Spoken Communication: Analyzing the Rhetoric of Speeches Task

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Task Length: 45 minutes

Course: Business Communication 

Spoken Communication: Analyzing the Rhetoric of Speeches

Task Description

Standards

In this activity, students will select and watch a short speech and, using a worksheet, apply rhetorical criticism to identify the rhetorical decisions and elements that contribute to our understanding of the audience, purpose, and structure of the speech. After completing the worksheet, students will compose a response (approximately 150 words) in which they reflect on the importance of audience, purpose, and design when composing a speech or other speaking assignment.

 Business Communications (S15): Critique the purpose of various speaking assignments to identify the design and goal such as to inform, educate, convince, persuade, or lead to action.

 Content Understandings

Extending Understandings

Upon successful completion of these tasks students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify and define the basic elements of the rhetorical situation (purpose, stance, genre, etc.);
  • Identify and define rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos);
  • Apply rhetorical criticism by analyzing the rhetorical decisions and elements of a speech;
  • Compose a short response (150 words) in which they reflect on the rhetorical importance of a speech or speaking assignment.

 

To move students towards deeper understanding, they should be given opportunities to:

  • Expand their analysis to include stylistic elements (e.g., irony, metaphor, alliteration, assonance, epistrophe, etc.);
  • Compose their own short speech on a topic of their choice using both basic rhetorical elements and rhetorical appeals;
  • Write a detailed rhetorical analysis (3-4 pages double-spaced) of their speech in which they move beyond a broad evaluation of the speaker’s rhetorical decisions to an in-depth critique of the speaker’s rhetorical decisions and supporting their critique with a clear main claim and evidence.

Support Strategies

If students are struggling to access this task, additional supports and strategies could be employed as students are engaging with the task.

Key Terms

Sentence Frames

Scaffolded Questions

Rhetoric

 

 

 

 

Rhetorical criticism

 

 

 

 

Rhetorical situation

 

 

 

Ethos, pathos, logos

 

 

 

Audience

 

 

 

Purpose

When you sit down to write a speech, for example, you must always pay attention to how you use language to persuade, inform, educate, or entertain, in other words pay attention to your _____________.

 

You perform ________________, also known as rhetorical analysis, when you want to examine the characteristics and strategies that make a speech, video, image, song, advertisement, or essay persuasive within a certain set of circumstances.

 

Your age, gender, race, beliefs, socioeconomics, the place where and time when you live, etc. make up your __________________, or the circumstance in which you communicate.

 

There are three major rhetorical appeals: you use ___________ when you want to appeal to emotion; ______________ when you want to appeal to reason; and _____________ when you want to appeal to ethics or character.

 

The most successful speakers and writers tailor their messages and ideas of their _______________ by knowing its needs, values, and biases before sitting down to compose their speech or text.

 

When you ask why an individual has decided to address a particular topic or audience at a specific moment in time, you investigating the individual’s ______________.

What is rhetoric? Who typically uses rhetoric?

 

What are the different elements of a rhetorical situation?

 

Why is it important for us to understand the rhetorical situation of a text, speech, advertisement, etc. when we discuss and analyze it?

 

Why is audience arguably the most important element of a writer/speaker’s rhetorical situation?

 

Why would you want to perform a rhetorical criticism on a text, speech, advertisement, image, etc.? In other words, what’s the purpose?

Additional Resources

Teacher Instructional Materials (See Appendix)

“Analyze This! Rhetorical Criticism” Worksheet

 

Online Resources

Activity

SPOKEN COMMUNICATION: ANALYZING THE RHETORIC OF SPEECHES

Context:

This activity will follow an introductory lesson on rhetorical criticism in communication. Depending on class time, the lesson can be broken up into two parts or delivered at once. This activity will assess students’ basic content understanding of the purpose, audience, and elements of speeches and other speaking assignments.

Activity Steps:

  1. Each student will select a speech (each approximately 3-4 minutes in length) from a list provided by the instructor. Each speech will have a link to a video or audio recording.
  2. Once they’ve selected their speech, students will analyze the rhetorical decisions and elements (e.g., purpose, style, appeals, etc.) of the speech using the “Analyze This! Rhetorical Criticism” worksheet (see appendix).
  3. Students will complete the worksheet by both watching/listening to their selected speech. They should watch/listen to the speech at least twice before starting the worksheet.
  4. After completing the worksheet, students will need to compose a reflection (approximately 150 words) in which they reflect on the importance of understanding your audience, purpose, and design when composing a speech or other speaking assignment.
  5. The student will submit both the “Analyze This! Rhetorical Criticism” worksheet and 150-word reflection upon completing the activity.

Speeches for “Analyze This!” Activity

Students should choose one of the speeches from the below list for their “Analyze This!” activity.

  1. Emma Watson – United Nations Speech on Gender Equality – students only have to watch the first four minutes (HeForShe. (2014, Sept. 22). Emma Watson HeForShe Speech at the United Nations | UN Women 2014. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0Dg226G2Z8.)
  2.  Sarah Kay – “If I should have a daughter” (Femalegreatness. (2013, March 18). Great Speeches by Women: Sarah Kay, ‘If I should have a daughter. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx_d3bZCw58.)
  3. Independence Day movie speech (Speeches HD. (2016, June 24). “Independence DayPresident Speech [Full HD]. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_QSJyJaeD4.)
  4. Ellen’s People’s Choice Humanitarian Award Speech (E! Red Carpet & Award Shows. (2016, Jan. 6). The People’s Choice for Favorite Humanitarian is Ellen DeGeneres | E! People’s Choice Awards. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWtW1DjhO-Q.)
  5. Kid President – “A Pep Talk to Teachers and Students” (SoulPancake. (2013, Jan. 24). A Pep Talk from Kid President to You. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-gQLqv9f4o.)
  6. Donovan Livingston – Harvard Graduation Speech (ABC News. (2016, May 27). Harvard Graduate Speech Called ‘The Most Powerful’ EVER [FULL SPEECH]. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGb8ZfZl_IE.)   
  7. Kathleen Blanco – Address to the Louisiana Legislature on Hurricane Katrina – students only have to watch the first four minutes (Speeches. (2015, Jan. 6). Governor Kathleen Blanco D La Speech to a Joint Mtg of the La Legislature Governor Blanco Louis. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-u4vFLuzLM.)
  8. Amir Safi – “Ode to Whataburger” (Write About Now. (2015, Oct. 12). Amir Safi – An Ode to Whataburger @ WANPOETRY (TGS 2015). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WKQimdJsoc.)   

 

Appendix: Teacher Instructional Materials

“Analyze This! Rhetorical Criticism” Worksheet

Directions: Complete the worksheet on your selected speech.

WHAT

Identify the intended audience. Who makes up this audience? What are their expectations for this situation?

WHY

Why does the individual deliver their speech to this particular audience?

 

 

WHAT

What is the speaker’s purpose? To persuade? Inform? Criticize? Educate? Entertain? Something else?

WHY

Why does the speaker choose this purpose?

 

 

WHAT

Explain the rhetorical situation. What are the circumstances surrounding this speech? What specific factors (i.e. current controversies, political events, etc.) might affect how the audience receives the speech?

WHY

Why address this particular topic to this audience at this time?

 

 

WHAT

What’s the speaker’s message? What strategies do they use to convey that message?

WHY

Why does the speaker choose to deliver this message? Why use these strategies?

 

 

WHAT

What, if any, rhetorical appeals does the speaker use? Ethos? Pathos? Logos?

WHY

Why does the speaker use this appeal or a combination of appeals to deliver their message?

 

 

Student Resource

Click here to download the student resource for this task. 


"Analyze This! Rhetorical Criticism" Worksheet

Directions: Complete the worksheet on your selected speech.

WHAT

Identify the intended audience. Who makes up this audience? What are their expectations for this situation?

WHY

Why does the individual deliver their speech to this particular audience?

 

 

WHAT

What is the speaker’s purpose? To persuade? Inform? Criticize? Educate? Entertain? Something else?

WHY

Why does the speaker choose this purpose?

 

 

WHAT

Explain the rhetorical situation. What are the circumstances surrounding this speech? What specific factors (i.e. current controversies, political events, etc.) might affect how the audience receives the speech?

WHY

Why address this particular topic to this audience at this time?

 

 

WHAT

What’s the speaker’s message? What strategies do they use to convey that message?

WHY

Why does the speaker choose to deliver this message? Why use these strategies?

 

 

WHAT

What, if any, rhetorical appeals does the speaker use? Ethos? Pathos? Logos?

WHY

Why does the speaker use this appeal or a combination of appeals to deliver their message?