How to Critique a Speech?




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How to Critique a Speech?

A successful speech has engaging, well-researched content and is delivered with charisma and grace. To critique a speech, it’s necessary to evaluate the speaker’s abilities in both speech writing and delivery. Determine whether the speaker used facts and anecdotes to make a convincing case, and decide if his or her style was engaging enough to keep your attention through the end. Sharing your critique with the speaker will help him or her improve for next time.
Decide whether the speech resonates with the target audience. The content, including word choice, references and anecdotes, should be tailored to the audience who will be listening to the speech. For example, a “don’t do drugs” speech aimed at first graders will sound very different from one meant to teach awareness to college students. As you listen to the speech, try to determine whether it hits the mark or seems a bit off.
See if the speech is convincing and educational. In a well-written speech, arguments are skillfully put forth to prove a larger point. The content of the speech should demonstrate the speaker’s expertise on the subject at hand, and the audience should come away feeling they learned something new. Look for gaps in the speaker’s reasoning or places where further research would have made a point more convincing.
Evaluate the closing. A good close should tie up all of the points and give the audience new ideas for using the information they’ve been given. A poor closing will only summarize the points, or outright ignore them and go on to a topic that has nothing to do with what the speaker has been saying for the rest of the allotted time period.
Listen for filler words. Too many “ums” and “likes” take away from a speaker’s credibility, since they make him or her sound a bit unprepared. Listen for these words and make a note of how many times you hear them. While saying a few filler words is natural, they should not overwhelm the speech or be noticeable in any way.
See if the speech was memorized. A great speaker should have memorized the speech long in advance. Using a typed page of notes or using powerpoint to jog one’s memory is acceptable, but glancing down too many times can be distracting for audience members.
Assess how the speaker manages anxiety. Most people suffer from stage fright. Public speaking is the second worst fear in North America, ranking above death. Great speakers might be nervous on the inside, by they’ve learned ways to hide that from the audience. Look for signs that the speaker is nervous so you can offer a critique that will help him or her improve next time.
Take detailed notes during the speech. Bring a notebook and pen to the speech, so you can make note of areas that need improvement. Writing down a shorthand account of what the speaker said will help you to organize the points when it’s time to deliver your critique. Being as detailed as possible in your notes will help the speaker understand exactly what to work on for next time.
Discuss your assessment of the speech’s content. Deconstruct the speech by part, starting with the introduction and ending with the conclusion. Give an overall evaluation of whether you felt the main points of the speech were adequately presented and reinforced, and whether you felt the speech as a whole seemed convincing and credible. Would you consider it a successful speech, or does it need to be revised?
Give feedback on the speaker’s delivery. It is in this area that speakers often need the most feedback, since it’s difficult to evaluate your own body language and style. Give the speaker a gentle but honest critique of the effectiveness of his or her body language and delivery, including tone of voice, pacing, eye contact, and posture.
Point out the positive, too. The speaker you’re critiquing likely put some time and effort into writing and practicing the speech. Any time you’re giving a critique, it’s just as important to point out what went right as it is to discuss what needs improvement. If you’re working with a student or someone who needs help improving their speech-giving skills, be encouraging and complimentary so they have the confidence to keep working on their skills.

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