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The last part of chapter 14 is a bit confusing as it attempts to categorize the different approaches to Informative Speaking. For our purposes, we will assign Informative Speeches to the following four (4) types, and this is to REPLACE pages 337-344. Use these, and NOT the ones in the text, to guide you in the development of the Informative Speech.
4 Types of Informative Speeches
1) Descriptive – in the most general sense, you are trying to get the audience to experience something through you. There are 2 approaches to do this:
a) the “real” speech- this is the description of a real, tangible, and physical that is so vivid and precise that the audience can picture it in their mind. The subject could be a place, an object, a person, etc and is described so clearly that the audience can accurately visualize it. b) The “mood” speech- this is where you attempt to convey just how a particular emotion or feeling feels; and the successful mood speech has the audience actually experiencing that emotional state.
For instance, when answering the question “How does it feel when you are depressed?” the speaker does not simply list other synonymous labels for depression such as ‘down’, ‘bummed’, ‘low’, but focuses instead upon the physiological ( weak, listless), mental (slower thinking, confusion), psychological( joyless, hating self), social( rejected, friendless) aspects. A good contemporary example is the TV ad about ADHD that likens this condition to trying to watch TV with the channels changing every second while showing a rapidly changing TV in the background. Mood speeches are difficult to maintain and develop as the entire speech, and are used many times as a segment of a “report” speech on that topic.
2) Report – the Report speech is a vastly different speech from the mood speech in that it deals with hard facts and precise data in a very analytical way. It also can be used in a myriad of ways: the life cycle of a flea, a biography of a person, a report giving information about a culture, country, religion, event, medical condition, etc. Even topics of some controversy can be informative in this category: compare/contrast prescription & generic drugs, the legal history of Roe v. Wade, pros/cons of legalizing prostitution/pot/gambling; school uniforms.
The over-riding goal here is to remain fair and objective, the audience should not be able to tell what the speaker’s personal position on the topic happens to be. It is unethical to hide a persuasive agenda under the auspices of an Informative speech, so avoid “I want to inform you why prostitution should be legal” and/or “…so you can see that since the ‘pros’ greatly outweigh the ‘cons’ we should do this…” or to limit the discussion to only the ‘pros’ (or ‘cons’) without fairly and honestly including the ‘cons’ (or ‘pros’).
3) Explanation- the speech of Explanation defines a process. This is NOT a “how to” speech; it explains how and/or why some process occurs. This is very much like a tour guide at the mint telling their group how coins are made. This is a more intellectual approach to a process- how diamonds are formed, how the AIDS virus invades T-helper cells, how wood becomes petrified, the water cycle, photosynthesis, how microwaves cook food, any surgical procedure, how the brain stores memories, how viruses infect computers, what makes a curveball curve- the list is endless. Think of all the processes you understand, any of them have the potential to be a good explanation speech.
4) Instruction – this IS the traditional “How to” speech, and this is where the process is actually performed, or we are taught how to do it. This has a ‘hands-on’ feel to it: how to write a good resume, how to save money/gas/time, how to pack for a vacation, how to debug your computer, how to throw a curveball. Sometimes the process can easily be demonstrated within the time limits of a speech; other processes my take longer than the allotted time. If that is the case, then have the successive steps/stages pre-done so you can move easily form one to the next. The audience really doesn’t need to watch you slice six carrots for a salad instead have all of them pre-sliced and just demonstrate a few cuts and then move on, nor do we need to wait until the paint dries. Take a hint from the professionals that
do the hobby/craft/cooking shows on TV, a bit of careful planning beforehand can result in a polished presentation of even a very complex process.
These are the categories of Informative Speaking. You do not have to stay within just one type, they can be combined as you see fit. For example, in speech that is primarily Explanation, there may be a section where you need to Describe what something looks like and there may be some elements of Report if you discuss the history of it.
There is an easy way to consolidate the points of the text with these 4 types of informative speeches. Think of the categories listed in the text as general topic areas from which an Informative Speech topic could be found. Once a topic has been selected, then its development can be guided and focused by the 4 types of informative speeches. For example, one might choose to do a speech about a person (Salvador Dali); it could be Descriptive (describing his physical attributes) or a Report (a biographical speech about his life) or an Explanation (how he created his works) or even some combination of these. The topic is, in all of these cases, ‘a person’ but it has the potential for different types of development; all leading to very different types of speeches.