildflowers?
6. Which is better in-person education or online education?
Given the situations below, which speech type would you choose? Write the name of the type and 1-2 sentences explaining why you chose that type for the situation.
1. Your coworker is sick and suddenly texts you asking if you can cover their part of the presentation.
2. You are giving a presentation for a class project on a subject you studied all semester.
3. You are giving a speech to the national government.
4. You go to a meeting at your child's school and tell the board or council your opinion on the school's policies.
5. You run for political office and give a campaign speech, or you are a politician and give an important speech about a crucial topic.