Public Speaking and Presentation

Difference Between Public Speaking And Interpersonal Communication

You’ve probably heard the terms public speaking and interpersonal communication more than a few times. However, you may not have stopped to think about what the difference between them is. This piece will discuss the difference between public speaking and interpersonal communication, how you can distinguish them, and what situations you’ll need to be proficient in one or both of them.

What Is Public Speaking?

Public speaking can refer to various scenarios, but the term usually points to live presentations given in front of a vast audience. These types of presentations may be for business-related events such as awards ceremonies, sales strategy meetings, and motivational classes. Public speaking events often happen in the educational field as well.

There are four main types of public speaking: ceremonial, demonstrative, persuasive, and informative.

The speaker in an informative type of presentation has a primary goal of giving someone information. Teachers, instructors, healthcare advocates, and even career fair workers would carry out this particular public speaking event.

During their presentation, they would provide information to help the audience understand how they can benefit from a product, service, job, or something else. During a healthcare presentation, the speaker may attempt to arouse awareness about a disease, disorder, or medication product.

persuasive type of public speaking event is one where the speaker tries to convince the audience to take an action. Charitable organizations may hold this kind of event to convince people to donate to a specific cause.

Spiritual preachers and teachers would likely carry out this type of public speaking event to persuade the listeners to accept a religious perspective and take action.

Political campaigns are often very persuasive as well. The politician gets on stage and tells potential voters why he or she will be the best person to hold the office of choice. The individual also explains the plans they have for changing things for the better.

demonstrative public speaking event explains how a process or product works. Someone who creates or develops a new piece of technology might hold a public speaking event like this.

ceremonial public speaking event is where the speaker performs a ritual and speaks to the guests in the crowd. A wedding is a perfect example of a ceremonial event, and a religious ceremony is another.

What Is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication refers to a conversation between at least two people, and their interaction can be verbal or non-verbal. The most common type of interpersonal communication is face-to-face discussion.

However, many people engage in interpersonal communication through other means such as video chatting, emailing, voice calls, texting, etc. Interpersonal communication exists for many reasons. One reason it exists is to help people build and maintain relationships and bonds. Other reasons for interpersonal relationships are to teach, learn, support, and connect.

Human Communication vs Public Speaking

Human communication is another name for interpersonal communication. It differs from public speaking because it’s more isolated and personalized. However, people sometimes use both forms of communication to accomplish some of the same goals.

They want to exchange thoughts, stories, and ideas with other people. Human communication situations involve talking to another person, while some public speaking events involve talking at other people.

How Does Public Communication Differ From Interpersonal Communication?

These are some of the top differences between public speaking and interpersonal communication:

The Number of People Differs

The most significant difference between public speaking and interpersonal communication is the number of people involved. Interpersonal communication usually involves only two people, and public speaking events generally revolve around large groups of 100 people or more.

While more than two people can engage in interpersonal communication, the number generally is much smaller than those at public speaking events.

Intimacy Level Is Greater in Interpersonal Communication

The intimacy level is much greater in interpersonal communication than in a public speaking setting. Two individuals having interpersonal communication can spend more time with one another to express their ideas or provide information.

A tutoring situation is an example of interpersonal communication instead of a more broad auditorium-held general lesson. The student can ask the teacher questions and receive more elaborate and personalized answers. A higher level of assistance may be available as well.

Public Speaking Events Are Longer

Public speaking events are usually much longer than interpersonal communications. An interpersonal communication can last anywhere from several minutes to an hour, whereas public speaking eventually normally lasts several hours.

More Casual

Most public speaking events have a professional nature, meaning the speaker carries himself or herself in a business-like manner. Some speakers may use a tinge of humor to liven up the event, but the overall tone is eloquent.

Interpersonal communications tend to have more freedom and leeway. These discussions can be much more casual and laid-back discussions meant for large crowds.

The Difference Between Interpersonal and Mass Communication

Non-verbal forms of interpersonal communication can be used with large groups of people. These types of relations are called mass communications.

An example of mass communication is when someone sends an email out to an entire team or company. Mass communication can occur using text messaging as well, and the biggest difference is the number of message recipients.

Other types of mass communication include television, the internet, social media, digital media, and more. The idea is that one person or entity communicates with masses of people.

Why Interpersonal Communication Is Important

Interpersonal communication is a crucial skill because it’s paramount in many areas of life. The workplace, for example, is an area where people need to have a large number of skills in interpersonal communication.

Leadership persons and individuals who deal with the customers more than others will be the ones who need to have most of these abilities. They’ll have to be versatile enough to relate to various personalities to carry out commands, express goals and mission statements, delegate tasks, and more.

Individuals who communicate with customers need to understand their needs and help them find the most suitable products and services.

Relationships are stronger when the two people involved in them also have amazing interpersonal communication skills. When these skills are high, they have more understanding and less confusion and misinterpretations. Good communication skills are the foundation for success in any personal relationship, including family ties, romantic relationships, friendships, and more.

You should now have the clarity you need to understand the difference between public speaking and interpersonal communication. You can now better understand how each type of communication fits into your life and how you can improve your current skills.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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