Types of Oral Presentations


Oral presentations in college courses generally fall into two categories: informative and persuasive speaking. More often than not, your professor will assign you a particular type of presentation and/or a specific topic to investigate. At other times, you may be given the freedom to choose both your topic and the type of presentation you wish to give.

Informative Speaking has audience learning as its primary goal. An informative speech may explain a concept, instruct an audience, demonstrate a process, or describe an event. In an academic setting, the informative speech may take many different forms:

  • Individual or Group Report
  • Oral Briefing
  • Oral Exams
  • Panel Discussion
  • Oral Critique

Preparing and Delivering Your Presentation provides an overview of organizational patterns particularly suited for informative speaking.

Persuasive Speaking is used to influence what an audience thinks or does. Brydon and Scott in Between One and Many:The Art and Science of Public Speaking outline four goals of persuasive speaking:

  • to reinforce the attitudes, beliefs, and values an audience already holds
  • to inoculate an audience against counterpersuasion
  • to change attitudes
  • to motivate an audience to act

(Brydon, Steven R. and Michael D. Scott. Between One and Many: The Art and Science of Public Speaking. Third Edition. Mt. View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 2000).

Persuasion is a very complex process that combines three essential elements: ethos, the credibility of the speaker; logos, the logical proof and reasoning presented in the words of the speech; and pathos, the use of emotional appeals to influence the audience. Several forms of persuasive speaking exist in the college environment:

  • Analyses of current events/institutions/policies, literary criticism, scientific data, etc. in an attempt to persuade the audience to accept a particular view
  • Debates, within the classroom and the college community
  • Task-force groups
  • Advocacy presentations
  • Professional interviews
  • Role-playing or simulations

Preparing and Delivering Your Presentation provides an overview of organizational patterns particularly suited for the challenging task of persuading an audience. The consultants in the Ferguson Center are available to assist you in preparing your persuasive presentation. Make an appointment today!