Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech

Steve Jobs was invited to speak at Stanford University’s commencement exercise. He delivered a powerful speech that connected with the audience. There were many reasons why Steve Jobs succeeded and delivered a memorable speech. He came prepared and talked about a topic that was very interesting.

He analysed his audience and utilized what he knew about campus culture using his experience as a former college student. He was mindful of the elements required for an introduction. But more importantly Steve Jobs spoke about something that can help future graduates navigate the real world.

The introduction only contained three out of four parts discussed in class (Jaffe 90). The speaker did not provide a clear preview of the major points. But this omission did not weaken the speech because there was a good reason why he did not provide an overview of the topic.

The modification was made to adjust to the core message of the speech. The core message talked about the inability to see the future and yet there is no need to worry. Although he omitted the last part, Steve Jobs was able to draw the attention of the audience to the topic. He was also able to relate the topic to the concerns of the graduates and finally he was able to link himself to the subject.

The strength of the speech can be explained through the careful disclosure of the proposition. Steve Jobs was able to connect to the audience by letting them know that he was in their shoes when he was young. The second reason for the powerful delivery was that the overall organization was clear and well thought out. Steve Jobs knew the anxious thoughts in the minds of the graduates. He also knew the struggle that they went through to get their diploma.

Another important feature of the speech was the use of transitions. Jobs demonstrated his skill as communicator by providing transitions from one sub-topic to the next. He was able to accomplish this by dividing the speech into three short stories. But even if the stories were different there was a unifying thread.

He talked about the uncertainty of life. He talked about setbacks and problems. He encouraged the graduates that more often than not they will experience failure. But he told them that even failures can be used as stepping stones towards success.

The effectiveness of the speech was enhanced further when the speaker delivered a definitive ending. He clarified the correct mindset needed to succeed in the real world. There is only one minor weakness. Steve Jobs was dependent on his notes all throughout the delivery. He was actually reading the speech and was unable to add words in an extemporaneous fashion.


The effectiveness of Steve Jobs’ speech can be explained through the proper use of audience analysis and selection of topic. The speaker knew that he was tasked to speak in the presence of graduates. Thus, he developed the speech to cater to the needs of the audience.

Although organization and careful development of the speech was made evident during the delivery, it can be said that the main reason for its effectiveness is the content. Steve Jobs did not talk about a topic that was boring. In fact, Steve Jobs talked about something that was important for the listeners. As a result they listened attentively and they learned so much from the speech delivered

Works Cited

Jaffe, Clella. Public Speaking: Concepts and Skills for a Diverse Society. CA: Thomson Learning, 2007. Print.