How to Write a Speech Critique Paper

Critiques help a person improve their speaking skills.

Many classes that focus on or include public speaking require critique papers to help develop your understanding of what makes a speech effective. These steps will help you pen a thoughtful paper critiquing a classmate's or coworker's speech.

Many people find public speaking intimidating.

Gather the notes you took during the speech and any guidelines you have for the length and breadth of the paper. If you have a recording of the speech, you may wish to listen to it a second time. Record your impressions and observations—what you liked, what you didn't like. Note the specific places where you felt confused, where your attention started to wander (i.e. the speaker lost your interest), where the speaker sounded awkward or hesitant and where the speaker did well. Also jot down any turn of phrase that caught your attention.

Some people have no fear at all of public speaking.

Elaborate on your thoughts, creating a very rough draft of the critique paper. At this stage, don't worry about smooth, polished phrasing or spelling the speaker's name right. Just get your thoughts down. It helps to write a longer rough draft than you need, so that later, after you revise, you won't have to fret about your paper being too short.

With practice, almost anyone can be a decent speaker.

Revise the speech critique paper, starting with macro-level issues like structure and working your way down into the level of individual word choice. Delete repetitive phrases and weak or vague criticisms.

Such a paper typically begins with an introduction that includes the speaker's full name (check that you spell it right) and the topic of her speech. The body of the paper should cover the things that the speaker did well and the things the speaker could have done better. The conclusion should reiterate the things done well and offer a note of encouragement or expression of confidence that, with practice, the speaker will grow to be a dynamic, invigorating orator.

  • When writing the critique paper, keep in mind that the speaker may see it. While you certainly don't have to sugar-coat your prose ("Billy did great in every part of his speech"), do keep basic courtesy and respect in mind when phrasing your criticisms.
  • If you get stuck during the drafting process, use prompts as sentence beginnings, such as "I enjoyed," "I struggled with," "I felt" and "The speaker seemed."

First published at age 17, Kim Durant is an experienced writer with numerous published articles under her belt. A former tutor and community education teacher, she writes primarily about decorating, crafts and other creative pursuits.