Persuasive Speech Analysis

The purpose of this assignment is to better understand the fundamentals of established, powerful, effective persuasive speakers by examining a speech that they have given. In addition to exploring the historical circumstances that led to the speech, you will be looking at the delivery, organizational, and persuasive techniques that can be found in the speech.

First, choose a public speech to examine. You can find thousands of speeches here in the American Rhetoric Database (, and you must chose one that has a video to be able to fully answer the questions on delivery. You are free to choose a speech that you find most interesting, but the speech must be given by a real person (not a movie speech) and students are not allowed to use the I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. (even though it is an amazing speech, it has been over-analyzed throughout the years.)

Once you have chosen a speech, you will write a 3 to 4 page paper discussing the following:
1.Historical significance of the speech. Discuss the circumstances that led to the speech being given. Why was this the appropriate time to give this particular speech? Why did this person give this speech? Who was the intended audience, and how was it received?

2.Delivery Techniques. What kinds of nonverbal and verbal behaviors is the speaker engaging in, and how does it contribute to the effectiveness of the speech? Is the delivery style that the speaker used effective? Could he or she have been more effective with their body language to better engage their audience? What kind of persona does the speaker project?

3.Organization Techniques. Review the organizational patterns and information on speech outlining in your book (pages 339-343). Talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the way this speech is organized. Include comments on the introduction, body, conclusion, transitions, etc. Was this speech well organized and easy to follow? Did the organization contribute to the audiences overall understanding/interest in the speech?

4.Persuasive Techniques. Discuss how the rhetorical proofs are used in this speech (ethos, pathos, and logos) and provide specific examples. Which of these proofs is used the most in this speech? Is it effective?

Your analysis should be thorough and specific. Directly reference the text of the speech that you have chosen to support your analysis. You will need to find information about the history surrounding your speech, and you are expected to conduct college level research. You are not permitted to use Wikipedia as a source or to copy and paste information from any source. The paper should be 3-4 pages (typed), 1 in margins, double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, with no cover page required. You must cite the source(s) of your historical significance section and the course textbook both in the body of the paper and a works cited page using MLA formatting. When saving your document, include your last name and the assignment, and save as either a Microsoft Word file (.doc or .docx) or a Rich Text File (.rtf).

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