Difference Between Oral Communication and Public Speaking

Mere things like buying vegetables or buying clothes involve communication; hence, it is a basic and important aspect of our lives.

The Latin word “communicare”, meaning “to share”, was abbreviated, which is now used in English literature as “communicate”. It is the act of developing meaning among groups with the proper use of signs and symbols.

Amongst types of communication, one is oral communication which is further categorized, and one of them is public speaking.

Oral Communication vs Public Speaking

The main difference between oral communication and public speaking is that; it is called oral communication when someone shares information, ideas, and thoughts verbally. In contrast to that, public speaking is a type of oral communication.


Oral communication is a process in which the speaker and the listener exchange or communicate verbally; in short, it gives immediate feedback.

But it is not always reliable as there is no legal evidence. The relationship here is mostly informal.

On the contrary, public speaking involves a live audience. It is a form of verbal communication that can either maintain a formal or informal relationship with the audience.

The talk or the speech has nothing to hide and hence is reliable.

Comparison Table Between Oral Communication and Public Speaking

Parameters of ComparisonOral communicationPublic speaking
DefinitionIt is a process where a speaker and listener communicate verbally.It is the same process but involves a live audience.
SignificanceTo communicate effectively and to set a tone.To inform and motivate people, and to win over the crowd.
DistortionComparatively less possibility of distortionHigh possibility of distortion.
LiteracyMight be illiterate.Not required at all
ToneGenerally formal.Generally informal.

What is Oral Communication?

Oral communication is a way of communicating verbally.

For one to share ideas, thoughts, and information, spoken words are used. Individuals conversing one on one, directly or over the telephone, is an example of oral communication.

It helps in defining reality, organizing ideas and experiences, and sharing them and also shapes our attitude towards the world. Oral communication is used in meetings or gatherings where an oral explanation is necessary and even when direct relation is mandatory.

It gives immediate feedback developing a relationship between the orator and the listener.

In most professional meetings, oral communication is recommended as it increases the level of understanding and also transparency, moreover builds trust.

There are five types of oral communication in-

  1. Elevator pitch
  2. Formal conversations
  3. Informal conversations
  4. Business presentations
  5. Speeches

Oral communication is time-saving as it allows an individual to convey thoughts and ideas directly.

It is a secure form of communication for discussing critical and confidential topics as there is a low risk of misunderstandings. One of the important advantages of oral communication is that it helps in resolving conflicts.

What is Public Speaking?

Public speaking often termed as oration, is a way of communicating verbally to a live audience.

It is a type of oral communication that was initially developed in Rome and Greece. The then prominent thinkers from these lands have greatly contributed to the development and evolution of public speaking.

The objectives of public speaking are diverse; the primary objective is to motivate, inform and educate the audience.

The secondary objective is to entertain.

The art of public speaking was termed as ‘rhetoric’ by the Greeks, and it was defined by Aristotle as ‘the faculty of discovering, in any case, using the available means of persuasion.

Public speaking plays a crucial role in the professional world as approximately 70% of jobs involve some or the other form of public speaking.

Good public speaking skills create opportunities and also augments the quality of personal and social life.

Saying proverbs is an important aspect of good public speaking skills as it helps to convey messages easier.

Walter J. Ong studied and identified distinctive ways of primary oral culture- expressions are coordinate, aggregative, and agonistically toned rather than subordinate, analytic, and co-operative.

Main Differences Between Oral Communication and Public Speaking

  1. Oral communication can be carried out with or without the presence of a live audience.
  2. In other words, it can be telephonic too. On the other hand, the main aspect of public speaking is the involvement of a live audience.
  3. Oral communication is generally professional and is preferred by professionals to set a tone and communicate efficiently, while public speaking’s purpose is to inform, motivate and convince people.
  1. Public speaking has a higher rate of distortion, i.e. a speaker may bluff just to convince the audience without letting them have any proof against him.
  2. On the contrary, oral communication being professional has a lower rate of distortion.
  3. Oral communication, in general, has no necessity of literacy; it may be illiterate, but there is no literacy barrier when it comes to public speaking.
  4. As public speaking involves a live audience, be it large or small, needs interaction and hence has an informal tone, while oral communication is mostly formal; it can be informal too.
Difference Between Oral Communication and Public Speaking


Oral communication and public speaking are often interchangeably used, which is a basic mistake, as public speaking is a type of oral communication yet has its own features differing from the former.

Public speaking involves a live audience that gives spontaneous and genuine feedback contradictory to oral communication; here, the feedback may or may not be genuine.

Public speaking literally means speaking to the public, involving a larger crowd as the literacy factor is eliminated. As the tone is informal, the audience is not intimidated and is able to put forth their view on the topic.

The audience for oral communication is comparatively low as it is generally confined to literate people, and hence it makes it easier to convey the thoughts.

Oral communication and public speaking have their own advantages and disadvantages, but one common thing is- for an individual to excel at either or both requires a lot of practice.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PpLYi2jbNB4C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=oral+communication&ots=_8_1_DmzAI&sig=gGQgy4aLd73syMJRALhMcJRfsnk
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