How to Write and Format a Speech Analysis Essay (With Example)
When your professors ask you to write a speech analysis, most of them want references for the judgments, reasons, and arguments on which your analysis is based. These usually come from the course’s textbook. Below, I have referenced the Beebe’s Introduction to Public Speaking textbook on how to write an effective speech analysis:
- As in all papers, the analysis must include an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Start your introduction paragraph with an attention-getter or hook.
- Make sure your introduction includes a thesis sentence or purpose and previews the main points covered in the body.
- State the type of speech being analyzed and where it took place.
- Be specific.
- Make informed judgments and critiques of the speech.
- Make smooth transitions from paragraph to paragraph.
- Perform a grammar and spelling check.
Use these tips and the sample essay below as an example only. I have submitted this essay on a speech by Elie Wiesel for a writing assignment, and it could be detected on turnitin.com or another plagiarism tracker.
Speech Analysis Essay (Example)
To listen to the speech analyzed in this essay and read the official transcript, visit Elie Wiesel Buchenwald's Speech at American Rhetoric. Citations in this essay follow MLA format.
The following paragraph is the introduction to the analysis. It starts with a hook ("a passionate speech reminding the world of a horrific incident in history"), and it states where the speech took place. The introduction includes a thesis sentence (shown here in bold). It previews the main points covered in the body:
In the year 2009, at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, former prisoner Elie Wiesel delivered a passionate speech reminding the world of a horrific incident in history. His purpose was to commemorate the lives lost at the Buchenwald camp during the torture and extermination of its prisoners over half a century ago. My analysis will focus on how Wiesel used the strategies of storytelling, intonation, articulation, pause, quotation, and redundancy to engage and maintain his audience’s interest, as well as evoke their sympathy. Utilizing the three major divisions of a speech, his introduction captured the audience’s attention; the body presented his position; and his conclusion summarized the theme he wanted to portray (Beebe 13).
The next sections form the body of the analysis. They include specific details from the speech throughout, and they make informed judgments and critiques of the speech. Transitional sentences such as "As the speech moved . . . " ensure a smooth flow between the paragraphs:
Wiesel opened his speech with a humble and clear tone—loud enough to be audibly heard, yet soft enough to portray the deep pain he still felt as he told the story of how his father called his name just before dying in the bunk bed above him. He explained that he was too afraid to go to his father’s deathbed for fear the German guards would see him. His opening story of his father’s death was a powerful attention-grabber (Beebe 189, 14). He also paused to add effect and used short, simple sentences in his introduction and throughout the speech to allow his audience to visualize his experience without any abstractions (Beebe 134,137).
Without overloading the audience with long descriptive details of his horrific experience, he enabled them to feel his pain and perceive his honesty. He does not shy away from remorseful words of recollection, either (Beebe 19, 79). Using these tactics combined with direct eye contact, Wiesel stood erect before the audience with his hands held loosely together in a humble display of character and integrity (Beebe 142-143).
To ensure a warm reception, Wiesel assessed his audience and appropriately referenced the current German Chancellor’s civic contribution and President Obama’s earlier speech on humanity (Beebe 43). He challenged the world’s claim of having learned from the historical atrocities of the past by referencing victims in Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia, selecting the examples that best suited his theme (Beebe 97, 118). Wiesel spoke with an intonation of measurable staccato, in addition to pausing to emphasize his dissatisfaction with what people have purportedly learned. In perfect pitch, he asked the crowd, “Will the world ever learn?” (Beebe 190).
As the speech moved from the introduction, through the body, and onto the conclusion with carefully crafted verbal transitions, the speaker used an appropriate quotation to drive home the seriousness of his feelings (Beebe 111, 121). He closed his speech with a quote from the philosopher Albert Camus, author of The Plague.
“After all,” Wiesel said, quoting Camus, “after the tragedy, never the rest ... there is more in the human being to celebrate than to denigrate.”
The final section is the conclusion. It reviews the thesis and summarizes the analysis:
Elie Wiesel’s speech captures me and everyone else exposed to it from the beginning. Whether it be the heart-wrenching story of how he and others suffered at the hands of sadistic national socialists, or his repetitive claim and proof that the world hasn’t learned from their mistakes (Beebe 190), the speech is sure to affect a listener emotionally. Although he paced his speech so that every word could be heard and understood, at times, I found the pace to be a little too slow for my taste. However, I understand that the subject matter is very grave, and he didn't want to risk under-emphasizing his misery and disappointment with the atrocities of the past.
Warning! This essay may have been submitted to a plagiarism detector. Do not copy it. Using this article is absolutely permissible if you cite this page's URL.
© 2010 Wendy Powell