Quick Look: Speech
Speech determines the prices you get when buying and selling things, and determines your chances of success when attempting to persuade, bribe, or intimidate others. Speech perks also allows you to sell items to merchants who don't peddle those wares, invest in a shop to increase their available money, sell stolen items to merchants you've invested in, and even increase the money available to every merchant in the game.
Since Speech is pretty much all about making more money, a power-gamey build like the one advocated in this guide doesn't really need to spend any perks here. But let's not be hasty, you say, what about the story and quest sides of Speech? Well... sad to say that even with a Speech score of 100 there was not a single situation where a Speech option was possible that couldn't be overcome. Now, even with a score of 100 some characters will be unmoved by one attempt or another, but a character that isn't moved by a Persuade attempt might be Intimidated, or failing that, Bribed. Since every quest can be done without spending any perks, why bother wasting perks? You'll get enough money without blowing perks in the Speech skill, and improving your Persuade/Bribe/Intimidate chances aren't necessary.
There are really only two ways to level up Speech; succeed at Persuade/Intimidate/Bribe checks, or sell items. There are plenty of options to do the former throughout Skyrim, but aside from joining the Thieve's Guild, commiting minor crimes and getting caught, then bribing your way out of trouble is the only somewhat reliable way to grind them, and even that's limited.
Fortunately, you'll generate tons of loot to sell when you're performing the radiant quests for Vex and Delvin, and while you're leveling up the crafting skills. Just sell the items you steal or craft to Tonilia in the Thieve's Guild (preferably after completing some of the quests to upgrade the Thieve's Guild to increase her funds) to increase your Speech. Do so one item at a time, as this gets you more Speech experience than selling in bulk.
Note: If you want to get merchants to reset their stock without having to wait a few days, you can save your game, attack the merchant until they turn hostile (usually takes four hits for faction-related merchants - try not to kill them) then reload your game. Their inventory will have reset. Repeat as necesary.
|Revyn Sadri||Adept (Lv. 15 - 50)||Windhelm, Sadri's Used Wares|
|Dro'marash||Adept (Lv. 15 - 50)||Member of the wandering Khajiit caravan|
|Garvey||Expert (Lv. 51 - 75)||Markarth, The Warrens|
|Giraud Gemane||Master (Lv. 76 - 90)||Solitude, Bard's College|