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COM 173: Historic Speeches: Assignment


Public Speaking

Historical Speech Analysis Paper

Analyze the text of a historical speech of your choice from the attached list and write a paper describing how the speech ‘solved the communication problem.”

First, please describe the problem that the speaker faces in accomplishing his or her goal(s) with the audience(s) that the speech will reach.

This requires that you conduct research to identify and provide evidence (cite your sources) of the:

(1) speaker’s goals;

(2) the audience(s), and the audience’s attributes that will affect how audience members will respond to the speaker’s call for action and/or argument to adopt a point of view. These attributes can include audience:

(a) attitudes and beliefs,

(b) interests and wants,

(c) emotions, and

(d) values.

These attributes will provide both opportunities for and challenges to the speaker achieving his or her goals. So it is important to note that describing the problem entails identifying the audience attributes (attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, wants, and emotions) that the speaker can tap into to get the audience to adopt the speaker’s positions as well as those attributes that will tend to work against the audience adopting the speaker’s advocacy.

Second, describe how the speaker solved this described “communication problem.” Identify how the speaker took advantage of the  opportunities presented by the audience attributes that inclined them to adopt the speaker’s goals and to mitigate or address the attributes that make the audience less likely to adopt the speaker’s advocacy position.

What choices did the speaker make to address the audience attributes? Consider the following elements of a speech:

  1. arguments;
  2. key messages;
  3. types of proof;
  4. sources cited:
  5. structure;
  6. language,
  7. style of delivery;
  8. and other elements we discuss in class.

Provide evidence within the speech itself to cite examples of the speaker’s strategic choices (those helping the speaker to achieve his/her goals) that address audience attributes.

Remember to please provide evidence about the speaker’s goals and the audience attributes and cite your sources.

  • Type up your analysis in 3-5 pages, double-spaced.
  • At the top of your first page list your name, the name of the speaker and the title of the speech. A cover page is not necessary.
  • You must use at least 3 sources for this assignment. More is fine, less if not. The speech itself – in any format, like print and video – is one source. You need at least two others, like a newspaper or scholarly article, book or other source that addresses the speech in some way. You must - at a minimum - provide sources to back up your identification of the speaker’s goals and the audience attributes
  • Cite your sources using MLA style, both within the paper and at the end on a Works Cited page. (See the MCC library home page for an MLA guide).

Below is the list of speeches from which you may choose for this assignment.

  1. Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”  and

Alfre Woodard:

  1. Nelson Mandela “I am the First Accused”

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. 

“I have been to the Mountaintop”

  1. John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

  1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Pearl Harbor:

  1. Barack Obama

“A More Perfect Union”

Speech to the Democratic National Committee 2004 and transcript

  1. Steve Jobs Commencement Address

  1. Ronald Reagan

“Address to Nation on the Challenger”

  1. Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Women’s Rights are Human Rights”

  1. Michelle  Obama

2016 Democratic National Convention Address

  1. Pres. Barack Obama

Farewell Address, Jan. 10, 2017