Critical Essay
Public speaking events happen all around you, every day. Recognizing good and bad public speaking skills is key to you becoming a better public speaker in the future. For this assignment, you will write a paper assessing and critically analyzing an example of public speaking found in today?s media. Pay particular attention to the public speaking skills of the speaker. Choose the appropriate public speaking concepts from the text and apply the concepts to your exemplar. You are welcome to use the discussions from class to help support your positions however, the media examples are not to be used.

The purpose of this assignment is to help you develop your skills as a critic in describing, analyzing, interpreting, and evaluating a rhetorical artifact/tool. For this essay, you should select a public speech from easily accessible media (ie. I can find it if need be). Using public speaking concepts from the text, you will describe, analyze, interpret, and evaluate the speech in a critical essay.

As in all critical or persuasive writing, you will need to support your assertions with careful and clear reasons, evidence from the textbook (Ford-Brown, L.A. (2012). DK Guide to Public Speaking), and examples from the artifact you are investigating. The important, required parts of your essay are detailed below:
Introduction to the Rhetorical Text: After you have chosen a speech for analysis, you should begin your essay by looking at the artifact/text itself. You will need some introductory remarks about what you are studying and why. Your task in the introduction is to orient the reader to the topic and to present a clear statement of purpose that organizes the essay (Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?). In other words, name the artifact being analyzed, name your particular public speaking concepts, and present your thesis: does the speech succeed in achieving it’s goal?

Description of the Rhetorical Text: Context: Explain the context of the speech. Who is the speaker? Who is the audience? What motivates the speaker to give the speech? What is the speaker trying to accomplish with the speech? Review the textbook for other important details you can include to describe the speech context.

Analysis of the Rhetorical Text: It should be very clear what public speaking concepts you are applying and analyzing. Be sure you identify, define, and explain the concept you have chosen. Once you’ve discussed the concept, apply it to the speech. Use examples from the speech to support your application.

Interpretation and Evaluation of the Rhetorical Text: This section can intertwine with the analysis portion. Just be sure you do all the steps for each public speaking concept you choose. After you’ve applied the concept to the speech, analyze the concept within the speech. Is the speech a good example of the concept? Is it an example of what happens when someone doesn’t do the concept well? Think of this step as the "grading" of the concept within the speech. Lastly, evaluate how the performance of the concept impacted the speech context. Did the speaker do the concept in a way that enhanced/hurt the speech and helped/hindered the speaker’s ability to achieve goals? How did the concept in the speech function to affect and influence meaning for the audience? What choices did the speaker make in regards to the concept and why did those choices matter?

Conclusion: Close your critical essay with an evaluation of the speech that reflects your thesis from the introduction. Because the speech was designed to accomplish some goal, you, as a critic, must determine whether or not this goal was met and how the public speaking concepts you chose contributed to this decision. Be sure your conclusion is supported by your analysis.
The point of this assignment is not to just say "this was good and this was bad." Useful rhetorical criticism must function as an argument. "Good criticism, then moves beyond mechanical or technical dismantling of messages to creative interpretation of the analysis that requires you to make a case for what you’ve discovered about how communication works between human beings" (Stoner & Perkins, 2005). The point of the assignment is for you to say, "this was good and this was bad because…. and that affected the outcome of the speech because…." In this way, you’ve made an argument based on your assessment.

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