SPEECHES – English Language coursework guide
At the bottom of the page, you will find links to memorable speeches.
Here are some rhetorical devices and other useful features which you may wish to use in your own speech.
Remember the aim of your speech is to persuade your audience to your point of view:
- Figurative language: metaphor, simile, personification, hyperbole, litotes (e.g. I wouldn’t say no!)
- Emotive language: e.g. appeals to feelings and moral standpoints, such as sense of justice, guilt, meanness. Note that, for you reasoning purists, appeals such as an ‘Appeal to Authority’ is fallacious when that person’s authority is irrelevant: for instance, The words ‘By Appointment’ on a jar of marmalade implies that if it is good enough for Her Majesty, it should be good enough for you!). Appeals may not be rational but they can nevertheless be effective. More examples.
- Anecdote: a personal account/experience, if used judiciuosly, can be persuasive.
- Use of Facts, quotes and examples: they lend weight to your views by supporting them with evidence.
- Discourse markers: these tell your audience where you are going next! They may be topic sentences or enumeration, which has a build up effect as well as helping your audience to follow your argument.
- Antithesis: You can present the opposing view and destroy it (ruthlessly). (Ridicule can be very effective!)
- Repetition. Examples include: triple phrasing; Anaphora (repetition of sentence beginnings); Epistrophe which is repetition of phrase endings (e.g. of the people, for the people, by the people.); Polysyndeton (frequent use of conjunctions such as ‘and’)
- Cataphoric sentence structure. This is a useful device: for instance, you might raise interest before identifying the actual subject e.g. She had been working on the project for five years before Julie realised…
- First person, Second person, Third person. For instance, you might use the inclusive ‘we’; a synthetically personalised ‘you’; an impersonal ‘they’.
- Rhetorical questions, Give the answers to your questions – you can imply these through the question as well as being explicit.
- Diacope (the verbal sandwich: ‘Fly, my pretties, fly’. The Wicked Witch of the West does not actually say this, so it is a measure of the success of diacope that many people believe she does!)
- Make an impact with your opening statement (always recommended). Maintain the structure an impetus throughout – you certainly don’t want a sagging middle.
- Sentence types. Make the occasional declarative statement in a short sentence, a short paragraph, a minor sentence etc
- Try a hypothetical/conditional argument to support your reasoning! e.g. if humans suddenly developed compassion, no animal would ever see the inside of a cage again.
Slavoj Zizek’s Occupy Wall Street speech and transcript.
Erica Goldson’s Graduation Speech transcript.
Final speech to the student body of Apache Chase.
Student Tec Welcome Speech and transcript (went viral!)