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Tim Cook

Rhetorical Political Analysis of a Public Speech

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, participated in the commencement in George Washington University, in May 17, 2015. He delivered an inspirational speech lasting 20 minutes, which invoked laughter and applause among the graduates and established good contact with the audience. The essay analyzes what rhetoric instruments were successfully employed by Tim Cook in the role of an orator. According to James Martin, political rhetorical analysis should comprise three aspects. The first one is rhetorical context implying specific occasion, conditions, and type of the speech. The second is rhetorical argument meaning the moment that ideas are shaped into an argument for an audience (J. Martin, 2015). The third aspect deals with rhetorical effects considering reaction and speech impact interpretation. Therefore, the structure of the current paper consists of three sections that respectively analyze three aspects of the above-mentioned speech.

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The Rhetorical Context

Graduating time is recognized as the time of choice and challenge when a person experiences contradictory emotions. The enormous project named Education is finished, and former students feel exhausted yet proud and happy. They advanced toward their life destination but may still have some doubts regarding the particular application of their qualifications. Furthermore, they may feel lost and uncertain about the next stages of growth and career. Tim Cooks personality represents the vivid embodiment of success in all aspects of this notion and may serve as an authority for graduates who want to achieve happiness and prosperity. This talented manager of the world leading company holds ethical values in life, and with all his heart shares and puts into practice Steve Jobs beliefs on changing the world for the better.

In the very beginning, Mr. Cook underlines the importance of the commencement area. He emphasizes that Washington place has a powerful pull the place where the presidents of America proclaim milestone principles of the entire country (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). Since this amazing place became an initiating point for his life journey, he draws attention to this it in order to transfer the impulse for moving to the audience (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). Furthermore, Tim Cook shares his private experience of the first visit to Washington at the age of 16 which moves him closer to the young audience. Sincere revelation regarding life compass searching and authorities of Dr. Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter are used as a motivation to find the North Star. He is convinced that everyone has to discover oneself and define proper personal values. Here, personal values may be perceived as a means to involve the audience, as everyone may start questioning oneself about their values at the moment of speech. Thus, the rhetorical context of the discussed speech is evident as the background for a core message, or rhetorical argument.

The Rhetorical Argument

Making humorous remarks as well as adopting positive high emotional tone of the speech help to gain the sympathy of the audience and represent the pathos appeals. As soon as the necessity of right values in everyones life is proved and the audience began conscious consideration of values, the argument is revealed naturally and sincerely. Mr. Cook uses ethical appeals when reveals his personal experience of the meeting with Steve Jobs, a person who upended all his assumptions (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). The values of Apple Company are repeated several times during the speech, for instance, The work should be more than just about improving your own self. Its about improving the lives of others as well. (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). The main purpose of Apple is to change the world for better, helping people realize their dreams (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). Mr. Cook compares the company with the individual and invokes to appreciate personal values which are persons North Star. The idea is that individual can also change the world, if his job counts his true moral values, and in this case, progress is possible whatever line of work you choose (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015). Mr. Cook uses repetitions People who three times to broaden the horizons of thinking and to contact the world audience, not only the graduates, their parents and friends, attending the ceremony. The structure of the speech is chronological as Mr. Cook narrates his life journey starting from young years, pointing out the main events such as searching the North Star, education, being adrift and rudderless, meeting Steve Jobs, working for Apple etc.. Evident facts and dates from the history of the richest company in the world and strict chronological order contribute the speechs persuasive tone. Thus, the logic appeal is observed as an instrument and the basic rhetorical argumentation is strong and convincing.

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The Rhetorical Effect

The class 2015 heard the real stories and active example of how one individual can change the world. It is impossible to trace any immediate visible effect of its content on the audience. However, it can be assumed that most graduates were impressed and inspired by honesty and kind support of Tim Cook. There is a high possibility that some of them have already found their North Star and, after this commencement address, their beliefs as well as their self-esteem will become stronger. Supposedly, the self-esteem increases when one realizes their ability to contribute to positive world change. Tim Cook introduced the core message of the narration in the form of paradox: History rarely yields to one person, but think, and never forget, what happens when it does. (Tim Cook to Grads, 2015) This paradox statement, followed by the three-time stressed repetition on you is the strongest moment in the speech. It raises ones spirits, consciousness, as well as awareness of ones own life journey and other people in the world. It gives hope and belief in positive changes in the world. Another assumption regarding rhetorical effects is an obvious promotion of Apple as a company holding prosperous moral values. Tim Cooks speech itself demonstrates practical application of these values – it expands the ideas of world progressive alteration.


Though the speech was not delivered by a politician, the rhetorical analysis was conducted by means of the political approach. An attempt was made to consider all rhetorical context details such as the personality of the speaker, the audience, the time and the place of the speech and possible expectations of the audience. As the commencement address is rather a specific occasion, Mr. Tim Cook presented an astonishing narration that encourages optimism about the future of each graduate and the world. The rhetorical arguments in his speaking consider the variety of instruments such as ethical, logical, pathetical appeals, repetitions, and stressing important moments. Inspiring authorities of Gandhi, Jackie Robinson, Martha Graham, Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart and Miles Davis were used as the examples to follow. Final paradox statement sounded like a life motto for graduates, who can use it in their life journeys remembering that their values and their lives are treasurable for the world. It is highly possible that in nearest future some of them will change the world for the better, as Steve Jobs did and as his corporation continues to do.

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