Speaking: Styles, Purpose, Strategies


Learning to think precedes speaking. But speaking is so normal for us that we tend to speak before thinking. However, that offhand approach can be a problem in business.

Before using this tool, you need to know what objectives you’re going to achieve by it. To begin with, you have to stop the habit of talking spontaneously without planning the content and manner of your delivery.

You must learn to manage the impression you create by consciously tailoring your remarks and delivery style to suit the situation. Remember that speaking requires as much self-awareness as writing.

If you know how writing is done, you can easily apply the same principles of composition in planning oral communication. Before speaking, you need to be clear about your purpose, your main idea, and your audience.

Organize your thoughts logically, decide on a style that matches the circumstances, and then revise your statements mentally. While speaking, see if your words are making the intended impression on the listener. If they are not, you might convey the message differently. If the message is still unclear to the listener, keep changing your style and words.

Styles of Speaking

Remember that various situations call for different speaking styles, just as various writing assignments call for different writing styles. Three distinct styles of speech are marked by changes in vocabulary, voice quality, and sentence structure:

Expressive style

Expressive style is spontaneous, colloquial, and unprejudiced. We use it while we chat, openly express our feelings, crack jokes in a relaxed manner, complain freely, or mingle with people informally. For example: “A good citizen is one who loves his country,” “She is kind-hearted.”

Directive style

Directive style is authoritative and judgmental. We use this style in giving orders, exercising authority, passing judgment, or giving opinions. For example: “Taher must go to Comilla on 5th December.”

Problem-solving style

Problem-solving style is rational, impersonal, unbiased, and flat. Most business dealings use this style, especially when we need to solve problems and reach objectives.

For example;

  1. “Mr. Hossain should make his presentation more precise.”
  2. “Students should be gentle,” etc.

While choosing one of these styles, you also have to consider the non-verbal aspects of your communication because people derive more meaning from your body language, facial expressions, and your tone of voice than from your words.

However, while you have a conversation on the phone, it is your tone of voice that is all-important, and neither your facial expression nor your body language has any significance. But remember to maintain the “you” attitude in your conversation whenever you can. It ensures the listener’s goodwill towards you.

Preparing to Speak

In preparation for making speeches and oral presentations, you need to adopt nearly the same strategies as you do while getting ready to conduct meetings and interviews.

Similar homework, such as defining your purpose, knowing the audience, deciding upon the strategies of speech, and developing a plan for presenting your points, need to be done before you stand up to speak.

But an important difference between speeches and presentations and interviews and meetings is that speeches and presentations are usually addressed to larger gatherings.

Hence, the interaction between the audience and the speaker is different from that in the case of interviews and meetings. Generally, being public in nature, with public events, speeches and oral presentations seldom address emotional issues or personal problems (as some interviews do).

Lastly, in respect to content and structure, speeches and presentations resemble, to a great extent, formal reports. In order to be successful, the speaker has to be careful about the following.

Defining the Purpose of Speaking

The interaction between the speaker and the audience depends on how the speaker speaks and why he or she speaks. Purpose determines the size of audience participation. Usually, speaking has some purposes:

To inform or analyze: When you supply information or analyze a situation to your audience, some interaction between you and the audience takes place. Such a presentation is identical to written messages, after which the audience makes comments and queries to clarify your points.

To persuade or please: In case you try to persuade or please, you generally do most of the talking while your audience mostly listens. Then you’re the controller of the message.

To motivate or cooperate: Interaction mostly occurs when your purpose is to motivate or cooperate with your audience in a particular action, solution of a problem, or arriving at a decision.

You might start out by priming up your audience with facts and figures that raise the audience’s awareness of the subject. Arguments could also be used to convince them of your points.

Additionally, you could involve the audience by asking them for their opinions, suggestions, comments, questions, recommendations, and so on. Remember that in this interactive mode of speaking, you have very little control over your audience and material.

Knowing the Audience

You need to adapt your speech to the nature, size, background, and attitude of your audience. For planning

your speech, at first, you are to consider the size of your audience. A small audience is good for decision-making. But if your audience comprises more than 10 people, you shouldn’t try to achieve a consensus by a give-and-take method.

Rather, your direct talking without feedback might be more effective. A heterogeneous audience requires a generalized presentation while a focused speech is fruitful for a homogeneous group.

Before you plan your presentation, you also importantly take into consideration the social, educational, and economic background of your audience and word your speech accordingly.

It is better not to use touchy expressions and words that might be incomprehensible to the members of your audience because of their intellectual or academic shortages. Besides, you need to anticipate your audience’s attitude toward your personality, your subject, tone, and style.

Deciding upon the Strategies for Speech

Your message should be clear, comprehensible, and precise. If your information is put in a form or a language that the audience does not understand, your message will be defeated.

For maximum impact and achievement of your goals, you must define the main idea, construct an outline, estimate the appropriate length, and decide on the most effective style.

Developing the main idea

The main idea links your subject and purpose to the audience’s target. While developing the main idea, try to make it interesting to the audience.

The main idea shows how your audience can benefit from your message. State the main idea in one sentence and then elaborate on it with arguments and examples.

Developing an outline

The outline should be structured in such a way that it naturally leads up to the subject, the aim, and the audience so that the message can be presented within the stipulated time.

You would do well to structure your short speech or presentation in letter or memo form. On the other hand, longer speeches and presentations should resemble formal reports.

Clear and direct organization is useful in accommodating the listener’s limitations. You need to make sure that you can provide for the audience input (queries, suggestions, comments, and the like from the audience) in your outline.

Adapting the length of speech to the stipulated time

Usually, a speaker can utter 150 to 160 words per minute. You also have to consider if the listener can cope with your speed, given the size and circumstances of the audience.

You also need to consider the kind of subject you are going to speak about, as difficult subjects requiring difficult syntax might require slower delivery.

So make sure that your subject, aim, and organization are congruous with time and place. That is, you are to match your material to the given time so that you can use up all the time allotted to you and yet remain within your outline.

Choosing the appropriate style

Your style of presentation depends on who your audience is and how you would like to approach them according to the audience’s size. Use the formal style if your audience is large and your subject is serious. On the other hand, the informal style is the most effective for small groups of listeners.


Speaking and listening are essential daily activities. As social individuals, we constantly engage in these acts. For instance, managers talk with colleagues, salespeople with customers, parents with children, and teachers with students. In all situations, speaking is crucial. Similarly, listening is also unavoidable. In any group or organization, we must be prepared to speak and listen.

Both speaking and listening are key parts of oral communication. They allow for immediate feedback and interaction, with the speaker and listener checking each other’s understanding. Through them, ideas are exchanged and problems are discussed and solved, promoting group unity.

However, there are downsides. Speaking often happens on the spot, so errors can’t be easily corrected. A listener might also miss details if they’re not attentive. Despite these challenges, it’s important to improve our speaking and listening skills.