People seldom speak in public unless they have some purpose in mind something they wish to accomplish. A purpose can be complex, privet, and psychological. With respect to the public work performed by public speaking, scholars called reroricians have been working to identify major types of purposes for over two thousand years. Aristotle, who lived about 2,400 years ago, near the end of a great era of civilization called the Golden age of Greece, divided purposes into three forms: forensic, deliberative, and ceremonial. The forensic purpose, enacted in speeches before the Athenian courts, satisfied the needs of the justice system. These speeches were concerned largely with past events and with the guilt and innocence of individuals. The deliberative purpose was fulfilled in speeches before the assembly dealing with the formation of public policy. How the future might be shaped and controlled was the business of such speeches. The ceremonial purpose was satisfied by speeches that celebrated what it meant to be an Athenian-an equivalent modern form might be a Fourth of July oration.
By identifying three basic forms of purpose: speeches that inform listeners, speeches that persuade them, and ceremonial speeches given on special occasions. To help you form your purpose-to find and develop an appropriate topic and theme for your speech-we offer suggestions.