Meryl Streep delivers a graduation speech as an intimate chat

The Academy Award-winning actress makes a plea to Barnard College graduates not to shy away from being who they really are, and not to fear using their own minds in public, no matter who’s listening.

Meryl Streep opened her soul to the Barnard College graduating class last Monday. In a compelling commencement speech acknowledging the value of single-sex education, she celebrated both the power of a woman’s perspective and the power of empathy to bring real change.

Ethos, logos, pathos

Her speech employed the classic Aristotelian elements of persuasive public speaking: ethos, logos and pathos.

She used ethos to establish her bona fides as an Academy Award winner and famous actress (albeit a person suffering a fame that separates her from “friends, from reality, from proportion”).

There was minimal logos in the speech. But she did include data from The Economist about women’s effects on economic growth and, tongue in cheek, on the research she’d conducted in high school on how to attract boys with peroxide hair and brand name clothes from the pages of Seventeen and Vogue—decades before the Devil wore Prada!

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