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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Length: 3-4 pages; double-spaced; MLA formatting

The purpose of this assignment is to analyze the rhetorical effectiveness of a TedTalk of your choice.

Because this is your personal assessment of the speech’s effectiveness, it is appropriate to use first person.

Please cite the speech that you choose. You are not required to use any other resources for this assignment, but if you choose to do so, you must cite them appropriately.

You may choose to focus on one rhetorical strategy or a combination. For instance, you may choose to focus on:

Structure: You are not required to follow this organizational structure, but it may help you to get started.


  • Introduce the speech by characterizing the speaker and the occasion.
  • Identify the audience and situation for which the speech is intended.
  • Describe the writer’s purpose. What does the writer want to achieve with this community upon this occasion?
  • What does he want these particular people to think and/or do?
  • Identify the rhetorical strategies that you have decided to discuss and indicate how they function to promote the author’s purpose in relation to the intended audience.

Body: The organization of your body paragraphs will depend on your focus.

Conclusion: Briefly summarize the main points of the analysis.

Role of Speaker

Informative Speakers Are Objective

Most public speaking texts discuss three general purposes for speeches: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. Although these general purposes are theoretically distinct, in practice, they tend to overlap. Even in situations when the occasion calls for an informative speech (one which enhances understanding),

often persuasive and entertaining elements are present. First, all informative speeches have a persuasive component by virtue of the fact that the speaker tries to convince the audience that the facts presented are accurate (Harlan, 1993). Second, a well-written speech can make even the most dry, technical information entertaining through engaging illustrations, colorful language, unusual facts, and powerful visuals.

Informative Speakers are Credible

An objective approach also enhances a speaker’s credibility. Credibility, or ethos, refers to an audience’s perception that the speaker is well prepared and qualified to speak on a topic (Fraleigh & Tuman, 2011). Peterson, Stephan, and White (1992) explain that there are two kinds of credibility; the reputation that precedes you

before you give your speech (antecedent credibility) and the credibility you develop during the course of your speech (consequent credibility). In many cases, the

audience has no prior knowledge of the speaker, so they make judgments about the quality of the evidence and arguments in the speech. In addition, they look at and listen to the speaker to determine if s/he is a reliable source of information.

Informative Speakers Are Knowledgeable

Good informative speeches contain a number of different source citations throughout the speech. To show that the information you present is accurate and

complete, these sources should be up-to-date, reliable, unbiased, and directly relevant to your topic. Even if you plan to give a speech about an activity you have done all of your life, you will still need to seek out additional sources for your speech. By all means, you should cite and use your own experiences with the topic, but

if you want to appear objective, you will need to show that your ideas and experiences correspond with others’. Using a variety of sound reference materials helps you appear well-informed and more trustworthy.

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