How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis of a Speech

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis of a Speech

Having the right guidelines on how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech helps you to carry out your analysis efficiently. Note that a rhetorical analysis essay is a paper that deeply explores the goals of an author, tools or techniques used, give examples of those techniques and states their effectiveness.

Therefore, when writing your essay, you are not stating whether you agree or disagree with the argument. You are making an in-depth analysis and discussion of how the rhetorician makes that claim and whether the approach he or she employs is successful.

How to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech critically

There are a number of things you should focus on to help you understand how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech. It includes the tasks you should carry out when writing your essay. The tasks include

  • Determining how rhetoric operates in a speech or text
  • To explore deeply how a specific analysis unit operates to achieve the purpose of the speech
  • To take a close reading of one key statement or passage
  • To answer an important research question about the function and nature of the rhetoric

Being a research question, your rhetorical analysis should therefore focus on finding out more about rhetoric by studying the speech. The research question will therefore, guide your text analysis. For this reason, you should write an essay that contributes to your understanding of how a rhetorical analysis processes work and your understanding of the speech itself.

Therefore, to carry out effective rhetorical analysis of a speech, it is wise that you choose one unit of analysis. It is always your responsibility to choose a unit that reveals the most about the rhetoric speech you are analyzing. The units include

  • Logos- appeals to the audience’s logic and reason
  • pathos –appeals to the emotions of target audience
  • ethos-this includes techniques that make target audience believe that what is said is because of their trust towards the nature of the rhetor revealed in the speech
  • metaphors and other comparison modes including similes and analogies
  • Tone including sarcasm, academic, irony and sentimental tone and
  • Types of evidence used by the speaker and their effect

Procedure on how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech

Writing a rhetorical analysis is a process and you have to focus on the research question to have a better understanding of what you are expected to do. As a result, it is essential that before you read the speech, go through the research question and have an idea of what to write about in mind

  • Find anything that is rhetorical in the text or something that puzzles you
  • Take a close look into all units of rhetorical analysis in mind
  • Read the speech carefully, note the appeals and illustrate them clearly
  • Go through the speech again and list down all metaphors used by the speaker
  • Categorize the metaphors depending on what the speaker compares them to

With a list and categories of metaphors in mind, explain them to your readers because they will simply ask the question, so what?

The next rhetorical analysis step to carry out is to discover the effect that the unit of analysis you have chosen has on the meaning. Talk about the effect of the whole speech and how it helps you to address your research question.

Structure of how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech

The structure of a rhetorical analysis of a speech should follow the right structure and use specific headings. Each section should be written in a coherent manner to unify the essay. Most importantly, write each section and state its purpose but do not evaluate the speech in the analysis sections. The sections or parts of your analysis should include an


Introduce the author and text or speech you are analyzing

Explain a rhetoric situation and focus on original audience, occasion, context and where the speech was delivered in the first place

State your rhetorical analysis question

Summary of speech

Write a brief summary of the text and explicitly state the purpose of the speaker

Write down the thesis and major points of the speech (always use the terms, thesis, texts purpose and major points in your writing.

The purpose of writing a summary is to help you master how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech and give a sense of rhetor’s points. Your summary doesn’t give audience a complete list of all minor points and examples. In this case, it is imperative that you are specific in your writing.

For instance, instead of saying, he comments on the global situation, it is good to say, he denounces enemies of freedom and applauds new democracies.


This is a major part of a rhetorical analysis and it has two sub-sections

  1. Unit of analysis- choose and define the unit of analysis you will employ and briefly explain why you settled for it. Go an extra mile to demonstrate that you have a command of the concept to efficiently write your rhetorical analysis. It is also imperative to give quotations as evidence to support your thesis.
  2. Close reading- this is a skill that a person who knows how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech has mastered. You therefore need to choose one important or key passage in the speech and quote it in full. Re-read it and give it a proverbial fine tooth comb.

-remember to evaluate all appeals including pathos, ethos, logos, stylistic techniques and appeals to the needs of audience as well as values. It is essential to organize this part of your analysis based on the manner in which the speech sentences appear.

Insight into rhetoric

Give an explanation of the speech and explain what it reveals to you about the rhetoric. Here, you need to answer the research question efficiently. How did you analysis support or prove your argument? What is next diachronic or synchronic significance of the speech?


In this section, respond to the text and implications expression your point of view on issues that the speech raises. This enables you to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech that is thoroughly explains your argument. Explain your thoughts about the author’s argument, did it work, give reasons why or not. What is the significance of the text to your work and in your intellectual life?

Analytical techniques to use when writing a rhetorical analysis of a speech

There are different techniques that will help you master how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech. They include

Use of a rhetorical canon of invention to develop your ideas- this focuses on a rhetorical situation that a rhetor faced

Use tenor and vehicle rhetorical terms if you find similes and metaphors in the speech

Image analysis is also another technique that helps you to focus the elements of a vehicle and choose the best that matches your speech.

Additional tips to writing your rhetorical analysis of a speech

  • Learn to advance your argument by stating your thesis clearly and supporting
  • Always make an original argument and reflect on your unique perception of the speech
  • Focus on what the speaker said and how he or she said it
  • Always choose the most relevant and significant appeal that matches your reading of the speech. It helps you to write an effective rhetorical analysis, make an original argument and write a very compelling thesis
  • Read, edit and proofread your paper to eliminate possible errors

Examples of rhetorical analysis of a speech

Example 1

I Have a Dream- Martin Luther King

I have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, has a simple context. The author, Martin Luther King, is known for his great work in Civil Rights in the 1960’s. the purpose of his speech is to instill or inspire change in both black and white citizens of the United States of America during the Civil Rights era………………………………………………………………..

Borrow more ideas on how to write a rhetorical analysis of a speech from this essay analysis.

Example 2

Fight them on the Beaches: Churchill

I myself have full confidence that if all carry out their duty, if nothing is neglected, and is the best preparations are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again more than able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war and to outlive the menace of tyranny for years. If necessary, alone, at any rate, that is what we are going to try to do…………………………………………………………………

This is a sample of a rhetorical analysis of a speech. Visit the link and see how the author highlights different parts of the speech and use of appeals therein.  

Example 3

Bush 911 Bullhorn Speech

Thank you all. I want you all to know, it that bullhorn can’t go any louder. I want you to all to know that American today, America today is on bended knee, in prayer for the people whose lives were lost here, for the workers who work here and for the families who mourn. The nation stands with the good people of New York City, and New Jersey and Connecticut, as we mourn the loss of thousands of our citizens………………………..

This is a rhetoric analysis of the Bush Bullhorn speech. Read it and learn more on how to do write your analysis. 

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