This is a written and spoken project. (5-page essay; 10-minute informative
speech; 20% of grade.)
Objective: “Great oratory has three components: style, substance, and impact.”
According to Ted Sorensen, the late-speechwriter for JFK, “Speeches are great
when they reflect great decisions.” The purpose of this assignment is to
effectively research, organize, and analyze an important speech in history, and
then share your knowledge in a formal lecture.
To make the project easier, I have put together this step-by-step outline of what
you have to do:
1. Select a famous historic speech to analyze that is academically
challenging. All topics must be approved by me. Refer to course notes for
2. Write an outline of who, what, where, when, and why this speech is
important, and how and why it was effective. Please refer to LINCOLN AT
GETTYSBURG by Gary Wills for inspiration. Innumerable famous
speeches can also be viewed online.
3. Begin your research by answering the question of why this speech is/was
important in the context of its era. You will need a minimum of three
sources for full credit (Wikipedia may NOT be used as a source.) Librarian
Jean Hine is an invaluable resource; seek her advice on credible sources.
4. Write a 5-page, double-spaced informational academic essay with an
introduction, body, and conclusion. Analyze the topic of the speech and
the qualities that made this speaker an effective communicator
(commanding, personable, eloquent, expressive, charismatic, authoritative
and so on). Study his/her nonverbal and the place and setting in which the
speech was delivered. Include the vivid details of the place, time,
audience: where and when did this speech occur? Pre/post TV, Internet,
radio? Public, private address? How did the media respond? Describe the
5. Include a thorough description of the context in which this speech was
delivered. Back your point of view with facts. Provide a list of at least three
sources that exist in print form (though you may consult them online); this
is page six. Use proper grammar and punctuation. (Refer to The Elements
of Style). Proofread. Draft one DUE: March 28.
6. For this 10-minute speech, you are the professor or TEDTalk speaker, an
expert in command of your material. You may use a Power Point
Presentation or any visual or audio aid to enhance your analysis and
engage and educate your audience. Use facts, a narrative arc, vivid
details, an element of surprise, and historic context. Speech day: April 18
7. You must incorporate an excerpt (or clip) of your chosen speech into the
body of your lecture be it visual, audio, or draw on your own skills as
orator and recite the excerpt out loud. You will lose points if your excerpt
takes up more than 2% of your 10-minute lecture, but you are free to go
over the allotted ten minutes.
8. You will prepare an outline of your speech (your talking points). You may
deliver a 20 or 30 minute speech with prior approval. Practice, practice,
9. Deliver your speech to the class on the assigned date.
Other important criteria:
Your speech must be 10 minutes to receive full credit. You can refer to your
notes, but reading your speech verbatim (or reading paragraphs from a
screen/PPT) will result in a low grade. Please refer to your sources during
your speech when appropriate (this will give you credibility and authority).
Evaluating the Historic Speech Project:
You will submit:
• Draft one, due Monday, March 28
• 5-page essay, that is double-spaced and proofread for grammatical errors; a
bibliography of source notes (this is an additional page—page 6) and a title
page (page 7). Use these guidelines as a checklist and go through and mark
off each requirement so you don’t skip steps by mistake. You will lose points
for not following these guidelines. FINAL ESSAY DRAFT Due April 13
•Speech notes/outline/talking points delivered on Speech day: April 18.
5-page essay 30 points
10-minute (or longer) speech 20 points
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