speech purpose

Be clear on your speech purpose

by Elizabeth Toohig
in Blog
Comments are off for this post.
Being clear about your speech purpose ensures that you will create positive change when you speak. Will your audience leave your talk inspired, educated, persuaded or entertained? This article uses the analogy of a pizza to explore four core purposes of a speech and how you can combine these. When you have a clear speech purpose you are more likely to get your listeners to think or act in a different way.

What’s your speech purpose?

Generally, the speech purpose of any talk falls into one of the following:

  • inform / educate
  • inspire / motivate
  • entertain
  • persuade

Inform / educate

With this speech purpose you want your audience to learn something or develop a skill. This could either be something new or going into more depth. Teaching and briefings are examples of this time of speech purpose. TED talks are another great example of this type of talk.  Furthermore, TED speakers are selected because they have ‘ideas worth spreading’.

Motivate / Inspire

Using this speech purpose you want people to  achieve their goals, ideals or realise their potential. While some see the words are synonymous there is a difference. You motivate people when you provide them with a motive or reason to do something. Whereas, to inspire people you provide them with the desire or ability to do or feel something.


In our world today we crave entertainment in every aspect of our life. If your purpose is for your audience have fun, enjoy and to be amused this would be your speech purpose. Comedians are at one end of this spectrum. However, you can entertain without being a stand-up comedian or having your audience laughing out loud.


Your speech purpose is persuasion when you want to influence the thinking or behaviour of your listeners. In history there are countless examples of people changing beliefs, taking action and supporting those who have mastered the art of using their words to persuade.

There is much written about how you need to be clear about having one speech purpose. I believe that the most successful speakers today successfully combine all of the above. Moreover, creating a ‘speech pizza’ allows you to clearly identify your speech purpose and to then add aspects of the other areas to help you achieve your objective.

Speech pizza

Think of your speech purpose as a pizza. All base and no topping would be boring! Equally just having all the toppings and no base would be hard to eat. Just as a talk without a core purpose leaves the audience confused about what the speaker wants them to know or do.

First of all you need the base; your primary purpose. It needs to be part of every slice of the pizza. On top of the pizza dough is a layer of tomato; the theme of your speech. Then you need the toppings; they add interest, variety and keep the audience engaged.

For example, when I speak about my TREAT™ process my speech purpose is to inform / educate my audience. I want them to learn how they can create and deliver a great talk. This is my pizza base. My theme is my TREAT™ process; the tomato paste. To avoid my talk becoming a dull and dry lecture I entertain the audience with anecdotes of how  I developed the process. I seek to motivate / inspire them through practical activities and client stories that by using the TREAT™ process they will be able to achieve their own personal or business goals. Throughout my talk I try to gently persuade them to think about speaking in a new way and to try out my method when they next speak.

Making your pizza

  1. Select your base

    Decide on your core purpose. Will you inform/ educate, motivate / inspire, persuade or entertain? To help make sure you have the right purpose consider the aspects of the Reason part of my TREAT™ process.

  2. Add a layer of tomato paste

    Be clear about the theme of your talk. Like a good tomato paste condense your theme down. The Thought part of my  TREAT™ process.

  3. Add the toppings

    Bits of the other speech purposes. Will your stories, anecdotes and examples entertain, motivate or inspire? Are you using persuasive language? What knowledge or wisdom can you share? Spreading these throughout your speech will maintain interest levels and make your content digestible and enjoyable to your audience.

  4. Cut into slices

    Each part of your talk is like a slice of pizza. The base is there, the tomato paste is there and there is a mixture of toppings!

Create a unique pizza every time you talk.  As a result your audience will enjoy it, be clear on your speech purpose and message.  In addition every listener will be more likely to take away one golden nugget that enables them to make a positive change.

Would you like some help or support with making your pizza? Click here to book a free 15 minute consultation to see how I would be able to help you.


Share this article

Comments are closed.