Ronald Reagan’s inaugural speech of 1981 is a speech of recognition, namely a speech of introduction or acceptance, and an inspirational speech to a certain extent. According to Gunn (2020), such speeches should express gratitude to the community and honor it. The role of an introduction speech is “to make the audience feel welcome and to get them excited about the person” (Gunn, 2020, p. 258). Reagan’s speech seems to follow these specific goals as he honors the American nation while speaking.
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Ronald Reagan completely fulfilled the goal of his speech, which was to introduce him as a new president, accept the choice made by the American people as an honor, and inspire them. Reagan’s speech highlights his character, which is essential for recognition speeches (Gunn, 2020). Although Reagan does not directly speak about himself, his speech allows the listeners to understand what president he intends to be.
The verbal delivery of Ronald Reagan’s speech is excellent, as is expected from the new president’s inaugural speech. His nonverbal delivery has some minuses as he refers to his notes too often. However, Gunn (2020) claims that most audiences do not mind if a speaker to their note cards. Therefore, Ronald Reagan’s speech’s verbal and nonverbal delivery worked exceptionally well, especially considering the following applause.
Ronald Reagan establishes his credibility as a president by telling his audience that he sees the nation’s power in the people. As mentioned earlier, Reagan’s speech is inspirational in many respects, and establishing credibility means inspiring people to believe in the new president (Gunn, 2020). Thus, Ronald Reagan’s credibility appears to be fully set as he makes people he speaks to (and about) a top priority.
Ronald Reagan appeals to the audience’s emotions by saying that the American people are heroes because he wants them to believe in their significance. Gunn (2020) states that the primary goal of an inspirational speech is to “honor the present moment in a way that emotionally motivates your audience” (p. 264). Reagan succeeded in that because his speech was emotionally motivating as he emphasized the heroism of the American people.
Gunn, J. (2020). Speech Craft (2nd Edition). Macmillan Higher Education.