Online Public Speaking

Training & Practice

Oprah Winfrey Harvard Commencement Address

One of the most powerful women in show business and the world, “Oprah” shares insights and experiences with the Harvard graduating class of 2013. Her speech is an excellent example of using a strong presentation style, finding a passionate subject, a well-written speech, and much more. Copy and paste this link to check it out:

Acknowledgments: Ms. Winfrey immediately acknowledges many people in a heartfelt fashion and expresses genuine appreciation for being given the opportunity to present to the audience. This genuine appreciation is noteworthy coming from a woman with unlimited money, influence and opportunity.

Establishing goals and a motivation for giving the presentation: Ms. Winfrey tells the audience right up front that she worked hard to find things to share with the audience that she felt were important and worth of the occasion. She has clearly taken the challenge seriously. It’s safe to say that her goal was to share some of her knowledge and success with the audience while motivating them to reach higher. One gets a sense of how important it is to her to have achieved so much, coming from so little, and that sharing that experience with others means a lot to her.

Sharing a unique perspective with the audience/Picking a passionate subject: Oprah uses anecdotes, challenging concepts, serious issues, and her vast experience to share truly worthwhile information with her audience. Her stories and thoughts interconnect in a meaningful, empowering way.

How to present: Ms. Winfrey’s style is powerful, dynamic, and strong, yet she remains engaging and pleasant to listen to throughout the presentation. She varies her tone and tempo effectively to keep the audience engaged, even singing briefly at one point.

Using humor: Oprah does use humor at times, but humor clearly takes a back seat to serious information that is meant to be motivational and profound.

Length: At 28 minutes this speech could have been on the long side but time passes neither too quickly nor too slowly. The speech ends with the audience seeming to want more.

Was the presentation a success? Resoundingly so. The audience seems enraptured and enlightened by her words.