Depending on the instructions you have received for working with your speech, it may be relevant to put it into perspective by relating it to something else, perhaps to highlight similarities or call attention to interesting differences. There are several different approaches to putting a speech into perspective, and we will list some of the most common ones below.

Thematic perspective

The most common way to put a speech into perspective is to focus on the general topic or theme that the speech covers. You can explore the speech from a thematic perspective in various ways.

One option is to compare the speech to another text on the same topic (typically another speech, but it might also be a newspaper article, essay, blog post, or similar). It could be another speech by the same speaker, but it could also be a speech by someone else. For example, if you are working with a political speech, it may be interesting to contrast it with a speech by someone on the other end of the political spectrum. This might reveal interesting differences in the speeches’ approaches, especially when it comes to controversial topics such as immigration or healthcare.

Another option is to relate the speech to an ongoing debate in society concerning the topic. Instead of comparing it to another text, you can relate the speech to the general debate on the topic, and consider how it contributes to that debate.

For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963 can be related to the general struggles of the American civil rights movement - both because this is one of the topics of the speech, and because the speech is itself a reaction to certain developments in the fight for civil rights.

Stylistic perspective

If you like to work with the more technical aspects of rhetoric, such as a speaker’s use of stylistic and rhetorical devices, it may be interesting to use these factors when you put the speech into perspective. In this case, you will typically compare your speech to another speech (which may be on a completely different topic), looking at interesting differences or similarities in terms of style and rhetoric.

For example, many interesting points can be made by contrasting the stylistic and rhetorical features of a speech by Barack Obama with a speech by Donald Trump, as both politicians have distinct rhetorical styles. In particular, Obama is known for employing a range of carefully considered rhetorical devices, while Trump typically has a more straightforward style that can make his words come across as more improvised and spontaneous.

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