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What Exactly is Public Speaking and Debating

The difference is not like gray and grey but pretty wide.

Note: This article is a purely informative article that will discuss the differences between two speaking forms: Debating and Public Speaking. This article should act as a guide to save yourself from the embarrassment that I had to face.


Just yesterday one of my friends messaged, asking me the differences between Public Speaking and Debates. At first, I was confident that I’d be able to recite a whole speech in regard to this topic but my lips remained tightly shut -I had no answer. So to save yourself from such an embarrassment let’s explain the difference between these two widely used terms.

Yes, both do involve speaking but their structure is worlds apart.

Definitions of Speech and Debate:

A speech can be understood as a formal address in front of an audience. While a debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic between two sets of individuals who bear opposing views.

Characteristics of Speech and Debate:


A major difference is the number of participants involved. Speech is made by a single individual while in a debate, more than one person is involved.

Views:   A speech focuses on a single point of view. Whereas in a debate, contrary views are presented.

Exchange of Ideas:  In a speech, there is less room for an interactive process of exchanging ideas. In a debate, there is an exchange of ideas between the individuals, where they will attempt to disprove the views of the opposing team.



During a debate, there are two or more parties that both take turns in answering specific questions with arguments backed by research and facts. The primary objective of a debate is to convince the listeners to adopt one point of view over another, to convince them to embrace your stance on a subject matter.


A speech could be informative, educative, inspirational, motivational, or a combination of those options. During a speech, there is one speaker who strives to communicate to one audience. The speaker knows what she wants to achieve, and hopefully, the audience gets it. The audience or a third party doesn’t get to talk back or object to anything the speaker says.

Speech vs Debate (THE FINAL SHOWDOWN)

Although both debate and speech can be viewed as formal addresses made in front of an audience, there is a key difference between these two types of address. First, let us comprehend the basic idea behind each word. A speech is a formal talk that is made in front of a group of people and is made by a single individual, in which he expresses his thoughts, ideas, and views. Speeches take place in different settings. A debate, on the other hand, is also a formal address that involves more than one individual.

The key difference between a speech and a debate is that while in a speech an individual expresses his ideas, in a debate it is an exchange of two opposing views in the form of a discussion. Through this article let us examine the difference between a speech and a debate in depth.

Exchanging of ideas occurs in both eyes but is that really it?

What is a Speech? (The real question)

A speech can be understood as a formal address in front of an audience. When a speech is being made, the speaker presents his ideas, thought, and points of view on a single topic to an audience. This is one-sided because only a single point of view is being shared. Speeches take place in various settings. For example, in political campaigns, in schools and universities, various speakers present their ideas.

A speech can be informative because it can provide knowledge to the audience regarding a specific topic. For instance, when experts of various disciplines make speeches they provide new insight to the listener. Also, a speech can raise awareness about much needed social problems in the society as well. For instance, speeches on sexual violence, AIDS, and global warming raise the awareness of the general public. A debate, however, is a bit different to a speech.

What is a Debate? (The real question part [2])

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic between two sets of individuals who bear opposing views. Unlike in the case of a speech where a single opinion is presented, in a debate, we can hear different opinions about a single topic. A debate can even be understood as an elaborate form of argument that takes place in front of an audience, where the individuals prove their stance and make an attempt to disprove the opposing stance.

Debates take place in different settings such as in the parliament, public assemblies, meetings, etc. The special feature of a debate is that it contains more conflicting information on a topic, rather than a single point of view. This highlights that although both speech and debate are formal addresses, there are differences between these two varieties.

Tip: Using hand gestures is suitable in both speaking forms because it helps convey meaning.

I hope that this article acts as a guide for you and you are able to save yourself from an embarrassment you needn’t go through and end up not having a needless argument with your friend about the petty differences between these two speaking forms. You can thank me later.


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