An English teacher from Germany writes to ask: 'Do you hold a speech or give a speech'. He adds: 'I could have sworn it was give, but people claim to have seen hold a speech in newspapers'.
Indeed you will - and on the internet too, as you'll quickly discover if you type hold a/the speech into a search engine. What's interesting about these cases is that an adverbial of place or time seems to be obligatory. It's usually a place adverbial:
Obama will hold acceptance speech at football stadium with more seats.
Students hold free speech rally at Danish consulate.
Canadians Hold Free Speech Rally in Toronto.
Merkel opposed the Obama campaign's initial plan to hold the speech at the Brandenburg Gate.
the decision to hold the speech at Invesco was made two months ago.
Sometimes it's a time adverbial:
Sayyed Nasrallah to Hold Speech on Resistance Day.
And sometimes it's both:
Professor David Ray Griffin will hold a speech on 8 September 2006 in the Tropeninstituut in Amsterdam.
By contrast, give a speech is the norm when the focus is non-specific or where the adverbial gives further information about the topic.
Mike gave an excellent speech.
She gave a speech on the environment.
And of course, we can add adverbials of place or time to this:
Mike gave an excellent speech on the environment on Friday last at the Planetarium.
So the generalization seems to be something like this: give a speech is the more general usage; but hold a speech can be used where the focus is explicitly on the event rather than on the subject-matter. Without this focus, I find the usage dubious:
Mike held an excellent speech.
I think I could only use this if I meant 'the arrangements Mike made for the speech were excellent' - analogous to 'Mike held a meeting to talk about the environment' , 'I held a party and nobody came' (The Bee Gees), and so on. I'd be interested to know if others share this feeling.