Speaking With Style

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13935

You talk to your mom while you eat breakfast; you talk to your friend about your favorite movie; then you give a speech in class. Did you know that each of these is a different style of speech?


Verbal Communication, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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The video below is from the 2017 National Public Speaking Competition. As you listen to the young woman's speech on love, think about her speech style.

  • How is it different from other situations in which she talks to people?

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When you give a speech, such as Jacinda did above, you use a way of speaking called formal speech.

A presentation like this aims to inform, entertain, or persuade an audience. We use a formal speech on these occasions to make a good impression on those who will evaluate our efforts.

  • What other kinds of speech are there?

Frozen Speech

frozen window pane

It might surprise you that there's a type of speech that is even more formal than formal speech. This type is called frozen speech.

Frozen speech is not the way the characters in the movie Frozen speak. It's called frozen because it remains unchanged. It's used in ceremonies, prayers, oaths, pledges, etc.

The Pledge of Allegiance is an example of frozen speech. Although you have probably said it often, take a moment to listen closely to it in the video below.

  • How is it different from other forms of speech?

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  • The pledge has a fixed wording that is always repeated, but what else did you notice?

The Pledge of Allegiance:

  • has a slower pace
  • clearly and distinctly enunciates (pronounces) each word
  • pauses in specific places: "I pledge allegiance (pause) to the flag (pause)..."

Professional Speech

student and teacher talking

Professional speech falls between casual and formal ways of speaking. It's used between students and teachers, bosses and employees, doctors and patients, etc.

This kind of speech is more relaxed and friendly than formal, but it is still more respectful and distant than casual or intimate speech.

For example, we usually don't use slang, as we would with friends, or use a nickname like we might with a close friend, brother, or sister.

Listen in on a conversation between a teacher and her students in the video below. Notice how the teacher is friendly but professional when speaking to her class.

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Casual Speech

friends talking

We use much more casual language when speaking with peers, classmates, and friends. We may not speak as distinctly as we would in professional or formal speech.

For example, we might say, "I'm gonna..." instead of "I'm going to..." We're also more likely to use slang like "What's up, dude?" instead of "How are you?"

Intimate Speech

son and father playing

When they're alone, close friends and family members speak to each other differently from how they speak in public.

For example, a mom may say, "I love you, sweetie-pie!" at home, but she probably would not say it exactly like that in public!

Now that you know the different types of speech, you're ready to match examples of speech to different situations in the Got It? section!

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