The Style of a Speech: Speaker, Audience & Purpose

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  • 0:02 Why Is Speech Style Important?
  • 0:46 The Style of the Speaker
  • 2:28 Consider the Audience
  • 4:01 What's the Purpose?
  • 4:52 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

When writing a speech, a writer should consider the speaker, audience and purpose of the speech. Each factor influences the overall style of the speech.

Why Is Speech Style Important?

For some, Open Mic Night at the local bar might conjure up some pretty bad memories - random people yacking about this or that, one minute a guy tells you about the novel ways to trim your hedges into the likes of farm animals, while another talks about his belief that aliens live amongst us. You and your buddies roll your eyes and dash for the door. And this is for good reason! Neither speaker took the time to consider some very important things.

You see, when a speechwriter sets out to draft a winning speech, he not only considers the topic - he thinks about the speaker, audience and purpose of the speech. Why, you ask? He does this mostly to keep the attention and interest of his audience. Let's take a closer look at this.

The Style of the Speaker

A speaker's style is simply the unique way in which the information is delivered to the audience. People are different. So, in order to get the message across in the most effective way, the speaker's style must factor into the content of the speech. Sounds confusing, but it's really not!

Let's say a speech was written to persuade or influence people to do something. Having a vivacious and outspoken dynamo running around the stage will most likely get people to take action! Conversely, a passive, soft-spoken speaker may not be as effective. This is because excitement is contagious. In other words, the speaker's style should complement the speech.

There are a few styles to think about:

  • Content-rich speaker
  • Funny or humorous speaker
  • Storyteller

If the speaker is content-rich, he may speak in facts significant to the audience. He will stick to objective information. So, if it were your goal to get information out to a large group of people in a timely way, this would be your guy.

Some speakers are downright hilarious. These funny or humorous speakers entertain the crowd using jokes and other antics to generate excitement and interest. This style works well for an icebreaker or to take a group that hardly knows one another and bring them together through laughter. Everyone loves a jokester!

Maybe you want to inspire your group. Use a storyteller. This speaker tells a story about something relevant to the crowd. It's not necessarily factual information. Maybe he will talk about an experience he had that can translate into a lesson for the audience.

Now, a speaker's style is just one piece of it. The audience is another important consideration.

Consider the Audience

We've all been there at one time or another. A speaker is talking and nobody is listening. But it may not be that the speaker is boring; it may very well be that the speaker did not consider his audience. Not to worry; there are ways to be sure your content matches the audience.

Consider these questions:

  • How much does the audience know about the topic?
  • Does the audience agree with your beliefs?
  • Is there anything new to present?
  • What does the speech mean to the audience?

Knowing what your audience knows will help you to tailor a speech to their level of understanding. You'll be able to choose the right words, define the ones they may not understand and even make tone decisions that will ensure your audience gets it.

If the audience doesn't agree with you, it is important to choose your words wisely. One of the quickest ways to lose an audience is to offend them. It's best to find a happy medium to start building your relationship.

You never want to put your audience to sleep. The best way to avoid this is by presenting new information to them. If you are all on the same side, you find yourself preaching to the choir, so to speak. Find new information about a topic. This will keep things interesting.

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