Write a rhetorical speech analysis essay that effectively argues your position on the prompt and presents evidence from the texts as support.

Write a rhetorical speech analysis essay that effectively argues your position on the prompt and presents evidence from the texts as support. Have the ability to recognize different rhetorical strategies and how they contribute to effective writing.


Now that you have a better understanding of the power of rhetoric to influence/convince a reader, we will look at the way rhetorical strategies are also used with speech. The purpose of this assignment is to listen to a speech, which just like the article and image we analyzed, presents an argument, and analyze the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of this argument.


Course SLOs Addressed:

Student will organize ideas in well-developed, coherent, and stylistically sophisticated analytical essays.

Student will apply logical reasoning to identify and evaluate authors’ use of rhetorical techniques, participate in critical thinking class discussions and activities, and compose clearly organized and effectively argued written analyses of those texts.

Student will discuss a variety of argumentative and analytical assignments and demonstrate the effective use of rhetorical strategies and an awareness of style.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis:

To begin, let us define what a rhetorical analysis is NOT. A rhetorical analysis is not a summary of a literary work or scholarly article. You may have analyzed a novel’s plot line or taken apart the meaning of Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy in Hamlet before; however, trying to understand the meaning of a work or summarize a story is NOT the goal of a rhetorical analysis! Now that we’ve declared the most common mistake among rhetorical analysis papers, let’s begin dissecting what a rhetorical analysis does ask you to do.


Definition: A rhetorical analysis requires you to apply your critical reading skills in order to “break down” a text. In essence, you break off the “parts” from the “whole” of the piece you’re analyzing. The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to articulate HOW the author writes, rather than WHAT they actually wrote. To do this, you will analyze the strategies the author uses to achieve his or her goal or purpose of writing their piece. Keep in mind that writers of different disciplines often use varying writing strategies in order to achieve their goals. So, it is okay to analyze a scientific article a different way than you would a humanities writer. These authors have very different goals in mind, and thus will use different writing strategies.


How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis:

First, you’ll need to come up with your own thesis for your rhetorical analysis. What point do you want to make about the author’s rhetorical choices? Do the author’s rhetorical strategies make his/her article a strong argument? A weak one?

After identifying your thesis, try to arrange the rhetorical strategies you’ve identified in a logical way. For example, you could start by identifying the purpose of the intended audience and why the author chose to write about their topic. Next, you could identify specific stylistic choices, such as word choice, formal/informal language, etc. The idea is to logically transition from analyzing one rhetorical strategy to another. Stay on topic with the strategies that the author uses often and actually has a purpose for using.check box

With each point you make, have a strong topic sentence declaring the overall purpose of the rhetorical strategies you are about to discuss. This will help identify the argument you are making, transition your ideas, and add fluidity.

Keep in mind that while authors use different strategies to achieve their purposes, you also need to be making points and evaluations about these strategies, not simply summarizing them. For example, instead of simply stating the author uses formal language in his essay, state what effect is created by using formal language. By doing this you are not only identifying the rhetorical strategy, by analyzing its purpose. 5. As with all academic writing, check for grammar, transitional ease, fluidity, and a logical argument. Proofread, proofread, proofread!



Required Research/Readings:

Politics and political speeches are a place where we can really see rhetoric and rhetorical strategies at work. Politicians are trying to convince us of something, and the language they use is very purposeful and targeted. As we write this essay, we are approaching one of the biggest elections of our lifetimes. With that, I think it is important for us to be able to look at speeches given my the potential candidates and be able to analyze them for their effectiveness and credibility. It makes us better critical thinkers and more informed voters.


Here are four samples of political speeches given during this election cycle: It is important that you have the transcript open while you view the speech, so you can take notes an highlight areas you’d like to use as evidence.


Joe Biden Speech Transcript ActionsPreview the document

Video of Joe Biden’s Speech (Links to an external site.)

Links to an external site. Download Links to an external site.Donald Trump Speech TranscriptActionsPreview the document

Video of Trump’s Speech (Links to an external site.)

Links to an external site. Download Links to an external site.Kamala Harris Speech TranscriptActionsPreview the document

Video of Kamala Harris Speech (Links to an external site.)

Links to an external site. Download Links to an external site.Mike Pence Speech Transcript ActionsPreview the document

Video of Mike Pence Speech (Links to an external site.)


4-6 pages, not counting the required Works Cited page.



For this assignment, you will write an essay in which you evaluate the ONE of the speaker’s arguments. This, of course, does NOT mean that you should agree or disagree with the speaker; instead, you will provide a deep analysis of the rhetorical strategies the speaker uses to convince his specified audience of his point.


You will need to restate their thesis/argument in your own words and from then on, show how they did an effective or ineffective job at convincing the audience (meaning you have to identify the audience). Identify the argument and audience in your introduction. Then, write your own thesis, which should state whether the presented argument is effective or not and why (the why will be based on how well or not well the authors used the rhetorical strategies you read about), and then, spend the body paragraphs focusing on the different strategies and how they are being used.


Of course, you may/should also consider logical fallacies, but remember that these are false logic, so the author wouldn’t use them; he or she would commit them. The key here is to keep the words “effective” and “ineffective” in your mind (strategies used well make the argument more effective while strategies used badly or logical fallacies committed make the argument ineffective). You are not arguing about the topic at hand; you are arguing whether or not the authors wrote their article well.


You are analyzing the way the author presented his or her argument to argue whether it is an effective or ineffective argument.


In order to analyze the argument, you will consider the author’s use of:







Logical Fallacies


Types/Strength of evidence


*Remember that the author can use one rhetorical strategy effectively while failing to use others effectively. I suggest focusing on one strategy per body paragraph.


Further Directions:

You will need to:


Point out any instances where the author used one of these elements by providing a quote from the text.

Comment on whether or not the author did so well/whether the use of this strategy contributed to effectiveness of his or her argument and how. You don’t want to just say that the author used the strategy well; you have to explain why or how that is.

You do NOT have to address each of these elements, but you must pick a minimum of THREE (3). Each of the three can be presented in its own separate paragraph or you may combine any as you see fit.



Introduction (including a hook, background information about the article, the author’s thesis and his audience and your thesis). Remember that your thesis should be the last sentence of the introduction, and it should argue whether your chosen text is effective and why. You don’t want to argue about the issue of the text; instead, argue how well the text was written and refer to the strategies you see.

Sample thesis: Overall, Greg Lukianoff developed an effective argument in his article “Coddling of the American Mind” through his impressive use of logos and ethos; however, his use of pathos could be improved, and he commits a clear ad hominem fallacy.

A minimum of 3 body paragraphs (including examples from the text as well as your analysis of effectiveness).

Ideally, each body paragraph will focus on a specific strategy or fallacies. In the topic sentence, you will name the strategy or fallacy. Then, you will give examples (preferably 2) from the text where the author is using the strategy or committing the fallacy. Lastly, you will explain/analyze for your reader how that strategy makes the argument stronger or how the fallacy weakens the argument.

Conclusion, restating the thesis and providing a sense of finality.



Joe Biden Speech TranscriptActions

Donald Trump Speech TranscriptActions

Kamala Harris Speech Transcript Actions

Mike Pence Speech Transcript Actions



Complete Writing Tasks: Complete your weekly Writing Tasks first then come back to write your first draft.

Write your first draft: Following the guidelines above and write a 4 to 5 page draft.

Submit to 2 places in the classroom:


Submit your draft here

Post it on the Week 6 Peer Review Board. If your draft is not there by Monday, you will not receive a partner.

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Write a rhetorical speech analysis essay that effectively argues your position on the prompt and presents evidence from the texts as support.

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