How to Write an Informative Speech

Five Parts:Deciding on Your TopicResearching Your TopicWriting Your SpeechPracticing Your SpeechSample Informative Speeches

An informative speech explains something you're interested in or describes how to do something. Here are a few guidelines on how to write an informative speech.

Part 1
Deciding on Your Topic

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    Write a list of general subject areas that match your knowledge and experience. Your informative speech can cover a process, an event, a concept, or a type of object. Start with the bigger picture, brainstorming subjects that you are familiar with. For example, write down subjects you've excelled at in school, and activities you've practiced for years. The more information you start with, the easier it will be to write an informative speech.
    • You'll probably spend a great deal of time on this speech, and may continue to give it or hear about it for years to come. Take the time to come up with a long list, so you have more options to hone in on the speech you'll love to write and deliver.
    • For instance, if you really like hunting, you're likely to have a lot of interesting and not-at-all obvious things to say about it. You'll still want to do research on more than just your experience hunting. Interesting topics like hunting customs, laws, the kinds of animals you hunt, their behavior and their place in the ecosystem will come from research.
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    Consider subject areas based on things you don't know yet, but would like to. Add these topics to your subject areas list.
    • Say you're interested in becoming a movie producer, but you don't know a lot about what it's like - there's few better ways of learning about it than researching movie production and then explaining it to people.
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    Narrow down your subject areas list into topics. You should be able to figure out roughly if you're going to be able to cover your topic in the time allotted. Pick out a specific purpose for your speech to guide your presentation as well as to guide your audience's attention.
    • Try to make your speech interesting, not just important. Saying very general and important things that everyone already knows can make a speech boring, and can fill up your speech with background details that aren't really specifically what your speech is about. For instance, imagine an informative speech on video game development that went into extreme detail about every last line of rendering, file management and level design that all video games shared in common. Such a speech would be fairly long and probably difficult to listen to, for anyone not deeply involved in video game design.
    • Be specific with your speech topic. Try to drill down into some interesting details that people might not know about. For example, local Native American hunting customs instead of hunting in general, how it's different producing a zombie movie instead of movie production in general, how video game guilds and clans are organized instead of video game in general.
    • Your deep knowledge about the details of your topic are what makes your speech cool and interesting. For example: Would you rather listen to a speech about how food is important - or about how to make a certain type of food - say, kimchi tacos or chocolate bacon eclairs? Would you rather learn about how it's really important to drive well, or would you rather learn specific ways that you could drive better, like defensive driving tactics and little steering wheel tricks that few people know about?
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    From your list of topics, choose one to develop into your thesis. Your thesis is simply a specific statement expressing clearly in a single sentence what exactly you're going to do.
    • Focus on things that you can feasibly do without too much work. For instance, a speech topic like "I will explain how to hunt, skin and dress a deer in the traditional respectful Native American style" might run into problems if you give your informative speech using a dead deer in a classroom setting or if you simply can't find a deer.
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    Make your thesis as specific as possible. A vague thesis like “I’m going to talk about carburetors” could include a lot of topics - how carburetors function, two versus four barrel carburetors, etc., etc. A clear, specific and even pretty interesting thesis for this topic might instead be "I am going to explain how to take apart a carburetor".
    • Think about teaching people how to do things or how things were done - not just teaching people about things. For instance, just like with carburetors, a statement like “In this speech, you will learn about zippers” is not the best thesis - it sounds very general and obvious. Following that statement, you might reasonably expect anything from someone zipping their pants up and down to an hour-long presentation on the history of zippers - it's hard to tell! More clear, specific examples of a thesis might be "In this speech, you will learn how the zipper was first invented." or "I will explain how the first zombie movies were made and how special effects technology has advanced since then".

Part 2
Researching Your Topic

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    Do your initial research. If there's one rule to writing an informative speech it's this: Know your subject. Do your research with care and integrity, using reliable sources and taking notes as you go.
    • As you gather your research materials and begin reading, separate the material you'll specifically use in your speech - but also be open to learning more about your subject area that may not be directly related to your thesis. You may need to answer questions about your speech topic. Learning additional background material that you may not think is directly relevant can help you to answer these questions. For example, if your speech is on Native American hunting and someone asks about different Native American hunting traditions besides the local ones, you'll seem a lot more knowledgeable - and will in fact be a lot more knowledgeable - if you cast a wide net with your research.
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    Consider how your research might change your topic. Once your research is completed, you may find something new that emerges that you'd rather do your speech on. Rather than ignore that, plan for something like this to happen.
    • For an informative speech on movie production for zombie movies, for instance, it might emerge during research that you find the actual traditional zombie myth more interesting than the movies. Don't resist the urge to change speech topics - you've done a lot of the research already and you'll give a much more interesting speech if it's a topic you've suddenly discovered is interesting.

Part 3
Writing Your Speech

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    Consider your audience before writing your speech. It's a good idea to assume they know little about your topic. (Which is why you’re informing them, right?) With this in mind, however, you might still need to give background information. Be careful about what shortcuts you take in explaining your topic.
    • Unless your assignment says otherwise, don’t explain anything that’s a given for your audience. Nobody wants to be told what a car steering wheel or a zipper is, after all, and if you're giving a speech on carburetors to, say, a group of auto mechanics, you won’t need to give a lot of background information because they already know the topic well.
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    Outline your speech. Write a list of the information you think should be included and put it in a logical order.
    • For how-to informative speeches, include the reasons for what you're doing as well as how you do it. For instance, if your speech is on making kimchi tacos, you should explain why some steps are in a certain sequence - do you add the kimchi last so that the taco doesn't get soggy? For a carburetor speech, why are the screws tightened or loosened in a certain order? This information is important for your audience in learning your topic.
    • For informative speeches that explain and describe something instead of explaining how to do something, make sure to put your information into a sequence that makes sense. Our local Native American hunting speech, for example, would have to include some basic information on the identity of local Native American tribes before getting into the specific details of hunting traditions.
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    Expand your outline to make the body of the speech. Make it interesting and informative by elaborating on your key points.
    • A common tactic for these speeches, especially when they are given on an impromptu basis, is to come up with the three most important points for a speech and organize them by chronological order, spatial order or order of importance. This process yields a smooth, informative speech in a hurry. For instance, chronological ordering of a Native American speech might start with Native American hunting traditions prior to the arrival of Europeans, the changes to Native American hunting traditions caused by American history, then conclude with the modern state of Native American hunting.
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    Write an introduction. Your introduction should grab the audience's attention and let them know what direction you’re headed - particularly if it's a long or complicated speech, be sure to lay out what points you intend to cover.
    • It's very common to begin a speech with an amusing anecdote or an interesting quote relevant to your topic. This can be effective in establishing rapport with the audience, but it can backfire if you choose a cheesy statement or a joke that no one gets or likes. For instance, starting any speech, anywhere, with the joke "I just flew in from New York... and boy are my arms tired!" is probably a very bad idea (unless the speech is on bad jokes).
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    Write a conclusion. The conclusion should quickly summarize the main points of your speech.
    • End your speech with your thesis statement. People are likeliest to remember the first and last things they hear - so to make sure you're getting your message across, it helps to "front-load" and "back-load" your speech with your important take-home message.
    • Try to tie your conclusion into the introduction in some way; coming full circle will give your speech a sense of resolution. For example, returning to the first example you used, or returning to the themes or even the specific jokes or phrases you began your speech with can give a nice feeling of "closing the circle" to your speech. If your speech on carburetors began with a story about how your car began to malfunction at the worst time possible necessitating carburetor disassembly, for instance, you'll want to conclude your speech by telling your audience how that car repair ended up working out.

Part 4
Practicing Your Speech

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    Practice your speech while being timed. Practice your speech out loud and time yourself. Add or cut out material as necessary. Even if you do not have an assigned time limit for your speech, your "hard" time limit is essentially how long you can talk for until people become bored. You will not know this while you're busy giving the speech - so get a good sense of it beforehand.
    • If your speech is for a forensics or speech event, make sure that it fits within the time limits you are working within. You will get cut off if your speech goes over time - so make sure that it fits. If your speech will not be strictly monitored, don't worry if the speech is a little longer than your self-imposed time limit.
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    Practice slowing down. When you're presenting in front of a group of people, you'll feel like you're going at a glacial pace, even when you're talking quite quickly. To make sure the audience gets the most out of your speech, practice slowing down even more than feels natural.
    • If you can, videotape yourself and see for yourself how quickly you talk. It can be very eye-opening to think you're speaking slowly when in fact you're rushing through things.
    • Learn to insert dramatic pauses into your speech. A dramatic pause can hammer home a specific bit of information or offer the audience time for reflection. The best presenters use them sparingly but to great effect.
    • Be careful about lists of information. If you need to list out a set of ideas of facts, give yourself time to pause after each item in the list.[1]
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    Practice your speech with your props if you have them. You will probably be a lot more nervous when you give your speech - so get it down as pat as you can.
    • Practice what will happen if your props malfunction. Being nervous will make it very easy to mess up, so set yourself up for success by making working with your props as automatic and easy as possible for yourself. What happens if you give your speech on carburetors and fumble or mess up your disassembly procedure, or if you suddenly misplace a key ingredient in the middle of a delicate taco-making procedure and be unable to continue? Plan for something to go wrong and you'll be able to recover smoothly and still give a great speech.

Sample Informative Speeches

Sample Informative Speech

Sample Academic Lecture

Sample Research Report


  • Even if you write a great speech, it's no good if you're unclear or if you mumble when you give it. Practice speaking clearly and comprehensibly - it's a great life skill to have that a lot of people forget.
  • When speaking in public, it is very easy to talk too fast. You will be nervous, and when people are nervous, they talk fast. Most people do not slow down. Take this into account not only when you are practicing but also when you are writing - if you are talking slow enough to be comprehensible and professional-appearing, you may not have enough time to give that long detailed speech you wrote.
  • You're probably much better at informative speeches than you know! If you have ever told your parents about your day at school, or explained to a friend how to make chicken noodle soup, you already have practice giving an informative speech!
  • If you have trouble thinking of a topic for your speech, search the internet for topics - there are sites with lists of potential topics. Or consider what you spend most of your time talking about. For example, if you talk about beauty products often, consider talking about how to make your own, or how to do a specific hair style.
  • Your outline is meant to be a guide to help you organize your speech, but it's not set in stone. As you fill in the details to actually write your speech, you may find that some points in your outline are unnecessary or out of order. Feel free to add, delete, and rearrange points to make sense. Have the flow down pat before you present your speech to avoid looking disorganized!
    • As you give your speech, you might feel like expanding on some topics or reducing others. Be sensitive to your audience, but also be aware that 'ad-libbing' too much like this may cause you to lose your place in the speech. Try to stick to your plan.
  • Remember, informative speeches simply inform people. Don’t choose a topic based on your opinion. That's a persuasive speech.
    • It's important to understand the difference between persuasive and informative speech. An informative speech like our "How to take apart a carburetor" example becomes a persuasive speech when it becomes a speech like "Why it's a bad idea to take apart a carburetor", or "Why Holley carburetors are the best carburetors".
    • Overly argumentative speeches that attempt to persuade can actually turn your audience off. These types of speeches are termed polemical, meaning that they are inappropriately argumentative. There are places and times where it is appropriate to make a polemical speech; in the middle of an informative speech is not such a place nor time.

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