Analysing speech patterns: Steve Jobs

There are many different ways to speak well and many different people who do so. Today, let's look at Steve Jobs's speaking style. 

Analyzing speech patterns is a great way to understand how powerful speakers speak so well. But first, we need to break down the way that English word stress varies. 

In a nutshell, we can stress a word in three ways: 

  1. by making the word length longer or shorter; 
  2. by making the intonation higher or lower; and
  3. by making the volume louder or quieter. 

Within these three variables, you can create a lot of different styles.

Notice that Jobs's volume is constant. He projects his voice loudly but evenly. This shows confidence. 

Next, his intonation goes slightly up, then descends. Jobs uses the descending tone for almost every phrase. It looks like this:

Jobs also makes the final word in each phrase longer. The words life and stories are much longer than the rest. 

Making the final word longer, combined with the descending tone, makes for powerful speech. Play the video here to listen to how he delivers those lines:


Through the rest of the speech, Jobs more or less follows the same speech pattern: the final words are long and descending. 

Listen to the speech in chunks, and try listening to the same chunk a few times at least. If you click on the YouTube video and then press the "J" key, the video will skip back 10 seconds. This is a useful way to shadow specific sections. 

As you listen and repeat, pay attention to the fundamental elements of word stress. You don't have to speak exactly like Steve Jobs, but if you understand how he speaks, it will be a positive influence on your fluency and delivery. 

In a nutshell [idiom]—to summarize briefly

variable [noun]—an element, feature, or factor that can change