Analyzing Oprah Winfrey's Commencement Speech

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In Oprah Winfrey’s commencement speech to the Harvard class of 2013, she began by exclaiming how thankful she was to be there, naming the key people responsible for bringing her there, and congratulating the class. Ms. Winfrey then outlined the reason for her speech, which was to provide inspiration to the class as they closed one chapter of life and began the next. Next, she gave a personal story of how she got into the business of journalism. In describing how she got started and then kept raising the bar, she related her ambition and dedication to that of the members of the audience. She went on to describe a very low point in her life where she experienced failure after a lengthy stent of enormous success. She described how she got out…show more content…
At this point she told the story of a heroic child, who had single-handedly raised a large some of money to help other people. She explained that this child’s efforts had inspired her to begin the Angel Network. This story was used to encourage the members of the class to find their purpose in life. For the next several minutes, Ms. Winfrey shared inspirational stories of people and of her show and the Angel Network, to call the audience to action to make a difference in the…show more content…
However, she did add credibility by describing her own life story, including successes, failures, and recovery from failure. She established shared interests with the audience. The fact that she had researched the audience was evident in her mention of “the Quad”, a residential area which is sometimes thought of by the students as inferior. She also made personal references to faculty, which were well received by the crowd. A textbook definition of the term, “audience-centered” was evident throughout this speech. Good organizational structure was used and the subject matter transitioned smoothly from one point to the next. Of course, she took cues from the audience which seemed to influence her delivery

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