Mastering the Art of Public Speaking: Various Types of Speeches

Spence Finlayson - Mastering the Art of Public Speaking: The Importance of Public Speaking
Spence Finlayson

By Spence M. Finlayson

[NASSAU, Bahamas] –  If you are a professional speaker or just an occasional speaker, you should be aware that there are various types of speeches that must be delivered depending on the event or ceremony.

As an international motivational speaker I have more than 34 years of experience. As a result, I’ve had the honor and privilege of giving various types of speeches and presentations. Including across my native Bahamas, the Caribbean, Central America and the United States.

Here are the various types of speeches:

While speeches intended to entertain an audience may be either informative or persuasive, the rhetorical situation often provides a clear indication of when a speech falls into the special occasion category. Consider roasts and toasts. Both entertain and celebrate, albeit in different ways.

An awards banquet and weddings are examples of special occasions that call for a speaker to present an upbeat, light speech designed to amuse the audience while celebrating a person, event, or situation. Additionally, the speaker may be chosen as the Master of Ceremonies.


A Eulogy is a very special type of commemorate speech that requires compassion, understanding and deep knowledge of the deceased. It is the final favor to the deceased, revealing the best parts of their life to the people who loved them.

When we think of a speech crafted to commemorate something or someone, perhaps a eulogy is the first type to come to mind. That is likely because a commemorative speech is one of tribute, and often remembrance, such as a eulogy or when a speaker recalls an anniversary or a milestone event.

Speeches of commemoration can also include building or monument dedications that are designed to honor the memory of the person or situation that inspired the site.


Now, this is one of my favorite types of speeches. An Inspirational speech is given to persuade, or convince listeners, that they can succeed . This might involve sharing optimistic and uplifting stories based on faith or real-life situations.

Often the rhetorical situation calls for a speaker to present words of wisdom and guidance based upon their own personal experiences or what they’ve learned through shared experiences of the audience they are addressing. Examples of this kind of inspirational speaking include one you’ve all likely already witnessed – or will soon – the commencement speech. Another example is a keynote address at a conference or convention. An inaugural address is another type of speech designed to inspire audiences through the promise of the speaker’s vision for the future.

 Types of Special Occasion Speeches

Public SpeakingIf we consider the functions of special occasion speeches we’ve just reviewed, chances are we could come up with a myriad of different types of speeches that could be included in this section. For our purposes, we are going to focus on several special occasion speeches that you are most likely to encounter in your academic, professional, and personal lives, and those that will enable you with the tools to stand up and speak out in events and situations in which you may find yourselves given a platform to deliver a speech to a rapt audience.

Speeches of Introduction

The first type of speech is called the speech of introduction, which is a mini-speech that introduces another speaker. There are two main goals of an introduction speech. To provide a bit of context, including who the speaker is and why that speaker will be giving a speech at the particular event. Additionally, to entice the audience to pay attention to what the speaker has to say.

Just like any other speech, a speech of introduction should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion – as concisely but informative as possible.

For an introduction, think of a hook that will make your audience interested in the upcoming speaker. Did you read a news article related to the speaker’s topic? Have you been impressed by a presentation you’ve heard the speaker give in the past? You need to find something that can grab the audience’s attention and make them excited about hearing the main speaker.

Body of Your Speech

The body of your speech of introduction should be devoted to telling the audience about the speaker’s topic, why the speaker is qualified, and why the audience should listen (notice we now have our three body points).

First, tell your audience in general terms about the overarching topic of the speech. You may only have a speech title and maybe a paragraph of information to help guide this part of your speech; that’s alright. Remember, your role is to be concise and to the point – the speaker is the one who will elaborate on the topic.

Next, you need to tell the audience why the speaker is a credible speaker on the topic. Has the speaker written books or articles on the subject? Has the speaker had special life events that make him or her qualified? Think about what you’ve learned about building ethos and do that for the speaker. Lastly, you need to briefly explain to the audience why they should care about the upcoming speech.

The final part of a good introduction is the conclusion, which is generally designed to welcome the speaker to the lectern. Many introduction speeches will conclude by saying something like, “I am looking forward to hearing how Joe Smith’s advice and wisdom can help all of us today, so please join me in welcoming Mr. Joe Smith.” We’ve known some presenters who will even add a notation to their notes to “start clapping” and “shake speakers hand” or “give speaker a hug” depending on the circumstances of the speech.

Speeches of Presentation

The second type of common ceremonial speech is the speech of presentation. A speech of presentation is a brief speech given to accompany a prize or honor. Speeches of presentation can be as simple as saying, “This year’s recipient of the Schuman Public Speaking prize is Wilhelmina Jeffers”. Or, you could last up to five minutes as the speaker explains why the honoree was chosen for the award.

When preparing a speech of presentation, it’s always important to ask how long the speech should be. Once you know the time limit, then you can set out to create the speech itself.

First, you should explain what the award or honor is and why the presentation is important.

Second, you can explain what the recipient has accomplished in order for the award to be bestowed. Did the person win a race? Has the person written an important piece of literature? Did the person mediate conflict? Whatever the recipient has done, you need to clearly highlight his or her work.

Lastly, if the race or competition was conducted in a public forum and numerous people didn’t win, you may want to recognize those people for their efforts as well.

Speeches of Acceptance

There are three typical components of a speech of acceptance. Thank the givers of the award or honor. Then, thank those who helped you achieve your goal. Finally, put the award or honor into perspective.

First, you want to thank the people who have given you the award or honor and possibly those who voted for you. We see this done every year during the Oscars, “First, I’d like to thank the academy and all the academy voters.”

Second, you want to give credit to those who helped you achieve the award or honor. No person accomplishes things in life on his or her own. We all have families and friends and colleagues who support us and help us achieve what we do in life. As a result, a speech of acceptance is a great time to graciously recognize those individuals.

Lastly, put the award in perspective. Tell the people listening to your speech why the award is meaningful to you.

Speeches of Dedication

The fourth ceremonial speech is the speech of dedication. A speech of dedication is delivered when a new store opens, a building is named after someone. Or, a plaque is placed on a wall, a new library is completed, and so on. These speeches are designed to highlight the importance of the project and those to whom the project has been dedicated.

When preparing the speech of dedication, start by explaining your connection to the project. Plus, why you’ve been asked to speak. Next, you want to explain what is being dedicated and who was involved with the project, who made it possible.

If the project is a new structure, talk about the people who built the structure or designed it. If the project is a preexisting structure, talk about the people who put together and decided on the dedication.

You also want to explain why the structure is important and the impact it may have on the local community. For instance, if the dedication is for a new store, you could talk about how the store will bring in new jobs. Plus, new shopping opportunities. If the dedication is for a new wing of a hospital, you could talk about how patients will be served. In addition to the advances in medicine the new wing will provide the community.



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The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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