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Writing a Speech: Types, Patterns, & Examples

To write a successful speech, one must carefully consider the 5 major rhetorical elements—purpose, audience, exigence, context, and constraints. These help create a speech that is well-suited to its intended audience, resonates with their needs and values, addresses relevant issues, fits the occasion, and overcomes potential limitations.

Key Considerations

Here are questions to ponder when writing a speech. You can learn more about rhetorical situation analysis.

Element Questions to Ask Oneself Examples & Tips
Purpose – What is the main goal or objective of my speech? – To inform the audience about climate change.
– What do I want the audience to think, feel, or do? – To persuade the audience to support a new policy.
– How does my purpose align with the audience’s interests? – To motivate students to pursue STEM education.
Audience – Who is my target audience? – Colleagues at a professional conference.
– What are their demographics, values, and beliefs? – High school students interested in environmental issues.
– What language and tone will resonate with them? – Using informal language with a touch of humor for young adults.
Exigence – What issue or problem am I addressing? – Rising rates of mental health issues among college students.
– Why is this topic important or relevant to the audience? – Providing solutions to improve public transportation.
– How can I create a sense of urgency or necessity? – Highlighting the immediate consequences of climate change.
Context – Where and when will the speech be delivered? – Keynote address at an annual fundraising gala.
– What is the occasion or event? – Commencement speech at a university graduation ceremony.
– What cultural or social factors should I consider? – Adapting content for an international audience.
Constraints – Are there any time constraints for the speech? – Delivering a concise TED Talk within 18 minutes.
– Are there topic restrictions or sensitivities to address? – Avoiding controversial topics at a corporate event.
– How can I work creatively within limitations? – Using storytelling to convey complex ideas within a short time.

Patterns for Organizing a Speech

Pattern Description Components/Steps Examples
Monroe’s Motivated Sequence A persuasive speech structure with a 5-step pattern focusing on creating a need or desire for change and proposing a solution. 1. Attention: Grab the audience’s attention with a compelling opening.
2. Need: Identify and describe the problem or need, highlighting its significance.
3. Satisfaction: Propose a solution or course of action to address the need.
4. Visualization: Paint a picture of the positive outcomes or benefits of implementing the solution.
5. Action: Call to action, urging the audience to take specific steps or support the solution.
Example: Persuasive Speech on Recycling

  1. Attention: Start with a startling statistic about plastic waste pollution.
  2. Need: Discuss the environmental impact of plastic waste on oceans and wildlife.
  3. Satisfaction: Propose a solution by advocating for increased recycling efforts and reducing single-use plastics.
  4. Visualization: Paint a picture of cleaner oceans, healthier ecosystems, and reduced carbon footprint with effective recycling practices.
  5. Action: Call to action for the audience to adopt recycling habits, support eco-friendly initiatives, and reduce plastic consumption.
Problem-Cause-Solution Analyzes a problem, explores its causes, and presents a solution, action plan, or remedies. 1. Problem: Clearly define and explain the issue or challenge.
2. Cause: Identify and discuss the underlying causes or factors contributing to the problem.
3. Solution: Propose practical solutions, strategies, or interventions to address the problem.
Example: Speech on Addressing Homelessness in Urban Areas

  1. Problem: Define the issue of homelessness in urban areas, including statistics and challenges faced by the homeless population.
  2. Cause: Explore the underlying causes such as lack of affordable housing, economic disparities, mental health issues, and systemic barriers.
  3. Solution: Propose solutions like increasing affordable housing options, providing access to mental health services, implementing job training programs, and community support initiatives.
Comparative Advantage Compares two or more options, choices, or viewpoints to demonstrate superiority or benefits. 1. Introduction: Provide background information and introduce the options to be compared.
2. Comparison: Compare the advantages, disadvantages, or features of each option systematically.
3. Evaluation: Evaluate the options based on criteria such as effectiveness, efficiency, cost, etc.
4. Conclusion: Summarize the findings and present a recommendation or preferred choice.
Example: Sales Pitch for a New Smartphone

  1. Introduction: Introduce the new smartphone model.
  2. Comparison: Compare the features, specifications, and performance of the new smartphone with competitors’ models, highlighting its superior camera quality, longer battery life, and innovative design.
  3. Evaluation: Evaluate the advantages of the new smartphone in terms of user experience, functionality, and value for money.
  4. Conclusion: Recommend the new smartphone as the preferred choice based on its comparative advantages.
Topical Organizes the speech based on different topics or categories. 1. Introduction: Introduce the overall theme or topic of the speech.
2. Topic 1: Present the first topic or category along with relevant information and examples.
3. Topic 2: Proceed with the second topic, following a similar structure as Topic 1.
4. Topic 3 (if applicable): Continue with additional topics as needed.
5. Conclusion: Summarize key points and provide a closing statement.
Example: Educational Speech on Renewable Energy Sources

  1. Introduction: Introduce the topic of renewable energy sources.
  2. Topic 1: Solar Energy – Discuss how solar panels work, benefits, and applications.
  3. Topic 2: Wind Energy – Explain wind turbines, advantages, and challenges.
  4. Topic 3: Hydroelectric Power – Describe hydroelectric dams, environmental impact, and efficiency.
  5. Conclusion: Summarize key points about renewable energy sources and their importance for sustainable development.
Chronological Presents information or events in sequential order based on time. 1. Introduction: Set the stage and introduce the timeline or sequence of events.
2. Event 1: Describe the first event or stage, providing context and details.
3. Event 2: Continue with the next event, following the chronological order.
4. Event 3 (if applicable): Include additional events in the sequence.
5. Conclusion: Wrap up the timeline and emphasize key takeaways.
Example: Historical Speech on the American Civil Rights Movement

  1. Introduction: Set the historical context of racial segregation and discrimination in the United States.
  2. Event 1: Brown v. Board of Education (1954) – Discuss the landmark Supreme Court case and its impact on desegregation in schools.
  3. Event 2: Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) – Describe Rosa Parks’ role and the boycott’s significance in the civil rights movement.
  4. Event 3: March on Washington (1963) – Highlight Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the push for civil rights legislation.
  5. Conclusion: Reflect on the achievements and ongoing challenges in the fight for civil rights.
Spatial Organizes information based on physical or spatial relationships. 1. Introduction: Introduce the spatial concept or layout being discussed.
2. Area/Location 1: Describe the first area or location, highlighting its features or characteristics.
3. Area/Location 2: Proceed with the next area or location, maintaining a spatial flow.
4. Area/Location 3 (if applicable): Include additional areas or locations as needed.
5. Conclusion: Summarize spatial relationships and key points.
Example: Tour Guide Speech at a Museum

  1. Introduction: Welcome visitors to the museum and provide an overview of the exhibits.
  2. Area/Location 1: Ancient History Section – Describe artifacts, historical periods, and civilizations.
  3. Area/Location 2: Art Gallery – Showcase famous artworks, artists’ biographies, and artistic movements.
  4. Area/Location 3: Science and Technology Wing – Explore inventions, discoveries, and innovations throughout history.
  5. Conclusion: Summarize the museum tour and encourage visitors to explore more exhibits.
Causal Explores cause-and-effect relationships, explaining how one factor leads to another. 1. Introduction: Introduce the topic and the causal relationship being discussed.
2. Cause 1: Present the first cause or factor, explaining its significance and impact.
3. Cause 2: Continue with the next cause, demonstrating the causal chain or sequence.
4. Cause 3 (if applicable): Include additional causes in the causal analysis.
5. Conclusion: Recap the causal relationships and outcomes.
Example: Speech on Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

  1. Introduction: Introduce the topic of social media usage.
  2. Cause 1: Excessive Screen Time – Discuss how spending too much time on social media can lead to reduced face-to-face interactions and feelings of isolation.
  3. Cause 2: Cyberbullying – Explain how cyberbullying on social media platforms can negatively impact mental health and self-esteem.
  4. Cause 3: Comparison and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – Explore how constant comparison to others’ highlight reels on social media can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  5. Conclusion: Discuss strategies for healthy social media usage and promoting mental well-being.
Pro-con Presents arguments or viewpoints by discussing the pros and cons of an issue or decision. 1. Introduction: Introduce the topic or issue under consideration.
2. Pro 1: Present the first argument or perspective in favor of the topic.
3. Con 1: Counter with the first argument or perspective against the topic.
4. Pro 2: Continue with additional pro arguments, alternating with con arguments.
5. Conclusion: Summarize the pros and cons, offer a balanced perspective, and possibly provide a recommendation.
Example: Debate Speech on Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  1. Introduction: Introduce the topic of UBI and its implications.
  2. Pro 1: Economic Security – Argue that UBI provides financial stability, reduces poverty, and promotes economic equality.
  3. Con 1: Cost and Funding – Discuss concerns about the feasibility of funding UBI and potential economic consequences.
  4. Pro 2: Job Flexibility and Creativity – Highlight how UBI can encourage entrepreneurship, job flexibility, and innovation.
  5. Con 2: Work Incentives and Dependency – Address arguments regarding work disincentives and potential dependency on government assistance.
  6. Conclusion: Summarize the key arguments for and against UBI and present a balanced perspective.
Narrative Uses storytelling techniques to convey information, engage the audience, and illustrate key points. 1. Introduction: Set the stage with an engaging story or anecdote related to the topic.
2. Plot Development: Progress through the narrative, weaving in relevant details, characters, and events.
3. Climax: Build tension or reach a pivotal moment in the story that highlights the main message or lesson.
4. Resolution: Conclude the narrative, tying back to the speech’s purpose or message.
Example: Inspirational Speech on Overcoming Adversity

  1. Introduction: Share a personal or fictional story about facing adversity and challenges.
  2. Plot Development: Narrate the struggles, setbacks, and obstacles encountered during the journey.
  3. Climax: Highlight a turning point or moment of resilience that led to personal growth and overcoming adversity.
  4. Resolution: Reflect on lessons learned, resilience, and the importance of perseverance in challenging times.
Spontaneous Involves impromptu or unscripted speaking, responding to immediate prompts or questions. – Listen carefully to the prompt or question.
– Gather your thoughts quickly and structure your response mentally.
– Start with a clear and concise opening statement or main point.
– Provide supporting details or examples to strengthen your response.
– Summarize your main points and conclude confidently.
Example: Answering a Question During a Panel Discussion

  • Listen to the question carefully.
  • Structure your response with an introduction, main points, and conclusion.
  • Provide relevant examples, evidence, or anecdotes to support your answer.
  • Maintain clarity, coherence, and confidence in your impromptu response.
  • Conclude with a concise summary or key takeaway.


Type of Speech Description Example Topics
Entertaining A speech designed to amuse, entertain, or engage the audience through humor, storytelling, or captivating anecdotes. – The Art of Stand-Up Comedy: Tips and Techniques
– Unforgettable Travel Adventures: Tales from Around the World
– Hilarious Moments from Childhood: Growing Up with Siblings
– The Evolution of Internet Memes: From LOLcats to Viral Videos
– Movie Night Madness: Critiquing Classic Films with a Twist
Demonstrative A speech that demonstrates or explains how to do something, showcasing a process, product, or skill with visual aids or practical examples. – How to Create a Stunning Floral Arrangement
– Mastering the Perfect Pancake: Cooking Demonstration
– DIY Home Décor: Transforming Your Space on a Budget
– Introduction to Basic Yoga Poses: Wellness Workshop
– The Art of Origami: Crafting Beautiful Paper Creations
Persuasive A speech aimed at influencing or persuading the audience to adopt a particular viewpoint, belief, action, or decision through compelling arguments and reasoning. – Implementing Sustainable Practices: Building a Greener Future
– The Importance of Voting: Your Voice, Your Impact
– Banning Single-Use Plastics: Protecting Our Oceans
– Promoting Mental Health Awareness: Breaking the Stigma
– Encouraging Volunteerism: Making a Difference in Your Community
Informative A speech focused on providing factual information, insights, or explanations about a topic, issue, concept, or event to educate and enlighten the audience. – Exploring Space Exploration: Discovering the Universe Beyond
– Understanding Climate Change: Facts, Myths, and Solutions
– Cybersecurity in the Digital Age: Safeguarding Your Online Presence
– The Science of Mindfulness: Benefits for Mental Well-being
– Unraveling Cryptocurrency: A Beginner’s Guide to Blockchain Technology
Motivational A speech intended to inspire, encourage, uplift, or motivate the audience by sharing personal stories, motivational quotes, and empowering messages. – Overcoming Adversity: Finding Strength in Challenges
– Pursuing Your Passions: Embracing Creativity and Innovation
– The Power of Positive Thinking: Cultivating a Growth Mindset
– Setting Goals for Success: Turning Dreams into Reality
– Resilience in Times of Change: Navigating Life’s Transitions with Confidence
Commencement A speech delivered at a graduation ceremony to congratulate and inspire graduating students, impart words of wisdom, and offer encouragement for the future. – Embracing Diversity and Inclusion in Our Journey Ahead
– Building Bridges: Fostering Connections Across Differences
– The Road Less Traveled: Embracing Opportunities and Challenges
– Courage to Dream: Pursuing Purpose and Passion in Every Endeavor
– Leaving a Legacy: Making Your Mark on the World
Graduation A speech given by a student or faculty member at a graduation ceremony to reflect on achievements, express gratitude, and celebrate milestones. – Reflections on Our Academic Journey: Memories and Milestones
– Lessons Learned Outside the Classroom: Growth Through Experiences
– Celebrating Achievements: Honoring Hard Work and Dedication
– Gratitude to Faculty, Family, and Friends: Support Along the Way
– Looking Ahead: Excitement and Challenges in the Next Chapter
Acceptance A speech delivered upon accepting an award, honor, position, or recognition, expressing gratitude, humility, and appreciation. – Gratitude for Recognition: Honoring Excellence and Achievement
– Embracing New Responsibilities: Commitment to Success and Impact
– Joining a Community of Leaders: Collaboration and Contribution
– Reflecting on Personal Growth: Lessons Learned and Future Goals
– Thriving in the Journey: Enthusiasm and Commitment to Making a Difference
Farewell or Retirement A speech given when bidding farewell or retiring from a position, role, or organization, reflecting on experiences, expressing gratitude, and wishing well for the future. – Reflections on a Fulfilling Career: Memories and Milestones
– Lessons Learned Along the Way: Wisdom and Insights to Share
– Thank You to Colleagues and Mentors: Gratitude for Support and Guidance
– Embracing New Adventures: Excitement for the Next Chapter
– Legacy of Leadership: Leaving a Positive Impact and Inspiring Others
Eulogy A speech delivered at a funeral or memorial service to honor, remember, and celebrate the life, achievements, and legacy of the deceased. – Celebrating a Life Well-Lived: Memories and Tributes
– Honoring Love and Legacy: Shared Moments and Values
– Lessons from a Remarkable Journey: Impact and Inspiration
– Gratitude for Friendship and Family: Support and Comfort
– Remembering with Joy: Laughter and Fond Memories
Keynote Address A speech delivered at the beginning of an event, conference, or seminar to set the tone, outline key themes, and engage the audience. – Leading with Purpose: Vision, Values, and Impact
– Embracing Innovation: Navigating Change and Transformation
– The Power of Collaboration: Building Stronger Communities
– Inspiring Leadership: Empowering Teams for Success
– Creating a Culture of Excellence: Strategies for Growth and Sustainability
Impromptu A speech delivered without prior preparation or rehearsal, responding spontaneously to a prompt, question, or situation. – The Value of Curiosity: Embracing a Lifelong Learning Mindset
– Overcoming Challenges: Finding Strength in Adversity
– The Importance of Kindness: Spreading Positivity and Compassion
– Embracing Diversity: Celebrating Differences and Building Bridges
– The Power of Resilience: Bouncing Back from Setbacks with Determination
Tribute A speech paying tribute, homage, or recognition to an individual, group, organization, or cause for their contributions, achievements, or impact. – Honoring Healthcare Heroes: Dedication and Sacrifice During Crisis
– Celebrating Women’s Empowerment: Trailblazers and Changemakers
– Remembering Veterans’ Service: Sacrifice and Courage for Freedom
– Paying Tribute to Teachers: Inspiring Minds and Shaping Futures
– Recognizing Community Leaders: Impact and Dedication to Service
Debates A structured discussion or argumentative speech format where participants present opposing viewpoints, arguments, and rebuttals on a specific topic or issue. – The Future of Artificial Intelligence: Opportunities vs. Risks
– Climate Change Policies: Balancing Environmental Protection and Economic Growth
– Universal Basic Income: Addressing Income Inequality and Economic Security
– Social Media Regulation: Protecting Privacy vs. Ensuring Free Expression
– Healthcare Reform: Access, Affordability, and Quality of Care

How to Write a Speech

Below is a structured guide on how to write a speech:

Stage Description
1. Identify Topic Determine the subject or theme of your speech. Consider your purpose, audience, and occasion.
2. Research Gather information, facts, examples, and supporting evidence related to your chosen topic.
3. Outline Create a structured outline for your speech, including an introduction, body, and conclusion.
4. Introduction Start with an attention-grabbing opening to hook the audience, introduce the topic, and state your thesis or main message.
5. Body Organize the main points and supporting details logically. Use transitions to smoothly move between ideas.
6. Main Points Develop each main point with relevant information, examples, anecdotes, quotes, and statistics.
7. Supporting Evidence Back up your points with credible sources, research findings, expert opinions, and real-life examples.
8. Transitions Use transition words and phrases to connect ideas, create flow, and guide the audience through your speech.
9. Conclusion Summarize key points, restate your thesis or main message, and leave the audience with a memorable closing statement.
10. Rehearsal Practice delivering your speech multiple times to improve fluency, timing, and confidence.
11. Feedback Seek feedback from peers, mentors, or trusted individuals to refine your speech and address any areas for improvement.
12. Revision Revise and edit your speech based on feedback, ensuring clarity, coherence, and effectiveness in communication.

Mistakes to Avoid & Tips

Below are tips on how to write and present a speech, along with common mistakes to avoid:

Focus Mistakes to Avoid Tips
Know Your Audience Ignoring the audience’s interests and preferences If you’re speaking at a technology conference, don’t delve into basic concepts; instead, focus on cutting-edge innovations relevant to the audience’s expertise.
Tailor Your Message Using a generic or one-size-fits-all approach Customize your speech for different demographics; for instance, a speech to teenagers about career choices will differ significantly from one directed at retirees planning for retirement.
Start with a Strong Opening Beginning with a lengthy introduction or unrelated anecdotes Capture attention with a surprising fact, personal story, or thought-provoking question that relates directly to your topic. For instance, “Did you know that bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the world’s crops?”
Have a Clear Structure Lack of organization or coherence in the speech Use a clear outline with an introduction, main points, and conclusion. Transition smoothly between sections to maintain a logical flow of ideas.
Use Engaging Language Using jargon or complex language that alienates the audience Avoid technical jargon unless your audience is familiar with it. Use clear, straightforward language and relatable examples to ensure understanding.
Be Concise and Relevant Including unnecessary details or tangents Stick to key points that directly support your main message. Eliminate fluff and focus on delivering impactful information.
Support with Evidence Making claims without backing them up with evidence Provide data, statistics, case studies, or expert opinions to strengthen your arguments and build credibility.
Use Visual Aids Wisely Overloading slides with text or distracting visuals Use visuals sparingly and ensure they enhance rather than distract from your speech. Include relevant images, charts, or graphs to illustrate key points.
Practice and Rehearse Winging it without practice or preparation Rehearse your speech multiple times to improve fluency, timing, and confidence. Practice in front of a mirror or with a trusted friend for feedback.
Get Feedback Ignoring feedback or not seeking input from others Solicit feedback from peers, mentors, or colleagues to identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments. Incorporate constructive criticism to refine your speech.

In summary, the key to writing a successful speech lies in understanding your audience, defining your purpose clearly, considering the context, crafting a well-structured message with engaging language, practicing and rehearsing effectively, and incorporating feedback for improvement. These elements collectively ensure that your speech is relevant, impactful, and effectively communicates your message to the audience.