Upon graduating from middle school, high school, or college, you could be called upon to address your teachers, peers, and their friends and relatives. It is not always easy to advise a room full of people but, with enough preparation, you can deliver a memorable graduation speech. You can share memories, wise quotes, future plans, or funny anecdotes that your peers will remember for a long time.
Are you the top or most charismatic student in your graduating class? This article provides some guidelines and graduation speech examples that will help you capture and keep your audience’s attention during your graduation speech.
What Is a Graduation Speech?
A graduation speech or commencement address is a written and spoken message prepared and delivered by a graduating student during commencement rites. It is designed to motivate and inspire the graduating class while expressing gratitude to the faculty, friends, and family in attendance. In most cases, the school will provide the student delivering the speech with a template from which to model their address. If not, the student might receive instructions on the length.
Essential Elements of a Graduation Speech
The content of a graduation speech will often vary from institution to institution and depending on the student’s preferences. That said, every address will contain the following elements – albeit delivered in unique ways:
- Introduction – The student identifies themselves by name, class, and graduating honors. They might also briefly explain why they were chosen to give the commencement address.
- Gratitude – This is where the student thanks and recognizes everyone who played a role in their success, including friends, family, peers, alumni, and faculty.
- Anecdote/Short Story – The student may deliver a short story, joke, or anecdote in line with the graduation day theme, usually for comic relief.
- Inspiration – In the inspiration segment, the student addresses their peers and talks about their future, be it in the next level of education or their careers.
- Call to Action – The last part of a graduation speech is a call to action where the speaker may deliver a famous quote or reiterate their inspiration.
Graduation Speech Examples
How to Write
The graduation speech is one of the critical moments during a commencement proceeding but doesn’t usually last very long. This means that while you do need to be compelling, you can’t tackle every question your peers might have or give a monologue of your history at the school. You need to be very precise in your delivery, and this begins with writing a good speech. The following step-by-step guide will help you do this:
Step 1: Find Inspiration
Start by finding something or someone that inspires you and build your theme around them. This could be a successful alumnus, favorite teacher, inspiration speech, or a newspaper article you read last week. Whatever you pick, let it emanate in your remarks and guide you on where to start.
Step 2: Pen Down a Structure
Next, determine the beginning, middle, and end of your speech. You want to start with an attention-grabbing introduction that will draw the audience’s attention to you and keep the body entertaining enough to maintain their interest. You also want to wrap everything up in an unforgettable ending.
Step 3: Choose a Theme
Pick a theme from the inspiration you found in step 1 and build your speech around it. If you want to talk about career success, use anecdotes, jokes, and quotes that are in line with this idea. Doing this will ensure your audience understands what you are talking about at all times during your speech.
Step 4: Be Yourself
If the faculty allows you the stylistic freedom to structure your speech, don’t box yourself in a typical ‘good morning distinguished guests’ speech. Write an address that highlights your unique interests and talents. If you are a standup comedian, deliver some jokes – be yourself.
Step 5: Edit Your Speech
Most people don’t remember everything that was said during their commencement address, but they can quote a line they found funny, insightful, or inspiring. Proofread your speech, eliminate the unimportant lines, and leave a simple, concise message that people will remember.
Step 6: Practice Your Speech
Finally, practice your speech out loud and make changes as you see fit until you are comfortable with it.
High School Graduation Speech Examples
Tips for Writing a Graduation Speech
The thought of standing before your peers and teachers one last time to deliver a speech can seem daunting at first, especially if you have a lot to say. These tips will help you make the most of your opportunity and leave your audience in awe of your speaking skills:
- Before writing your speech, have a brainstorming session to determine what you would like to say to your audience and the best way to deliver your message.
- Condense everything you come up with during your brainstorming session into an engaging and compelling speech that your audience will enjoy.
- Practice your speech several times before graduation day, preferably in front of a mirror or friends and family who can give you honest feedback.
- Use an attention-grabbing introduction line that will leave your audience hungry for more.
- Pick a running theme and let it reflect in your anecdotes, jokes, motivational quotes, and inspirational statements.
- Avoid speaking too fast and take time to enjoy the moment. Calm and collect yourself if you feel nervous, and proceed at a comfortable pace.
- Pause at specific points during your speech to collect your thoughts, emphasize a point, or allow the audience to grasp what you have said.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience, so you don’t lose their attention. If possible, memorize your speech, so you don’t have to keep looking down at your notes.
- Use a lively, engaging, and enthusiastic tone.
- If you make a mistake, don’t panic. Excuse yourself and continue with your speech. You can even make a joke out of the situation to release your tension.
College Graduation Speech Examples
If you are asked to deliver your graduation speech, the goal is to convey your message in an impressive, engaging, and compelling way. You want to leave your teachers and family feeling proud, and your peers motivated. Consider all the tips and pointers in this article – while paying attention to the guidelines provided by your school faculty – and read through some graduation speech examples for inspiration.