People listen to different speeches every day. For a speech to be considered excellent, it should communicate the intended message and have a lasting impact on the audience. The commencement speech, Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish, which was delivered by Steve Jobs, on June 12, 2005, at Stanford University, can be considered as outstanding. Steve Jobs (1955-2011), the founder of NeXT and Pixar Animations, was the co-founder and CEO of the global company, Apple Inc. Apart from the Vanguard Award in 2002, the pioneer of the individual computer revolution also won the Mobile Personality of the Year Award in 2010. This paper analyzes Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University. The speech by Steve Jobs is extremely effective and excellent because it executes its intended purpose.
Steve Jobs begins his speech very strongly by complimenting the audience. He begins by saying, I am honored to be with you today for your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. This statement already makes the audience proud to be associated with such a fine university. He goes on to admit that he never graduated from college. By the time he mentions this, the attention of the audience has been captured, and this increases their receptiveness to his message. The additional statement, Truth be told, this is the closest Ive ever gotten to a college graduation, not only sets the mood of the speech but also appeals to the emotions of the audience, making them feel at ease. These strong opening remarks effectively give Steve a smooth ride to the rest of the speech.
In the body of his speech, Steve encourages his audience to follow their dreams, by using his background to augment his rhetorical approach. He applies the analogy of his personal experiences. He tells the audience three stories. The first story is about his upbringing. Steve reveals to his audience that his biological mother gave him up for adoption, supposedly to a well-educated couple. The childhood story stirs up pathos from his audience. The intention is to make them attentive throughout the speech. The second story is an evaluation of success. He recounts how he was fired from a company he co-founded. This aims at encouraging the graduates to rise from tribulations since success is not for the feint-hearted. He declares that Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. This he uses to demonstrate that one gets where they want only if they never give up. The message resonates very well with the audience since they are going to start off a new life which is full of challenges. In the third story, Steve narrates his close shave with death. He was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and his doctor had told him that he only had three to six months to live. He humorously says that he did not even know what a pancreas was. This relieves tension, as the audience laughs, despite the seriousness of the matter. Steve is able to maintain the attention of his audience throughout the speech as a result of his strategic use of rhetoric.
Steves ability to efficiently apply a simple structure in his speech ensures its excellence. He begins with an outstanding introduction, goes on to an effective body that tells the three stories and winds up with an exceptional conclusion. By the end of the speech, the message has been driven home in the most effective way. Steve also uses simple sentence structures and sign posts to guide his audience throughout the speech. He begins by saying Today I want to tell you three stories , goes on to state that The first story, My second story and My third story. Such transition helps the audience to keenly follow the speech. He also employs figures of speech such as antithesis when he contrasts the aspects of life and death: Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. The repetition used in the conclusion, Stay hungry. Stay foolish is also important in emphasizing on the main message of the speech. In addition, as he speaks, Steve pauses dramatically. In the statement: even when it leads you off the well-worn path and that will make all the difference, he employs a dramatic pause that allows the audience to digest the point. Consequently, the point is driven home.
In conclusion, Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford University proves to be one of the most successful in executing its purpose. Through excellent rhetorical strategies, Steve is able to maintain the attention of his audience throughout the speech. The strategic beginning, simple plot structure, use of humor and simple sentences, application of relevant stylistic features and eloquent presentation not only make the speech efficient but also successful in communicating the intended message.
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