Speech analysis

In this guide we will help you analyze a speech or an address. The focus of such an analysis is usually to study the rhetorical aspects of the speech, such as how the speaker delivers her message and tries to convince her audience. 

In the first section of the guide, you can read about how to describe the rhetorical situation of a speech, including aspects such as circumstances, sender, audience, medium and topic(s). It is useful to be aware of these factors, as they can help lay the groundwork for your analysis.

Next, you can read about how to make a detailed analysis of the language and presentation of the speech, considering such elements as composition, stylistic and rhetorical devices, modes of persuasion, argumentation and delivery.

Following the analysis section, you can read about how to use the elements of your analysis to make conclusions about the intention of the speech. This will help you make insightful points about both what the speaker is trying to achieve and how she achieves it.

In case you have been asked to do further work on your speech after finalizing your analysis, we will also offer some advice for assessing speeches or putting them into perspective.

You can also read about various types of speeches, such as a victory speech, inaugural address, state of the union address and TED Talk.


You can read a short excerpt from our analysis guide below:

Choice of words

The choice of words in the speech can have a significant effect on how it is received. For example, it may be interesting to consider whether the words in the speech tend towards positive, negative or neutral connotations. Many topics can be framed completely differently depending on the chosen words. For example, the topic of ‘youth’ may be presented quite differently depending on whether the speaker uses phrases like “the best time of your life” or “a living hell of uncertainty”. Furthermore, the choice of words may affect the general style of the speech (see above).

When you analyze the choice of words in a speech, it may be interesting to consider the distribution of word classes. A large number of adjectives and adverbs can help pull the tone of the speech in a positive or negative direction, because these word classes have strong powers of description. For example, if a speech refers to tax increases for the rich as “fair” and “justified”, it gives a completely different impression than if words such as “unfair” and “unjust” had been used.


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Speech analysis

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