A Speech Analysis Subproject is a project where you need to analyze a speech from a specific viewpoint (for example : structure, body language, etc.). Members of the club are shown a selected speech, and then the presenter delivers a commentary on the relevant parts of the speech.
Usually Speech Analysis comes as the first part of a two-part project. For example, for body language, you first analyze a speech from that viewpoint, then you deliver one yourself.
Determining the kind of speech format you need
Ideally, you should find a video of the speech you want to analyze, in order to have the full experience of members of the audience. However, many great speeches are not available in that format.
The kind of speech format you need will depend on the specific project. For some basic projects - for example speech structure or speech development, you can use virtually any speech format - video, audio, or maybe only a transcript of the speech itself.
For some projects, however, members will need to hear or see the speech. For example, it makes no sense to analyze the body language of a speaker based solely on a transcript of his speech. However, for vocal variety, audio recordings are good enough.
Finding a speech to analyze
There are many speech sources you can use, as well as techniques to find speeches of interest:
- Your first stop should be the links we provide in the “Collections of Speeches” area. There you will find many pointers of famous speeches by notable figures, both contemporary and historical, in a variety of formats - from text transcripts to video recordings.
- If the above resource doesn’t match your needs, a good idea is to search on YouTube for speeches. Usually the combination “speech on XXX ” or “top speeches on XXXX” or “best XXXX in a speech” work well, where XXX is your subject of interest. (For example “speech on leadership”)
- Another good option is to search your favourite TV broadcaster for opinion pieces, editorials, comments, etc. especially by news anchors.
- General search on Google also works well, especially if you combine your query term with “examples” or “top 10” or similar.
Make sure that the speech you want to use is appropriate from the viewpoint of the project. A speech by a TV news anchor can be great for structure and rhetorical devices, but very poor from the viewpoint of body language, or even vocal variety, due to the constraints of the medium.
The speech you select need not be a speech by a celebrity, it might be just a speech that you liked that exhibits traits that you find worthy of adopting. For example : it could be a simple graduation speech by a fellow student that had great structure or that impacted you a lot.
Also, remember that you need to select a speech, not a theatric or movie fragment or a dialogue. You can use speeches from movies or plays as long as the speaker is the only person speaking, uninterrupted by other events or sounds.
It is very recommended to use not just any speech on any subject, but to search for speeches on those subjects you are passionate about,as they will also benefit you by providing role models and inspiration on how to tackle these subjects.
Important: For the benefit of the whole community, please submit a link to your selected speech to info at agoraspeakers.org
Should I use the whole speech?
Most Speech Analysis projects have a 10 minutes maximum allotted time for the speech itself. While many great speeches are well under that length, some are much longer. Unless you’re analyzing the speech globally (for example, from the viewpoint of structure or stage presence), there’s no need to present the whole speech. This is especially true for analyzing things like body language, vocal variety or similar, where only the relevant fragments are necessary.
You can use any open source video editing program to extract the part that interest you, but be sure to preserve at least 5-10 seconds before and after those parts so that the transitions in and out can be seen.
If you don’t want to use a video program, you can merely write down the time marks where the segment that interests you starts and ends (again starting at least 5-10 seconds before), and scroll directly to that part during the presentation at the club meeting. This is a less preferred method, as during the meeting you may scroll to the wrong location, then you’d need to correct it, and the whole process is very distracting to the audience and breaks the smooth flow of the presentation.
How many examples should I use?
A great speech will usually feature many examples of body language, vocal changes, rhetorical devices, etc. Most speech analysis projects are constrained to 5-7 minutes for your presentation and analysis of the speech. This means that you won’t have time to explain more than 3, or in the very best case 4 instances. Consider that every example you will be highlighting will take at least 30 to 40 seconds (including the 5-10 seconds before and after the part of interest). Only playing the examples without any comment will already take 2-3 minutes - half of your time.
How to perform the analysis
Once you have decided on a speech to use, it’s time to do the analysis.
- First, read well the description of the project to understand the things you need to be looking for in your speech.
- Next, watch the speech once completely without interruptions.
- For the second viewing, watch the speech constantly looking for the things described in the project, writing down the time marks (e.g.: “3:02”) of the things that interest you, impact you or draw your attention. It’s also recommended that you write a “score” for each segment, for example from 1 to 3, to help prioritizing them.
- For the third viewing, watch only the segments that you marked down, analyzing what exactly the speaker is doing, and what the transitions are into that segment. Write down next to each time mark that you wrote before your ideas, feelings and thoughts, as they cross your mind. Don’t censor or constrain yourself, nor try to give any structure or much less any “academic” format of your notes.
- At this point, select the top three examples from your list.
- As a next step, examine only the notes and try to expand them and give them some structure. Use no more than one or two paragraphs per each example. Write down why you think the example is relevant, what specific actions of the speaker impacted you and why.
- As a last step, give your notes the structure of a mini speech, consisting of an up to 1 minute introduction with the project goals, then your previously written notes, then a 10-20 sec conclusion with your general summary about the speech you’ve chosen.
Remember that you’re not evaluating the speech. You’re using it as an example of good speaking practices.
Speech Analysis Projects are delivered as follows:
Before the Meeting
- First, EMail the speech of your choice to all club members. Ask the Club Officers for assistance in EMailing all members. For transcripts, send the speech itself. For audio and video recordings, send a link to where the speech is located (the complete speech, not the fragments you selected). It’s always a very good idea to provide at least two sources for the speech itself, as you might find out at the very wrong time that the website that had the speech is no longer available for whatever reason.
- If your club provides printed agendas or EMails them, the links to the speech should be in them,
If you’re using a video or audio speech, you should have it offline, downloaded to your computer. There’s nothing worse than finding at the last moment that your venue lacks internet connectivity or that the website or network is down at the time of your speech.
During the Meeting
- Provide a short, (max 1 minute) explanation of the project goals
- Explain which speech you have chosen - who is speaking and what is the context (For example: “This is a commencement speech delivered by Steve Jobs on June 12, 2005 at Stanford University”)
- For Audio and Video recordings of speeches that are less than the allotted speech time in the project, play them wholly at the club meeting. For this you would need either:
- A projector. This is the ideal scenario, and all clubs should consider having one. There are many cheap options now on the market.
- A TV set you can connect your computer to.
- If the speech is only audio, you can just use your computer connected to an external speaker
- If all else fails, just use a computer to display it to members, who will sit around
- For speeches available only as text transcripts, or when they are too long, proceed directly to the commentary section. In this section, play or read only the fragments you selected along with your comments. Usually a very good technique is to express first what you liked about a fragment (you can use your notes here, but try to avoid reading directly from them), and then play or read the fragment itself. Repeat this for every fragment you have chosen.
- Finally, deliver your conclusion.