Speech Critiques

Why study other speakers?

The Speech Analysis Series

Studying and evaluating the techniques of other speakers is an excellent way to become a better public speaker.

  • When a speaker impresses, ask “Why was that impressive?
  • When a speaker bombs, ask “Why didn’t that hit the mark?

Analyzing other speakers provides an abundant supply of ideas that can be incorporated into our own presentations.

Why use video critiques?

With a growing supply of speech videos readily accessible, video critiques can be especially useful teaching and learning aids.

  • Without video, you can say: “Remember that keynote speaker last week? Weren’t her gestures powerful?
  • With video, you can refer directly to precise moments: “The keynote speaker last week was fantastic. Her gestures at 1:27 and 2:38 of her speech were powerful.

Speech Critique Examples on Six Minutes

Speaker
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Title
"A date which will live in infamy" (Pearl Harbor address)
Venue
December 8, 1941, United States Presidential Address to Congress
Notable Elements
Address to Congress on the day following the Pearl Harbor attack. Speech analysis focuses on strategic word selection.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Winston Churchill
Title
The Sinews of Peace (Iron Curtain)
Venue
March 5, 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri
Notable Elements
Memorable speech which signalled the start of the Cold War. Analysis shows how to demonstrate charisma tactics through speech writing.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Ken Robinson
Title
Do schools kill creativity?
Venue
TED 2006
Notable Elements
Deep ideas; engaging; humorous; use of signalling words and rhetorical questions.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Dan Pink
Title
The Surprising Science of Motivation
Venue
TED 2009
Notable Elements
Strong opening and closing; masterful speechwriting; passionate; superb gestures and vocal variety.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Abraham Lincoln
Title
Gettysburg Address
Venue
Dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, in the midst of the United States Civil War.
Notable Elements
One of the most famous, most quoted, and most recited speeches of all time. It is also one of the shortest at just 10 sentences.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Elizabeth Gilbert
Title
Nurturing Creativity
Venue
TED 2009
Notable Elements
Passionate; storytelling; engaging the audience; speaking rate; hand gestures; relating the message to the audience.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Jacqueline Novogratz
Title
Escaping Poverty
Venue
TED 2009
Notable Elements
Strong opening and closing; relates to the audience; storytelling; contrast; visuals; eye contact.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Barack Obama
Title
Presidential Inaugural Address
Venue
Washington, D.C., January 20, 2009
Notable Elements
Inauguration speech delivered to a live crowd estimated at 2 million people and billions around the globe.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Martin Luther King Jr.
Title
I Have a Dream
Venue
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, August 28, 1963
Notable Elements
Given to a crowd of 250,000, "I Have a Dream" is considered one of the greatest speeches of all time.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Dalton Sherman
Title
Do you believe?
Venue
Dallas Independent School District Teachers Conference
Notable Elements
10-year-old 5th grader Dalton Sherman delivers an inspirational speech to 20,000 teachers about the importance of believing in each other.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Randy Pausch
Title
The Last Lecture (Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams)
Venue
CMU (Carnegie Mellon University)
Notable Elements
Tremendously inspirational, funny, clever use of props and visual aids, a truly memorable speech.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Patrick Henry Winston
Title
How to Speak
Venue
MIT Annual Lecture (1997)
Notable Elements
Dozens of practical public speaking tips; targets speaking to teach or to inform; lecture-style.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Majora Carter
Title
Greening the Ghetto
Venue
TED 2006
Notable Elements
Personal emotion, energy, passion, rapid speaking rate, call-to-action, reading from script.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Hans Rosling
Title
Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen
Venue
TED 2006
Notable Elements
Six simple techniques for presenting data, graphical display, energetic delivery.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
J.A. Gamache
Title
Being a Mr. G.
Venue
2007 Toastmasters (Region VI) Speech Contest
Notable Elements
Strong writing, powerful body language, speech opening and closing which feature the same prop, callback technique for repetitive humor, emotionally charged writing, and a series of wonderfully choreographed gestures.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Steve Jobs
Title
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Venue
Stanford University Commencement Address 2005
Notable Elements
Strong opening; simple classical structure; the Rule of Three; rich figures of speech; and a recurring theme of birth/death/rebirth.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Al Gore
Title
15 ways to avert a climate crisis
Venue
TED 2006
Notable Elements
Humor; call-to-action; audience awareness; and slide techniques.
Read our Speech Critique

Speaker
Dick Hardt
Title
Identity 2.0
Venue
OSCON 2005
Notable Elements
Lessig method, speech opening, humor, repetition, contrast, analogies.
Read our Speech Critique

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