Analyzing Speec0H Assignment: 2008 Stanford University Commencement Speech

Topics: Graduation, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King Pages: 5 (1760 words) Published: May 28, 2012
Oprah gave the 2008 Stanford University commencement speech focusing on the lessons she learn from her life experiences. The lessons Oprah wanted to share with the 2008 graduating class were be true to who you are, learning from your failures, and finding happiness. Oprah spoke about the importance of service and her life’s dedication to help less fortunate have some of the same opportunities as her and the Stanford graduates. Oprah also gave the graduates advice on how to move forward from failure and how to deal with change. Oprah’s message to the graduates was fame and fortune does not guarantee happiness; you will find happiness by remaining true to yourself and using life’s lesson to move forward.

Oprah started her speech by thanking the school president, faculty, parents, grandparents and Stanford graduates for allowing her to share in the “amazing day.” I thought this opening was very formal but necessary to show respect to all who were included in the graduation ceremonies. By showing respect to all audience participants, Oprah increased the possibility the audience will be attentive and receptive to her message. Attention-Gaining Opener:

Oprah’s attention getter was sharing with the graduating class her goddaughter Kirby Bumpus, Gayle King’s daughter, was a 2008 Stanford graduate. Oprah shared it was the first time she had been allowed on the Stanford campus since her goddaughter enrolled. Oprah shared her goddaughter wanted to be known on her own merits and not as Oprah’s goddaughter. Oprah went on with more childhood stories about her goddaughter for about 10 minutes. Oprah used the technique of telling a personal story to gain the audience attention. All though the goddaughter story started off as an attention-getter; it was too long and should have been cut down. Establishing Credibility:

In the opening of Oprah’s speech she spoke about her not being able to walk with her graduating class at Tennessee State University. Oprah was 1 credit short and did not obtain her degree until much later in life when Tennessee University invited Oprah back to speak at their commencement. Oprah would not give the commencement speech unless she was allowed to complete her coursework and obtain her degree. Oprah sharing a personal story regarding her difficult journey to achieve her degree showed she could identify with them as a college graduate. Oprah establishes herself as credible source to speak about the sometimes challenging road to obtaining a college degree. Three Main Points of the Speech:

Eight minutes into the speech, Oprah gave the three main points her speech would center around. These three main points were repeated several times throughout the speech. The main points were presented to the graduating audience to educate them from Oprah’s own life experiences as well as motivate the graduates to achieve success. The main points given were being true to who you are, learning from your failures, and finding happiness. Oprah stated she could give many more points or life lessons but she would keep the speech focused on these three. Oprah stated: “So, today, I just want to share a few lessons—meaning three—that I've learned in my journey so far. And aren't you glad? Don't you hate it when somebody says, "I'm going to share a few," and it's 10 lessons later? And, you're like, "Listen, this is my graduation. This is not about you." So, it's only going to be three.” ANALYZING THE BODY OF THE SPEECH

Speech Organization:
Oprah’s three main points were repeated often throughout the speech but I felt there were times when she jumped back and forth between the three, making it somewhat difficult to connect the dots at times. Oprah starts with what she calls lesson number one of feelings. Oprah talks about trying to be like Barbara Walters and being asked to change her name to “Susie” because the network didn’t think her name was...
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