The Difference Between Speeches, Remarks and Presentations — And How to be Great at All of Them 

So you’ve been asked to give a speech. Or was it “remarks”? And what’s the difference, anyway? Here at Spring Green Communications, we are experts at drafting speeches and remarks for our clients — oh, and presentations, too. Here’s what you need to know if you’re asked to deliver any of them. 


WHAT IT IS: A speech is the most formal of these three types of public speaking, and it tends to be the longest and most carefully scripted. Speeches are often given to an external audience on a planned occasion, and they frequently cover “big ideas” about which you or your company are considered experts. 


  • Consider your audience, the venue and the occasion before you get started. Your communications team should track down answers to logistical questions in advance. 
  • Will there be a podium and microphone (and what kind of mic)? Will there be water available? Will the speech be livestreamed or recorded?  
  • What are the main points you need to hit?  
  • What’s your time limit? For most people, a 10-minute speech will run about 1,500 words. 
  • Practice. Read it aloud in a normal cadence to make sure you’re comfortable and it sounds like you. 
  • Will there be time for questions? If so, consider “planting” a question with an audience member to get the session started. 
  • Have a printout of the speech in large font, because technology sometimes fails.


WHAT IT IS: Remarks tend to be shorter than speeches and more informal. You may be introducing someone else, or giving or receiving an award. 


  • You can SOUND impromptu, but you should BE scripted and in your intended “voice.” Don’t let the informality fool you — you need to prepare in advance. 
  • Again, consider the venue. Will you need to climb up to a podium and back down again? Make sure the space is accessible if this will be a challenge. 
  • Two minutes of remarks is only about 250-300 words, so make them count. 
  • Consider putting your main points on a notecard in case you lose track of your thoughts — but don’t read straight from the cards! 


WHAT IT IS: A presentation typically uses slides to make a specific point for both internal and external audiences. It can be long or short — but it gives you the opportunity to draw in (or lose) your audience visually. 


  • Don’t just slap your words onto a few PowerPoint slides and call it a day. We work with clients to design slides that are visually appealing but don’t allow the audience to read ahead. 
  • Both the words and the visuals must be scripted to fit your intended voice. 
  • What’s your point? Make sure you have a beginning, middle and end so your audience can follow your story. 
  • Will you be advancing the slide deck yourself, or will someone else be doing it on your cue? Your comms team can find this out for you. They should also work with the event organizers to download your presentation and run through it in advance at the venue. 
  • How big is the room? Will your slides be visible to everyone in the room? Will any video clips you want to drop in be both seen and heard?

If this sounds like a lot of work, well, we won’t lie: It is! But if you want to make a name for yourself and your company, you need to get comfortable telling your story in an intentional way in all sorts of settings and to a wide variety of audiences. We have experience with all these types of storytelling, so if you need help putting together a speech, presentation or remarks, reach out. Together, we can tell your story. 

by Donna Gorman