3 Lessons from Oprah Winfrey's 2013 Commencement Address

January 21, 2019

From talk show host to cultural icon, it is no secret that Oprah Winfrey knows how to own a stage and captivate an audience. Her 2013 Commencement Address at Harvard University exemplified her presentation expertise, as well as her command of a crowd. Here are 3 lessons every presenter can learn from one of Oprah's most widely-viewed addresses:


 1. Establish Yourself as a Member of Their Community

Oprah introduces herself by sharing her connection to the graduates; while she herself is not Harvard Alumni, she offers insight into her own experiences of celebration. Oprah shares how she celebrates alongside the graduates, as their shared community will benefit from what the class offers.

 2. Help Your Audience Relax

In her address, Oprah fully acknowledges the stress, excitement, and anxiety the graduates must be feeling. She draws upon her own feelings of transitional anxiety, thus creating credibility by humanizing herself. 

 3. Play into Emotions

It is no secret that graduations are highly emotional events, and Oprah harnesses her own emotions regarding the future when relating to the graduates. She validates their anxious energy, and encourages them to utilize their emotions as inspiration for a brighter future.


Looking for more information on relevant presentation skills? Check out the Dog and Pony Show blog post on how to utilize minimalism within slide design!

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