Steve Jobs Commencement Speech Rhetorical Analysis

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The Great storyteller – Rhetorical Analysis of Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech Lu Jia As one of the greatest presenters of his time, Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford was also a huge success. It was regarded highly both by his direct audience – the graduating class at Stanford, as evidenced by their repeated cheers and applauses; and by the mass media - a Forbes article praised his commencement speech as “still inspirational after 10 years”. Video of the speech attracted 22 million views on Youtube and his famous ending quote “stay hungry, stay foolish” quickly became catchphrase of the year. Apart from his status as a legendary businessman and inventor, what might have contributed to the success of this speech? This essay attempts to evaluate Jobs’ commencement speech from a rhetorical point of view by exploring how it was a fitting response to the rhetorical situation and how he used ethos, pathos and logos in the delivering of his message. It is often meaningless to judge a speech without thinking about context and purposes. As Lloyd Blizer pointed out, “a work of rhetoric is pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself; it functions ultimately to produce action or change in the world”.1 Jobs’ speech was the…show more content…
He prepared his script in a way that the main structure of each story was identical. Each story would begin with a thought-provoking title - “connecting the dots”, “love and loss”, “death” – followed by the story itself, and end with a revelation of the meaning of the story. The three episodes were also organized in chronological order – they were about college, career, and eventually death. This structured organization brought much desired clarity to an otherwise lengthy speech, and enabled his audience to stay focused without getting lost. It was a successful demonstration of using logos to enhance the structure of the
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