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Stay Hungry – Stay Foolish

Steven Paul "Steve" Jobs

(1955 - 2011) was an American inventor, entrepreneur and the co-founder of Apple Inc.

In 2005 he held the Commencement Address at Stanford University. His speech has since then become iconic, and after his death it has been a great hit in social media.

What Makes a Good Speaker?

The main principle in good rhetoric is how you can appeal to your audience by using ethos – your credibility as a speaker, pathos – your ability to stir emotions, and logos – your ability to challenge common sense and reason.

A good speaker would also employ rhetorical devices such as repetition, metaphors or images, humor, contrasts, connotations, rhythm, irony and facts.

Another aspect that a speaker must always consider is the rhetorical situation, what we call kairos. A speaker has to ask himself: what is the context of the communication? What is it apt to say in the given situation? Who is the audience?

Listen to Steve Jobs' Commencement Address at Stanford University in 2005. What makes it iconic?

Transcript of the commencement address

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs - Connecting All the Dots

Tasks and Activities

Analyze Parts of the Speech

  1. When you start a speech, it is imperative to capture the attention of the audience.
    • How does Steve Jobs accomplish this in his speech?
    • Which rhetorical device does he use?
    • Why is it apt to use this device in the given rhetorical situation?
  2. Jobs announces that he will tell three stories.
    • How does this announcement stir the interest of the listener?
    • What is the main content of these "stories"? In which sense do all the "stories" contain elements of pathos?
    • Which one do you find most moving? Why?
    • How does he avoid the trap of being too sentimental?
  3. The first "story" is introduced in this way: "It is about connecting the dots..."
    • What does he mean by that?
    • In which sense is this a metaphor?
    • Why is this metaphor so powerful - and witty?
    • Is "connecting the dots" what he does with all the three "stories"?
  4. Jobs closes the first "story" by stating: "You can't connect the dots by looking forwards, you can just look backwards." What does he mean, and how is this connected to his calligraphy class?
  5. Hungry, Foolish and Drop-out
    • What connotations do these words normally carry?
    • How does Jobs twist these words?
    • In which way does Jobs establish ethos in spite of being a drop-out, foolish and hungry?
  6. Stay Hungry - Stay Foolish
    • How is the message wrapped up in the appeal?
    • How is this appeal consistent with logos in the speech?
  7. The first "story" is closed by many references to Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken
    • Which references do you find?
    • What do you think Jobs refers to when he says: "And that has made all the difference"? Do you think it is the same as Robert Frost suggests?
    • Which effect does referring to a poem have on an audience.

Write a Blog Entry

  1. There are many references to Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken. Write a blog entry where you post your personal reflections on the theme in Jobs' speech and Frost's poem. The title should be: I took the road less traveled by - and that has made all the difference.
  2. Look at the collage of Steven Jobs. Write a blog entry where you post your personal reflections regarding Steve Jobs and his life and work. The title should be: Connecting All the Dots.

Write a Commencement Speech

You are graduating from High School and the principal has asked you to give the commencement speech. Use what you have learnt about good speeches and rhetorical devices and make an iconic speech, a speech that will be remembered by your teachers and your classmates for years to come. Write the script and record it.

Further Reading