Discussion peer responses: Steve Job’s speech

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Discussion Forum

To prepare for this discussion, review “Basics of Speechwriting” and “Basics of Giving a Speech” in textbook Chapter 15. Then watch this video of Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs giving the 2005 Commencement address at Stanford University. The transcript is available on the same link below.

Jobs, S. (2005). Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University Commencement address (Links to an external site.) [Video file]. Retrieved from http://news.stanford.edu/2005/06/14/jobs-061505/

(Links to an external site.)

For the discussion, analyze Jobs’ speech and explain how he did or not follow the basic rules of writing and giving a speech:


======================STUDENT #1 Hello classmates,=================================

My comments on these basic speech writing and giving a speech rules:

Knowing your objective. Steve’s objectives or message was follow your heart, don’t loose faith, find what you love, pay attention to what is important.

Structuring the message for the ear. Steve’s opening story, about being a college drop out was a great attention grabber. Especially since he’s giving a speech to college graduates! The basic sentiment of the first story is “connect the dots” and “follow your heart“. The second story was about shortcomings in life. Getting fired, loosing friendships, and yet meeting the love of his life. “Sometimes life will hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t loose faith. Find what you love”. His third story was about death and dying. “Remember that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.” A story about him receiving the bad news that he had a rare form of cancer. His message included; “Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other peoples thinking. Everything else is secondary.”

In his closing words, were his wish for himself, and to his audience, which was something he read back in the 70’s and it was; “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. This tip of “Structure the Message for the Ear” was noted in this week’s reading. Steve Jobs did that at the beginning of the speech. He said, “I’m going to tell you three stories.” This gave the audience something to follow and know when it’ll end (Wilcox & Reber, 2016).

Tailoring the remarks for the audience (knowing his listeners, using their language, using visuals, using humor carefully). He has a terrific sense of humor. He is very passionate about the subject matter which was to congratulate the graduates, motivate them, celebrate their success, leave them with great advice. His stories were great. He wasn’t boastful, but sincere and humbled to be speaking to the graduates.

Keeping it timely and short. The entire speech is only 15 minutes. It was a great. Concise.

Incorporating gestures, eye contact, and smiles. He didn’t look at the audience enough. (In my opinion.) I’m guessing he couldn’t memorize it completely.

Wilcox, D. L., & Reber, B. H. (2016). Public relations writing and media techniques. Pearson.

===========================STUDENT #2 ==================================

Chapter 15 of our textbook discusses the basics for writing and delivering speeches. By understanding and following these basic rules, speakers can ensure their audience will be engaged and their message will be heard. The basic rules for writing/giving a speech are:

  • Knowing your objective
  • Structuring your message for the ear
  • Understanding and tailoring to your audience
  • Timely and short
  • Using hand gestures, making eye contact, smiling, etc. (Wilcox & Reber, 2016).

Many influential speakers can be seen following these basics in some of their most successful speeches, such as Steve Jobs in his delivery of the 2005 Commencement address at Stanford University.

This speech is considered one of the top speeches of the last 50 years by some, and it is clear why. I first saw this speech about 2 years ago, and I remembered how big of an impact it left on me. This was way before I knew anything about PR or communication strategies – his speech impacted me because he was very funny, down to earth, and relatable. He shared very personal struggles he faced and how he overcame them, and he left me feeling very inspired.

Watching it again now with these basics in mind, I actually appreciate his speech so much more now. He understood his audience very well, as well as made great, consistent uses of hand gestures and eye contact throughout. His speech was only about 15 minutes long, but he made it feel as if it were maybe half that. He has a great, conversational flow and cadence that holds attention, as well as engages the audience with humor.

His objective of this speech was to share three stories with the audience. What I believe to be a big reason as to why this is considered one of the best speeches is because of Jobs’ ability to give the audience so much information in a short amount of time without overwhelming the audience.

Wilcox, D. L., & Reber, B. H. (2016). Public relations writing and media techniques. Pearson.


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