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ENG 101 - Rhetorical Analysis of a Speech (Garber)

This guide contains guidance and recommended sources for Ms. Garber's Eng 101 Rhetorical Analysis of a Speech assignment.

3. Narrow Your Topic

Narrow SignOnce you've done some initial background reading, it's time to narrow down your topic to what you really want to write about.  Remember your assignment requirements and consider what you've read thus far.


We hear and see rhetoric every day. We read newspapers and websites, watch television, and listen to the radio.  Rhetorical analysis lets us analyze what people think and feel during these communications. 

So think about why the author or speaker chose their words and what were the effects of their words.  Can you spot bias?  Do the words have negative or positive connotations? Are there patterns and repetitions?  What is the overall tone or mood?

You will also want to analyze the ethos, logos, or pathos.  Remember:

  • Ethos-trying to prove the speaker's credibility
  • Pathos-appeals to emotions
  • Logos-using logic and reason to prove the speaker's point.  

You also want to think of the person speaking and the events that influence their speech.


As you think about what concepts you want to write about, think about what particular words might be found in a good article about that topic.  For instance, you are writing about How did the rhetorical strategies used in the speech affect the audience?  Think of related keywords for rhetoric:

Use of Language

Effects of language






Keywords work best by trial-and-error. Never do only one search. Some keywords will work better than others, and some keywords may lead you to different articles than you found in your first search.  Search the databases with the keywords you selected to find relevant articles. And remember to ask a librarian if you need assistance coming up with keywords or looking for sources.