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How to Write a Graduation Speech (Graduation Speech Examples)

Have you been asked to deliver a commencement speech? Or have you worked your butt off to become valedictorian or salutatorian, and now you have to deliver a graduation speech? In this post, we will cover one of the more challenging types of presentation creation: How to Write a Graduation Speech . (By the way, I have also included a few popular graduation speech examples as a guide for you.)

This post is a continuation of our How to Create a Presentation series. We are going to break this post down into three parts, though. We will show you how to create a commencement speech in this post. Next week, I’ll show you how to write a valedictorian speech and how to deliver a salutatorian speech. Each of these graduation speeches has a slightly different purpose, but all of them need to be inspirational and funny.

How to Write a Commencement Speech

The commencement speech is often the keynote speech of the graduation ceremony. This presentation should be uplifting and entertaining, but this graduation speech should also teach a life lesson to the graduating students. If you do a search on YouTube of the best graduation speeches, many of these speakers will be famous comedians. When a comedian delivers a commencement speech, and the speech is posted on YouTube, it will always get a ton of views. The humor alone will make people want to watch the video. Three of the most popular of these speeches are by Conan O’Brien, Will Ferrell, and Ellen DeGeneres. The interesting thing about the speeches from these famous comedians is that, yes, they are funny, but the inspiration comes from what they learned from their failures.

“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life life trying to push you in another direction.” Oprah Winfrey, Harvard University Commencement Speech

A Good Structure When You Write a Commencement Address

Thank the crowd.

Start with Something Funny

How Humor helps your speech

Be Inspirational

The inspirational part of your commencement speech will come from the theme of the graduation speech . (For Sample Graduation Speech Themes , see the section below.) The easiest way to develop a theme is to look for an inspirational famous quote about success. You can do this by just going to Google and type in “success quotes”. Once you come up with a great quote, you can either paraphrase the quote and make it your own or quote the original speaker.

Inspire others with your speech

Tell Stories from Your Own Experience Related to Your Quote (Theme).

This the most important part of how to write a graduation speech. The stories and examples are what the audience will remember. These stories add emotion and inspiration to your graduation speech. They also help you build rapport with the audience. Finally, these stories make your delivery much easier. You don’t have to memorize a lot of material. Instead, just play the video in your head of what happened and describe the incident to the graduates.

For a great example of this, watch the YouTube video on Stanford University’s channel where Steve Jobs gives the commencement speech. I love this speech, because Jobs skips the introduction and the funny stuff and starts his speech with the following. “I’m going to tell you three stories.” It’s simple, and the crowd loves him.

End with an Inspirational Call to Action.

How to end a graduation speech

So as you go on to the next stage in your life and you experience failure… because you will experience failure, use that as a stepping stone to your next success. Persevere. Don’t rest on that success. Use it as a stepping stone to your next success. Persevere, and you will experience a series of successes and failures that will allow you to accomplish something great!”

Use this outline to create a simple 20 to 30 minute speech. (The shorter the better… No one gets a diploma until you finish.)

Sample Graduation Speech Themes

Inspiration comes from failure

If you are having trouble coming up with a theme for your graduation speech, here are a few Sample Commencement Speech Themes. As you read through them, think about which them or quote has been most applicable in your career? Once you choose a graduation speech them, use the outline above to create your speech.

  • Hard Work Leads to Success
“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” — Coleman Cox
  • Create Your Own Path.
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” — Herman Melville
  • Make Things Happen.
“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” — Henry David Thoreau
  • Don’t Settle for Average. Strive for Greatness.
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” –John D. Rockefeller
  • Don’t Wait for the Perfect Opportunity. Look for a Way to Create Your Own Opportunity.
“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” — Chris Grosser/blockquote> The Road Ahead is Hard, But It Leads to Success. “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” — Jim Rohn
  • Focus on Your Dream.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” — Bruce Lee
  • Learn from Every Mistake to Move Toward Success.
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” — Conrad Hilton
  • When Your Why is Big Enough, Your How Will Appear.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” — Jim Rohn
  • Happiness is the Key to Success.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” — Albert Schweitzer

Use the Speech Creator as a Guide to How to Create a Graduation Speech

Once you have chosen a them, and you have a few stories to inspire your audience, use our Online Speech Writer to help you organize your thoughts. (It’s free.)

writing about graduation speech

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How to Write and Deliver a Memorable Graduation Speech: Tips, Examples, and Techniques

  • The Speaker Lab
  • March 7, 2024

Table of Contents

The goal of any graduation speech is to find words that capture the essence of years spent learning and growing. Today, we’ll guide you through that process and help you craft a memorable graduation speech . You’ll learn to weave gratitude with shared experiences, and balance humor with wisdom. We’ll even help you find quotes that strike a chord and deliver them in a way that resonates.

But that’s not all! Dive into proven strategies for public speaking, managing stage fright, and drawing inspiration from iconic commencement speeches. Discover how personal growth stories add depth to your message and explore themes that leave a lasting impact on your peers as they step forward into new beginnings.

Crafting Your Graduation Speech: A Step-by-Step Guide

When it comes to marking the end of your high school or university journey, a graduation speech can capture the essence of this pivotal moment. But how do you start such an important address?

Opening with Impact

The first words of your graduation speech are crucial. They set the stage for what’s to come and grab your audience’s attention. Think about starting strong by sharing a personal anecdote that ties into the broader experience of your class or drawing from Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech , where he began with, “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life.” This technique instantly piques interest because it promises narratives that have shaped who you are.

An impactful opening also acknowledges shared experiences. Perhaps you could reflect on how moments in classrooms turned strangers into lifelong friends. Or for university commencements, consider touching upon those late-night study sessions that tested perseverance but ultimately led to academic achievements worth celebrating today.

Building the Body of Your Graduation Speech

In crafting the body content, intertwine lessons learned throughout high school years or during university courses with aspirations for what lies ahead. For instance, share how overcoming obstacles like balancing extracurricular activities and academics taught valuable time management skills.

To add depth, incorporate quotes from luminaries like Oprah Winfrey or draw parallels between classroom learnings and real-world applications. Dive deeper by discussing milestones achieved together as a graduating class and recognizing the hard work everyone put in to make it to this monumental occasion.

Concluding with Inspiration

Your conclusion should leave fellow graduates feeling inspired while helping them celebrate high school memories one last time—or honor those unforgettable college years if addressing higher education grads.

Closing remarks could include heartfelt gratitude towards teachers’ support and parental guidance. You might even crack a joke or two. It’s these personalized touches paired with universal truths that resonate most deeply as students step forward into new chapters post-graduation.

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Delivery Techniques for Confident Speaking

Standing in front of a crowd can turn even the most composed student into a bundle of nerves. But fear not, with some smart strategies, you’ll be able to channel your inner orator and deliver your graduation speech with confidence.

Practicing Your Graduation Speech

Becoming familiar with every word of your speech is key. Rehearse it out loud until the words feel like second nature. This practice does more than just help you remember what comes next; it lets you find the natural rhythm and pace of your delivery. Consider recording yourself to catch any quirks or stumbling blocks—you might be surprised at how much this helps refine your presentation.

A trick often overlooked is practicing in different environments. If possible, stand on the actual stage where you will deliver your commencement address. Familiarity breeds comfort, making that once daunting podium seem like an old friend when graduation day arrives.

Overcoming Nervousness and Stage Fright

Nervousness is normal but doesn’t let it dictate your performance. Before stepping up to speak, take deep breaths to steady yourself—a calm body encourages a calm mind. An effective method for easing anxiety is visualization. Imagine delivering each line perfectly and receiving an enthusiastic response from listeners—envisioning success can make it so.

Maintaining Eye Contact

The power of eye contact cannot be overstated. It connects speaker and listener on a personal level that amplifies engagement significantly. Scan across different sections of the audience periodically without lingering too long on any one individual.

Incorporate these techniques diligently when preparing for the big day. In doing so, they become part of muscle memory and help build confidence. With confidence and plenty of practice on your side, your graduation speech is sure to conclude to applause leaving you to celebrate yet another milestone achieved.

Analyzing Renowned Graduation Speeches for Inspiration

When crafting a commencement speech, it’s often helpful to look at the giants whose words have echoed through auditoriums and across campuses. Steve Jobs’ Stanford University Commencement Speech is a classic example of weaving life lessons into an address that connects deeply with graduates. Similarly, Oprah Winfrey’s Harvard University Commencement Address showed how stumbling blocks can become stepping stones if we learn from them.

Steve Jobs’ Storytelling Mastery

Jobs had a knack for turning personal anecdotes into universal truths. In his Stanford address, he shared three stories from his own life without sounding self-indulgent. These stories worked because each one carried a broader message relevant to every graduate: finding what you love, dealing with loss, and facing death head-on. Jobs famously urged students to “stay hungry, stay foolish,” encouraging them not just to pursue success but remain curious about life despite challenges. This advice is especially poignant for today’s graduating class.

Like Jobs, you too can craft narratives around moments that speak volumes about perseverance and passion.

Oprah’s Unflinching Honesty

Much like her television persona suggests, Oprah did not shy away from discussing her setbacks in front of Harvard’s graduating class. Instead, she confidently laid bare the challenges faced by anyone who dares greatly because failure is part of achieving greatness. As she reminded students, “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise… At some point you are bound to stumble.”

In doing so she forged an instant connection with listeners grappling with their fears about what the future holds post-graduation. It was a powerful reminder that even icons like Oprah are not immune to trials but emerge stronger through them.

The power behind these speeches lies not just in their content but also in their delivery. These speakers mastered the art of speaking confidently before crowds, maintaining eye contact, and conveying authenticity—techniques any speaker should aspire to replicate on graduation day.

Themes and Messages That Resonate with Graduates

Facing a sea of caps and gowns, the right words can turn a graduation ceremony from mundane to memorable. When crafting your commencement speech, focusing on themes like overcoming obstacles and perseverance connects deeply with graduates who have hurdled high school or college challenges.

Overcoming Obstacles

Talking about stumbling blocks is not just relatable; it’s inspirational. Think Steve Jobs at Stanford University or Oprah Winfrey at Harvard—both shared personal tales of setbacks turned into comebacks. Beyond simply telling their stories, they showed how those hurdles were stepping stones to success.

Weave your narrative around the potholes you’ve navigated during your high school years. This doesn’t mean airing every bit of dirty laundry, just highlighting that one significant moment where everything seemed against you yet failed to defeat you.

The Power of Perseverance

Perseverance is more than sticking to something—it’s pushing forward when every fiber wants to quit. It resonates because everyone, including your fellow graduates, has felt that urge to give up but chose to persevere instead.

Incorporate this theme by using vivid examples that mirror collective experiences—the all-nighters before exams or balancing sports stars ambitions with academics—to illustrate perseverance isn’t just an idea but lived reality for many students.

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Life Lessons Shared During Graduation Speeches

In addition to sharing content that fellow graduates will find relatable and inspirational, you should also consider sharing life lessons with your audience. Whether young or old, everyone has a unique perspective on life and sharing your wisdom can steer graduates toward a fulfilling path.

The Power of Kindness

Making a positive impact doesn’t require grand gestures; sometimes it’s found in small acts of kindness or an innovative idea that simplifies lives. This message sticks because everyone wants their work to mean something—to know they’ve left footprints on society’s vast canvas.

True Grit and Tenacity

Embracing failure and resilience is another powerful theme echoed by commencement speakers across podiums. Let’s face it; not all endeavors lead straight to success. But as Oprah Winfrey once said during her Harvard University commencement address, “It doesn’t matter how far you might rise… At some point, you are bound to stumble.” Her words remind us: How we pick ourselves up matters more than how we fall.

Making a Positive Impact

A graduating class stands poised on tomorrow’s threshold ready to mold history—and speeches should fuel this transformative fire within them. Memorable graduation speeches show individuals that ovation-worthy achievements are possible if you believe your actions count.

As you prepare your graduation speech, consider including one of these life lessons or one of your own. Don’t be afraid to share your hard-won insights to your fellow graduates—you just might inspire them to make history.

Celebrating Achievements and Acknowledging Contributions

Graduation is not just a ceremony. It’s a tribute to the academic achievements and extracurricular activities that have shaped students into who they are. The acknowledgment of teacher support and parental guidance also plays a pivotal role in these speeches, as they’re the scaffolding upon which student successes are built.

Academic Achievements, Extracurricular Activities

Acknowledging academic prowess goes beyond GPA scores or honor societies; it’s about highlighting unique intellectual journeys. Similarly, shining a light on extracurricular triumphs—be it sports stars setting records or artists winning competitions—adds depth to your speech. Remembering these moments isn’t merely recounting victories but celebrating the relentless spirit of your fellow graduates.

Diving deeper into personal anecdotes helps you connect with peers by reminding them of their growth through challenges faced together—from late-night study sessions to championship games. It’s these stories that make graduation memories stick with classmates long after commencement ends.

Teacher Support, Parental Guidance

The unsung heroes behind every graduate deserve their moment in your address too. Teachers’ dedication can turn classrooms into launch pads for dreams, while parents’ unwavering belief often fuels aspirations during tumultuous times like the pandemic.

In weaving tales of mentorship from teachers or wisdom imparted by parents, you remind everyone that success is rarely a solo act—it’s supported by many hands and hearts along the way. Celebrate this collective effort because each person has contributed uniquely to shaping graduating classes across America, including yours.

Common Issues in Writing and Delivering Graduation Speeches

Staring at a blank page as the clock ticks down to graduation day can rattle even the most seasoned speech writers. Overcoming writer’s block is about finding your message stick—the core idea that you want to leave with your peers. Remember, this isn’t just any talk; it’s one that marks a significant transition for both you and your audience.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Finding yourself stumped on how to write a speech ? Don’t sweat it. Start by jotting down memories from school years or powerful life lessons that resonate. Think of Steve Jobs’ Stanford University commencement speech where he shared personal stories, which became an inspirational backbone for many other speeches.

If inspiration doesn’t strike immediately, step away from the computer. Take a walk and reflect on high school experiences or browse through commencement speeches archives—like Lin-Manuel Miranda’s address at the University of Pennsylvania. They might spark ideas you hadn’t considered yet.

Navigating Technical Troubles

A great speech can stumble over technical hiccups. To avoid glitches, check all equipment beforehand—a simple but crucial task often overlooked due to nerves or excitement about graduating class celebrations.

Prior rehearsals will also let you handle these issues like a pro should they pop up during delivery. Make sure any videos or slides complement rather than overshadow what you’re saying. After all, graduates aren’t there for bells and whistles—they’re there for meaningful words.

Handling Stage Fright

Your knees may shake thinking delivering in front of proud parents and peers—it’s no small feat, after all. Before you step on stage, visual your success until it feels more real and attainable.

And don’t forget to watch your body language. During your speech, maintain eye contact—not stare-downs—to connect genuinely with fellow students. And if anxiety creeps up despite practice sessions? Take deep breaths to steady yourself and keep going. You’ve handled high school—you can handle this.

FAQs on Writing and Delivering a Graduation Speech

What do i say in my graduation speech.

Share heartfelt stories, acknowledge support from others, and inspire your classmates to chase their dreams boldly.

How do you write a 3 minute graduation speech?

Keep it tight: hit the high notes with gratitude, shared memories, a dash of humor, and wrap up with punchy inspiration.

How do I start a graduation speech?

Kick off with thanks. Give props to family and mentors. Set the stage for reflecting on past adventures together.

What is the most important message of a graduation speech?

The core should spark hope—urge peers to leap into tomorrow equipped with lessons learned during these formative years.

Master your moment with a graduation speech that turns heads and warms hearts. Remember the power of gratitude and connect with your audience through stories, those shared adventures that bind you to your classmates. Don’t be afraid to add a few jokes and quotes to your speech either, as well as personal growth stories to inspire.

When you hit the stage, stand tall, make eye contact, and speak from your heart—the podium’s yours. If butterflies invade, breathe deep and know everyone’s rooting for you. Writer’s block didn’t stop you and neither will this.

Your graduation speech is not just words—it’s a battle cry for your graduating class as you prepare to conquer what lies ahead!

  • Last Updated: March 5, 2024

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10 Steps For Writing An Unforgettable Graduation Speech

  • Pick A Theme
  • Begin With Gratitude
  • Motivational Quotes
  • Get Personal
  • Add Your Personality
  • Avoid Cliches
  • Create A Call To Action

School is almost out, but for many students, there’s one more major task to complete before summer: graduation. Whether you’re graduating from high school or earning a college degree, a graduation ceremony is a huge milestone. And, if you’ve been asked to speak at graduation, you might be feeling the pressure right now.

Graduation speeches of all kinds date back to at least the 1600s, and though a lot has changed since then, these kinds of speeches still contain similar key elements that help make them effective, inspiring, and something every graduating student and their loved ones look forward to.

Public speaking can be nerve-racking in any setting, particularly when you know the audience is filled with people’s cousins and grandparents who are likely to remember this day forever, but fear not! We’re here to help with these 10 key steps to follow to write and deliver a truly unforgettable graduation speech.

1. Pick a theme.

If you want the audience to feel moved and inspired by your speech (Who doesn’t, right?), then it helps to build your speech around a central theme or message. Think about what’s important to you as the speaker and what you’d like others to take away from your words. Once you have a theme, it will be easier to select the quotes and anecdotes that tie back to that central idea and create a speech that leaves your audience in awe.

🎓 Here are some popular themes to consider:

  • Embracing failure.
  • Overcoming adversity.
  • The importance of having big dreams.
  • Facing change with grace.
  • Taking responsibility for your future.
  • Learning from past mistakes.
  • The importance of friendship.
  • Becoming a lifelong learner.

2. Begin with gratitude.

When you step up to the mic on graduation day, you’ll need to begin with a few formalities. First, thank the previous speakers, as well as everyone in attendance. Then, express your feelings about the privilege of being asked to address the audience on this momentous occasion. Go ahead and write this part down so you don’t forget to do it on the big day. Here are some examples:

Thank you, [name of previous speaker], and thank you, friends, family, faculty, and fellow graduates for being here today. It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone with you as your valedictorian.

Thank you, [name of previous speaker]. Graduates, loved ones, and distinguished faculty members, it is an honor to be here with you today. I’m so grateful to [name of school or university] for the privilege of being your [type of speaker].

3. Use a motivational quote.

The greatest commencement speeches typically include a motivational quote, whether it’s from a famous person, a beloved teacher, or something your grandfather taught you. The right motivational quote will tie into your theme and serve as a thesis statement for the message you hope the audience will take from your words. Consider these celebrity quotes from other powerful commencement speeches:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” — Steve Jobs , Stanford University, 2005

“You must lead. You’re never too young to lead. You’re never too old to lead. We need your leadership now more than ever before.” — John Lewis , Harvard, 2018

“The day you graduate, you do not arrive. This is not the end. This is the beginning for you. To graduate is to change gradually.” — Rita Moreno , Northeastern Illinois University, 2015

“Ultimately, your life is made up of moments. So don’t miss them by being lost in the past or anticipating the future.” — Jessica Lange , Sarah Lawrence College, 2008

“You are full of complexities and wonders that haven’t even begun to surface. Life’s unpredictability will draw these out and what defines you now will be mere shades and hues of a more vibrant you over the next five, 10, 50 years. Honestly, I can’t think of anything more liberating than that, knowing that life will look differently than you think it will.” — Octavia Spencer , Kent State University, 2017

4. Get personal.

When Conan O’Brien delivered the commencement speech at Dartmouth University in 2011, he talked about being fired from his dream job and what that failure taught him. Some lauded it as one of the best graduation speeches of all time.

Sharing personal anecdotes, even ones that mention failures or humiliations, is a powerful way to connect with your audience and drive your message home in a personal way. When writing your speech, draw on your experiences as a student and be clear about how those experiences shaped and prepared you for what lies ahead.

Learn how to a sensational graduation card here.

5. Infuse your personality.

Graduation speeches may follow a formula, but that doesn’t mean they need to be boring! Use your personal sense of humor, unique story, and life experiences to give the speech character and charm. What does this look like in action?

In 2016, author John Green brought levity to his commencement speech when shared with the graduating class at Kenyon College that the best life advice he ever got was, “You’re a good kid, but you need to learn when to stop talking.”

At the University of Virginia in 2016, late night host Stephen Colbert joked that people should leave their cell phones on because “I wouldn’t want you to miss a text or a tweet while I’m giving my speech.”

You may not be a famous comedian or author, but being uniquely yourself can help your speech shine.

6. Reflect, then look ahead.

You and the rest of your graduating class are sharing a major life milestone, and you’ve all worked hard to get to this point. What has life been like during your years in school? What experiences have you shared, and how have those shaped you as people moving forward into the next phase of your life?

In your speech, include real-life examples of the things you’ve faced in your time as students. Put those events in context in your life, and remind your audience that you have all learned so much more than just what was on the course syllabi.

7. Avoid clichés

The tricky part of writing a graduation speech is being inspiring without resorting to clichés. If you use personal anecdotes and weave personality into your speech, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall back on tired, overused statements. But, sometimes they still sneak in. If that’s the case, try to swap them out with a fresher take.

Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of talking about the “real world” as a future destination, talk about how you already live there and you’re ready for whatever life throws at you.
  • Instead of defining a typical graduation word (like courage or future ), talk about the words that come to mind when you think about school and what they mean to you.
  • Instead of talking about what you’re “leaving behind,” talk about what lessons and people you’re taking with you.

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8. Create a call to action.

Graduation speeches serve two important purposes: celebrating everything that came before graduation day and building excitement for everything that will come after it. The easiest way to leave people inspired is to include a call to action. This doesn’t mean providing strict instructions for some task they must complete. Think of it more as broad instructions for how to meet the challenges ahead.

Your call to action should restate the theme of your speech and give the audience a clear takeaway message to carry with them. Need some examples? We have a few:

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. For life is time, and time is all there is.” — Gloria Steinem , Tufts University, 1987

“Let excellence be your brand.” — Oprah Winfrey , Spelman College, 2012

“Fight for the job you want, fight for the people who mean the most to you and fight for the kind of world you want to live in.” — Elizabeth Warren , Suffolk University, 2016

9. Keep it brief.

While you surely have a lot of great things to say, no one wants to sit through a 12-page speech. Graduation ceremonies are already long, and the audience is usually asked to listen to multiple speeches. Keep this in mind, and say what you’d like to say in the briefest way possible. Aim for a speech that falls between 500 and 750 words, and time yourself to make sure you don’t exceed 10 minutes during delivery.

10. Practice, practice, practice.

The only way to ensure your speech flows, makes sense, and holds people’s attention is to practice reading it out loud. Practice by yourself in front of a mirror, being careful to notice and edit any places where you trip over words or have awkward pauses. Once you’ve perfected the solo read-aloud, ask a parent or friend to serve as an audience. This will help you test out your jokes and polish your anecdotes based on their reactions. By graduation day, you’ll be ready to take to the stage like a pro.

Need more inspiration? These graduation quotes should do the trick.

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Have you ever stood at the threshold of a new journey, feeling a mix of excitement and uncertainty? 

Well, if you're a soon-to-be graduate, that's probably exactly how you're feeling right now.

The big day is coming, and you're wondering, 'How will I write my speech? Can I ask for speech writing help?

Don’t worry!

In this blog, we're going to tell you how to write a graduation speech for students. Get ready to discover the secrets of crafting a graduation speech that not only captures your audience's attention but also leaves a profound impact on your fellow graduates.

Let's transform that uncertainty into inspiration and confidence as we delve into the art of delivering a speech that will make your graduation day truly unforgettable.

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  • 1. What is a Graduation Speech?
  • 2. How to Write a Graduation Speech?
  • 3. Graduation Speeches From Notable Figures 
  • 4. Graduation Speech Examples for Students 
  • 5. Graduation Speech Ideas - 2023
  • 6. Graduation Speech Writing Tips 

What is a Graduation Speech?

A graduation speech is the heart of your big day, bringing together all your experiences and achievements. 

It's more than just talking – it's a way to inspire and celebrate. It's not just a tradition. This type of speech is a chance to share what you've learned and dream about the future.

Your graduation speech should include everyone – your friends, the tough times you all faced, and the good times you shared. 

Elements of Graduation Speech

Creating a memorable graduation speech involves several key elements that can help you connect with your audience and make a lasting impression. 

Here are the crucial elements you should consider:

All these elements make a strong and memorable speech and help make your graduation successful.

How to Write a Graduation Speech?

Writing an inspirational graduation speech that stands out isn't as daunting as it may seem. 

With a structured approach and a dash of creativity, you can deliver the best special occasion speech that leaves a lasting impact on your audience. 

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to start a graduation speech and create an inspiring address:

Begin with a Memorable Opening 

Start with an attention-grabbing quote, a personal anecdote, or a thought-provoking question. 

This sets the tone for your speech and captures your audience's interest right from the beginning.

Express Gratitude 

Show appreciation to your teachers, parents, and fellow students. 

Express how their support and contributions have been instrumental in your academic journey. This sets a positive and grateful tone for your speech.

Reflect on Meaningful Moments 

Share personal stories and school experiences that have had a significant impact on your life and the lives of your classmates. 

Use these anecdotes to connect with your audience emotionally.

Offer Words of Inspiration 

Provide words of inspiration and motivation. Encourage your fellow graduates to embrace the future with confidence and courage.

Use stories or quotes to illustrate your points.

Share Practical Advice 

Share life lessons and any advice you've learned during your academic journey. 

Offer insights related to pursuing goals, overcoming challenges, and maintaining a positive outlook on life.

Emphasize Unity and Shared Experiences 

Highlight the importance of unity and the bonds formed with your classmates. 

Emphasize the strength of collective experiences and friendships that have been a significant part of your school life.

Discuss Hopes and Dreams 

Talk about your hopes and dreams for the future, both for yourself and your fellow graduates. Paint a vivid picture of the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

End with an Inspiring Conclusion 

Conclude your speech with a memorable message that resonates with your audience. 

Leave them with a lasting impression or a call to action that inspires them to take on the future with enthusiasm.

Graduation Speeches From Notable Figures 

Notable figures, from celebrities to accomplished professionals, often deliver inspiring graduation speeches, sharing their wisdom, experiences, and advice with the graduates. 

In this section, we explore some remarkable graduation speeches that have left a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.

Taylor Swift Graduation Speech 

Taylor Swift, the renowned singer-songwriter, delivered an inspiring graduation speech that emphasized embracing change and authenticity. 

Her words have motivated graduates worldwide, making her speech a source of valuable life lessons.

“The times I was told no or wasn’t included, wasn’t chosen, didn’t win, didn’t make the cut…looking back, it really feels like those moments were as important, if not more crucial, than the moments I was told ‘yes.’ …” 

Watch complete graduation speech here: 

Rory Gilmore Graduation Speech 

Rory Gilmore, a beloved fictional character from the TV series "Gilmore Girls," delivered a heartwarming graduation speech that celebrated the value of hard work, ambition, and the pursuit of dreams. 

Her speech remains an iconic moment in the series and a testament to the power of perseverance and ambition.

Watch her graduation speech here:

Ree Drummond - Oklahoma State University 

Ree Drummond, known as "The Pioneer Woman," shared her insights and wisdom in a graduation speech delivered in 2022. 

Her address offers a unique perspective on life, success, and the pursuit of dreams, making it a valuable resource for graduates seeking inspiration and guidance as they set out on their own paths.

Listen to the complete speech in this video:

Steve Jobs - 2005 

Steve Jobs' iconic 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University delivered invaluable life lessons and inspiration. 

His words continue to resonate with graduates and individuals worldwide, offering timeless guidance on pursuing one's passions and creating a meaningful life.

Check out his complete speech in this video: 

Graduation Speech Examples for Students 

Looking for inspiration for your own graduation speech? Here is a short graduation speech:

Read some more diverse graduation speech samples to spark your creativity:

Graduation Speech for Kindergarten - Example

Short Graduation Speech

Graduation Speech for Kids

Graduation Speech For Primary 6

8th Grade Graduation Speech

High School Graduation Speech

Explore a collection of inspiring graduation speeches, each offering a unique perspective on this momentous occasion.

Graduation Speech by Students - Example

Graduation Speech for Parents - Example

Graduation Speech by Teacher - Example

Graduation Speech by Principal- Example

Graduation Speech Thanking Teachers

Graduation Speech Ideas - 2023

Here are some interesting and fun graduation speech ideas.

  • Talk about a current school event.
  • Try something new like poetry or metaphors to make your speech interesting.
  • Tell a story about your class, for example, ‘what was the driving force of the class of 2021?’
  • Use quotes from famous and classic books.
  • Use lyrics from the class anthem.
  • Be inspirational and share an inspirational story.
  • Share a humorous experience.
  • Convey a memorable message.
  • If appropriate, add a song with meaning.
  • Appreciate a fellow classmate or a teacher.
  • Connect your speech with your 1st day at school.
  • Significant events that took place in the school.
  • A professor that made you fall in love with a major subject.
  • The long time you spent in the school library and how it impacted your interactions with other students.
  • Tell me about who inspired you the most in your life.

Graduation Speech Writing Tips 

Crafting a memorable graduation speech can be a rewarding yet challenging task. Here are some essential tips to help you write an impactful and engaging speech for your big day:

  • Know Your Audience: Understanding your audience is crucial to tailor your speech effectively.
  • Start Strong: An attention-grabbing beginning sets the tone for your speech.
  • Tell Personal Stories: Personal anecdotes and experiences create a meaningful connection.
  • Inspire and Motivate: Your speech should encourage confidence about the future.
  • Share Practical Advice: Offering practical life advice adds value to your speech.
  • Embrace Humor: Appropriately used humor can engage your audience.
  • Be Concise: Keeping your speech at an appropriate length is essential to maintain interest.
  • Practice and Rehearse: Preparation ensures confidence in your delivery.
  • End on a High Note: A memorable conclusion leaves a lasting impression.

As you take that first step forward, congratulations on your graduation, and we wish you the best of luck in whatever comes next. We hope this graduation speech guide has given you some pointers for what to say in your speech.

If you need further help, you can avail of our assistance and get your speech before the big day.

At , one of the best " write my essay services ", we help new graduates make their day memorable by delivering quality speeches.

Buy speech from us and get ready to shine.

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How to Write a Memorable Graduation Speech

by Sue Weems | 0 comments

If you're lucky enough to be asked to speak at a commencement ceremony, at any level, you know the pressure of writing a memorable speech with broad appeal that fits within the time constraints. But how to write a graduation speech that doesn't bore, drag, or flop? Here's a secret: use your storytelling skills to write a great graduation speech.

writing about graduation speech

As a teacher, I have probably heard close to a hundred commencement speeches—those five to twenty minute addresses full of life lessons, inspirational quotes and if we're lucky, funny stories. But more often than not, they fall pieced together clichés and motivational quotes. Forgettable.

The secret to writing a memorable graduation speech? Storytelling. Today let's look at how to use storytelling to write a memorable graduation speech.

A Speech to Remember

Out of all those school graduation speeches I've heard, I can honestly say I only remember one or two. One in particular always leaps to my mind.

A few years ago, a high school senior who had been selected by his peers as a graduation speaker told a story about playing a game with a childhood friend—a game where they pretended to be construction workers. A game they called “builders.”

He recounted their exploits in the sand box: moving dirt, building small stick structures, and working together to make something new. We laughed at his vivid imagery, each remembering our own toy trucks and shovels and play. 

He shifted from that childhood game to the class memories they had built together as students through the years, continuing to develop the theme of building a life.

And then he revealed that his childhood friend—his fellow builder—should have been sitting with their graduating class that day. He'd died in an accident a year before. The speaker closed with a challenge to his fellow students to remember their peer and to be builders—people who create things that outlast them.

The entire stadium went wild as the student graduation speech ended. I couldn't stop the tears flowing down my cheeks. When I saw the student speaker later, I thanked him for his speech, for sharing his love for his friend, for his story that struck such a hopeful note. 

It reminded me that human experience is best related not in quippy inspirational quotes strung together, but in stories. If you're asked to be a commencement speaker, here are a few storytelling principles that will help you write a great graduation speech. 

5 Steps to Write a Memorable Graduation Speech

1. consider the occasion and audience.

A speech for an elementary promotion ceremony has a much different focus and audience than one for a post-graduate ceremony. Just like when you write a story, take time to think about the target audience. 

Who are they? What are they celebrating? How can you meet their expectations for the day and commemorate them in a special way?

When my student gave his speech about his builder friend, he knew he was speaking to his peers, but he had an awareness that their families and teachers were also present. 

2. Choose a story

Here's where most speeches go wrong: they don't ground the remarks in a story. Sure, a lot of speeches rely on favorite quotes, but those are easily forgettable. Stories are how the human brain makes sense of the world; we're hardwired to remember stories.

Dig into your personal experiences, school memories, or other life experience. Usually, you want a true story, a personal story for this kind of speech.  

How do you choose?

When I help students with speeches or any kind of personal narrative writing, I always ask them to make a list of moments where they made a choice that changed their lives for better or worse. 

If you can't think of one, consider a time you watched first-hand as someone else made a significant choice and what it taught you. 

A story depends on a goal and a tough choice (remember dilemma ?)—that's what creates the significance. But you'll also want to choose a story that will emotionally connect with the audience. 

What story can you tell using vivid images that left you changed or taught you something valuable that would resonate with this audience? That's the story to choose.

3. Build a structure and tell the story

Once you know the story you want to tell, use what you know about premise to structure and tell the story first and then build out the rest of the speech around it. 

A premise outlines a character with a goal who meets conflict and has to act until they reach a crisis point and must make a tough decision creating a resolution. 

The length of the story will depend on the time constraints, but you won't be able to delve deeply into backstory or give a prologue. You're going to have to set the scene quickly and get the story in motion. 

An example: I once gave a speech to a group of students (and their families) who were being honored for their resilience and hard work. Most had found themselves  with failing grades and low confidence at one point in the year, but with their hard work and the help of their families and teachers, they had turned it around.  I told the story of a time my daughter was in middle school taking a challenging math class. We would sit at the kitchen table while she insisted she couldn't do the work, it was too hard, etc. It went on for a couple weeks, and we were both so frustrated. I realized I had a choice: I needed to remind her that this was her challenge and that SHE had a couple of different routes (or choices) to solve it.  She could drop the class. She could spend all year crying at the table, slogging through the work and pass it somehow. Or, she could remember that anytime something is new, it's hard, and she could do her best, knowing it would get easier with time—just like riding her bike.

Once I had told the story, I connected it to their experience. I congratulated them on learning so early that they could do far more than they first believed and that hard work and practice makes new tasks easier.

At the end, I told them I hoped they would remember this moment of recognition the next time they thought something was hard. 

Once you know the story you want to tell your audience, build a simple intro to connect it to their experience. After the story, draw out the insight and connect to the event (in this case, their graduation). 

4. Lean into theme

The student who gave the memorable builder speech I shared above leaned into a key theme : building something that lasts. It was the point of his story and he used it as an illustration across different ages to show how the childhood lessons they learned had staying power.

You can choose a common theme , but know that your story will make the application unique. Also, don't feel like you have to state the theme over and over. If the story and insight are strong, stating the theme once might be enough. 

5. Revise to get clear and concise

To revise a speech, I look at two things: the time it takes to deliver and the clarity of the story. I always try to err on the side of speaking for LESS time than I am allotted. This gives space in the speech for audience reaction. 

I typically write speeches out in short chunks of text, and I go through and group them:

  • connection or insight
  • call to action and close

Then, look at every sentence and get brutal with the cuts. Where have I spent too much time describing something? Where have I fallen into unnecessary details? Which sentences are not needed? 

I look at verbs and sentence length too, making sure that the sentences read aloud in a natural and even musical way. Try to vary sentence length and choose the most precise, coherent language. 

Run through the speech a few times aloud, noting where you have to stop and reread to revise. 

A speech doesn't have to be perfect to meet the audience where they are and show both respect for the moment and joy in the celebration. 

Writing a graduation speech that inspires and remains with the audience long after the event doesn't have to be a daunting task. Use these storytelling tips to write and deliver a great speech on that special day. 

Have you ever heard a graduation speech that stayed with you? What did the speaker say that was especially memorable? Share your best tips in the comments. 

For today's practice, write a graduation speech. It might be for a real graduation, or you could also use it as a way to develop a character for a work in progress, since their voice and backstory will be different from your own. 

Set the timer for fifteen minutes . Write the speech and then share a draft in the Pro Practice Workshop , offering feedback to a few others writers. 

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Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website .

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This writer analyzed 100 graduation speeches — here are the 4 tips they all share

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writing about graduation speech

Steve Jobs has been credited over the years with popularizing any number of other people’s inventions, from the personal computer to the tablet to the mobile phone. But none of these gifts may be as enduring as one of his rarely credited contributions to contemporary life — popularizing the viral commencement address.

On June 12, 2005, Jobs stood before the graduating class of Stanford University and reminded them that he had never graduated from college. “Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation.” He then told three stories about his life. “That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.”

That speech , coinciding as it did with the rise of internet virality (the first TED Talk would be posted on exactly 12 months later; the iPhone was introduced exactly 12 months after that), launched a global obsession with pithy, inspirational talks. Jobs’s speech has since been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube.

Graduation speeches, long viewed as the burdensome interruption before diplomas were granted and mortar boards were tossed, have since become big business. Kurt Vonnegut, Ann Patchett, Carl Hiaasen, J.K. Rowling, Mary Karr, David Foster Wallace and many others have all had their commencement speeches published as books.

I’ve been fortunate to give a handful of commencement addresses over the years, and I confess to a fascination with the genre. The internet has been a boon this hobby. There are thousands of commencement speeches on the web. Can we learn anything from their messages?

I’ve spent the last few years gathering and coding hundreds of life stories, looking for patterns and takeaways that could help all of us live with more meaning, purpose and joy. I decided to put some of my coding tools to work, analyzing 100 of the most popular recent commencement speeches.

Here are the four tips they all contain:

1. Dream big

“I think it is often easier to make progress on mega-ambitious dreams. I know that sounds completely nuts. But, since no one else is crazy enough to do it, you have little competition. There are so few people this crazy that I feel like I know them all by first name. They all travel as if they are pack dogs and stick to each other like glue. The best people want to work the big challenges.” — Larry Page at University of Michigan , 2009

“We don’t beat the reaper by living longer. We beat the reaper by living well and living fully. For the reaper is always going to come for all of us. The question is: What do we do between the time we are born, and the time he shows up? Because when he shows up, it’s too late to do all the things that you’re always gonna, kinda get around to.” — Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University , 2009

“Graduates, we need you. We need you to run companies and make decisions about who has access to capital. We need you to serve at the highest levels of government and determine our country’s standing in the world. We need you to work in our hospitals and in our courtrooms and in our schools. We need you to shape the future of technology. We need you because your perspective — the sum total of your intellect and your lived experience — will make our country stronger.” — Kamala Harris at Tennessee State University , 2022

2. Work hard

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs at Stanford University , 2005

“I just directed my first film. I was completely unprepared, but my own ignorance to my own limitations looked like confidence and got me into the director’s chair. Once there, I had to figure it all out, and my belief that I could handle these things, contrary to all evidence of my ability to do so was half the battle. The other half was very hard work. The experience was the deepest and most meaningful one of my career.” — Natalie Portman at Harvard University , 2015

“When you’re doing the work you’re meant to do, it feels right and every day is a bonus, regardless of what you’re getting paid … But make it your life’s work to remake the world because there is nothing more beautiful or more worthwhile than working to leave something better for humanity.” — Oprah Winfrey at Stanford University , 2008

3. Make mistakes

”Fail big. That’s right. Fail big … It’s a new world out there, and it’s a mean world out there, and you only live once. So do what you feel passionate about. Take chances, professionally. Don’t be afraid to fail. There’s an old IQ test with nine dots, and you had to draw five lines with a pencil within these nine dots without lifting the pencil, and the only way to do it was to go outside the box. So don’t be afraid to go outside the box.” — Denzel Washington at University of Pennsylvania , 2011

“The world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.” — Aaron Sorkin at Syracuse University , 2013

“My experience has been that my mistakes led to the best thing in my life. Being embarrassed when you mess up is part of the human experience of getting back up dusting yourself off and seeing who still wants to hang out with you afterward and laugh about it. That’s a gift. The times I was told no or wasn’t included wasn’t chosen, didn’t win, didn’t make the cut, looking back it really feels like those moments we’re as important if not more crucial than the moments I was told yes.” — Taylor Swift at NYU , 2022

“Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.” — Conan O’Brien at Dartmouth College , 2011

“Empathy and kindness are the true signs of emotional intelligence.” — Will Ferrell at the University of Southern California , 2017

“So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly. Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth? Those who were kindest to you, I bet. It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.” — George Saunders at Syracuse University , 2013

So what can we learn from these themes?

Every era in American life has its own standards of what it means to be a success. Shortly after America’s founding, success was all about character. Led by Benjamin Franklin, Americans embraced virtue, industry, and frugality. In the twentieth century, success was all about personality. Led by Dale Carnegie, Americans embraced salesmanship, reinvention and charisma. Today, led by Steve Jobs, Americans are embracing meaning, authenticity and bliss. Or, as Kermit the Frog put it in a 1996 commencement speech at Southampton College , “May success and a smile always be yours … even when you’re knee-deep in the sticky muck of life.”

Dream, work, fail and smile are as good a foursome of American identity today as I know. And if those ideas don’t inspire you, you can always embrace the far more practical advice erroneously attributed to Kurt Vonnegut in a commencement speech that he never gave at MIT, but was instead delivered by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich in an imaginary speech to graduates she published in an old-fashioned newspaper, “Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97: Wear sunscreen.”

This post was adapted from one published on his newsletter The Nonlinear Life; go here to subscribe.

Watch his TEDxIEMadrid Talk now:

About the author

Bruce Feiler is the author of seven New York Times bestsellers, including The Secrets of Happy Families and Council of Dads, both of which became the subject of TED Talks. His latest book, Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age, from which this post and TEDx Talk are adapted, describes his journey across America, collecting hundreds of life stories, exploring how we can navigate life’s growing number of transitions with more meaning, purpose and joy. To learn more, visit, follow him on Twitter (@brucefeiler), or sign up for his newsletter The Nonlinear Life. 

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writing about graduation speech

A graduation speech is delivered with the intent to honour past successes and failures, as well as future hopes. The style of this type of speech should be brief and entertaining. 

A graduation speech or a graduation address is delivered by a graduating student from high school, college or university. A student speaker may talk in place of or in cooperation with a prominent outside figure. Student commencement speakers are frequently valedictorians or are otherwise elected to represent the student body by their peers.

It is quite a difficult job to speak confidently in front of a large crowd, especially on such an important event, like graduation day. However, if you want to become an effective speaker in from of your peers, you have selected the right article. So, READ ON. 

Major constituents of a graduation speech

The primary components of crafting an effective graduation speech are to express gratitude for the opportunities and successes received, as well as future expectations. 

Make sure that the speech stays on schedule. It should not exceed the set time duration which could cause boredom and exasperation amongst the audience.

“Be truthful, be brief, be seated” Franklin D. Roosevelt

time in a graduation speech

2. Short and sweet

Avoid boring your audience by giving a lengthy and monotonous speech. It should be to the point and contain relevant incidents. 

“Always be shorter than anyone dared to hope!” Lord Reading

3. Memories

A graduation speech should be a blend of laughter, tears and triumphs. 

4. Achievements

Highlight your achievements while also jokingly mentioning your failures. 

Include achievements in a graduation speech

5. Reflection

Consider current events which provide an opportunity to express your serious viewpoints to an adult. 

6. The Aftermath

Acquired abilities and skills that will help you succeed in the future. 

What to say in a graduation speech?

A graduation speech has a standard outline that a speaker must follow to become an effective orator in front of their peers and teachers. It is not necessary to adhere to all the steps, however, the speaker could modify the outline as per his or her style. 

1. Start by expressing gratitude

When you are invited to the podium for delivering your speech, always remember to commence it by giving a note of gratitude to the previous speaker who introduced you, for the introduction as well as for the work they perform at the school or university. 

2. Make an introduction 

Do not take it for granted that everyone in the audience knows you. Hence, it is significant to introduce yourself briefly to the audience and inform them of the purpose of you giving the speech. However, usually, the host or the anchor introduces you before inviting you to speak. In this case, you can ignore introducing yourself again.

make an introduction

3. Remember the beautiful memories

The whole purpose of a graduation speech is to recall and reminisce the memories which you have created in your school or university days. Hence, you should create an atmosphere that forces your peers to remember the good times they have spent with each other and they cherish them forever.

For example,

  • Memorable event in which you all participated together
  • Your discussions about the teachers who supported you
  • The mischievous actions and punishments during your time in the institution
  • Your actions to fulfil your ambitions
  • The joyful and sorrowful moments with your friends

4. Encourage your peers to action

Inspire your classmates to take action as well as encourage them by sharing your experiences to step up and go change the world. Demonstrate how, as a result, it relates to your class’s educational experiences. This will make a chance of creating a strong bond between you and your peers and make them enthusiastic about the future. You should also tell your peers that they have the skills and abilities that are required to be successful in the future with an optimistic tone. 

Reminiscing memories

5. End the speech

The last important aspect of a graduation speech is to thank the audience for their valuable time. On the other hand, in the end, you should also thank your classmates or peers for the wonderful memories you had created with them. 

Go through this article for more useful insights: Your guide to writing the perfect valedictorian speech with sample speech

How to start a graduating speech?

The opening statement of your graduation speech offers the audience a decent indication of the whole content of your speech. Consequently, it is significant to choose a memorable opening for your speech which could be useful in conveying your message. Some beneficial and effective ways to start your graduating speech are:

1. Ask rhetorical questions

A rhetorical question is a figure of speech or literary device which is posed to create an emphasis or potency without anticipating a response or answer. Though, it is sometimes possible for the questioner to state the answer immediately. Moreover, t is used to convince the audience and determine the way they perceive a particular subject.

For example, 

  • What if I didn’t like high school or college?
  • Where would life take me?
  • What kind of person would I be in 5, 10, or 15 years?

2. Begin with a story

As I have stated, any speech should include stories and experiences. Furthermore, it is a better way to incorporate them into your speech right at the start. Stories will hook your audience from the start, increasing the likelihood that they will stay with you until the finish.

For instance, in Grade 12, one of my classmates pranked me by connecting my computer to the projector…

Several other examples include:

  • Describe a strong relationship
  • Narrate a lousy experience
  • Talk about the notorious activities

3. Make Use Of Objects

Another excellent technique to begin your speech is by using certain objects or props. They are alluring, and when used appropriately, they can tell your audience a whole tale. However, one thing to bear in mind when employing props is that they must be related to the issue at hand. Do not merely use a prop because it is present but not required.

Several examples of props are:

  • A yearbook from school or college
  • Photographs
  • An account of a well-known school incident
  • A meal to remember

Read this article for more useful insights: 10 of the best things to say in opening remarks

How to end a graduating speech?

As your closing words have a lasting impact, hence, you must leave an impression on the audience. The conclusion of your speech is your last chance to restate the main point, excite the audience, encourage a group to act, shift someone’s perspective, or leave a lasting impression.

The audience tends to remember what a speaker just said due to the “Recency effect” in learning. As a result, the ending of your speech makes the audience aware that it is approaching the end, aiding them in recalling the main elements of the entire issue. 

1. Restate the central idea

To begin with, it is important to restate the major point of your speech at the starting of your conclusion. You should make it unique and interesting for the listeners. Moreover, you do not give them the impression that you’re just doing it again.

2. Encapsulate the points

In the conclusion, it is always a good idea to summarise the main points. Instead of simply repeating the points, you should explain to the audience how those points strengthened your assertion or statement. In addition, draw them all into an exceptional force to support your main idea.

significance of ideas

3. End by creating an impact

Your conclusion should be such that it makes the audience happy and contented as well as inquisitive to hear more. Consider ending on a captivating note when writing your conclusion. You might end your speech with a rhetorical question, a quotation or a noteworthy statement or phrase. Connecting your main point to a more detailed situation is another way to give your audience a good ending. Also, keep in mind that the last sentence of your speech requires extra effort.

Go through this article for more information: 10 of the best things to say in closing remarks

Themes for a graduation speech

Sometimes, it becomes an arduous job to select or choose a topic for the speech. Nevertheless, the following are a few ideas for a graduation speech which would help in attracting the audience and impressing them. 

1. Events of school/college

Investing several years in an institution creates a strong relationship between the student and the organisation. You can take this time to reflect on earlier events at school, such as a win over a competitor, a minor accident in one of the scientific laboratories, or a prank on a senior or junior. It will undoubtedly be a hit with the students.

2. Step up from unconventional methods

Break out from the standard format of a graduation speech. Attempt employing distinctive methods and metaphors in your speech, or experiment with spoken word poetry. Some other unconventional methods could also include singing a few lines, narrating a story, doing mimicry etc.

theme for a graduation speech

3. Storytelling

We are always open to hearing new and fascinating stories. What distinguishes your experience from others? What have you learned from it? You can convey it to the audience for their constant attention. 

4. Showing gratitude

Use the opportunity to give the graduation address to express your gratitude to your peers, friends, parents and teachers in the audience who helped and supported you and made your graduation possible.

5. Setting high goals

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough” Anonymous

Choosing this topic for your graduation speech is a good idea to keep reminding yourself of your goals and dreams as you prepare to enter a crucial new period of your life. Moreover, you can also discuss your inspiration for dreaming big, such as a teacher, a book you read, a movie you saw, or a life turning point.

Examples of graduation speeches

Some speeches are good however some are excellent. Let’s take a look at some of the excellent graduation speeches by students and also by some famous personalities at the graduation ceremonies.

1. Chase Dahl

Chase Dahl was the student speaker at the Weber High School graduation for the class of 2015. 

Takeaway – This speech is a perfect example of blending confidence, humour, and motivation in a graduation speech. Furthermore, the way of its delivery should be noted.

2. Henry Goddard

Henry Goddard delivered his valedictorian speech at the Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in 2010.

Takeaway – This speech summed up the speaker’s high school experiences in a great way using humour , wherever required, as well as ending it on an inspiring note.

3. Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin delivered his valedictorian speech at The King’s Academy in 2019.

Takeaway – This speech is an excellent example of organising your graduation speech around a key theme which makes it more enticing and eye-catching. In addition, it allows you to choose and organise your own speech.

How long should be the graduation speech?

A graduation speech ought to be concise so that they do not become monotonous and boring for the audience. Furthermore, it should cover only the relevant points related to the theme or subject matter with brief examples. 

A graduation speech delivered by a student, like a valedictorian, should not last more than 5 – 12 minutes . Consequently, the speech should contain 600 – 1450 words .

On the other hand, a graduation speech delivered by the principal or a guest, such as a famous personality, should not be of more than 15 – 20 minutes. Consequently, it should contain 1800 – 2400 words . 

length of a graduation speech

Sample Graduation Speech

​​My fellow graduates and friends, it is an honor to speak to all of you today. We’ve just been here for (number) years and it’s already time to depart. How did everything happen so quickly? Many individuals believe that today is the first day of our journey. I don’t agree. It all started a long time ago. Today happens to be the day when the road we’ve been on breaks into (number of students) different roads. Until now, we’ve been a team that has walked as one. We’ve done everything, and we’ve done everything together. Many of us have been members of our school system since kindergarten, thirteen years ago, and I’d want to take us all back to (date). This was our first day of school and the start of our adventure. Parents and grandparents escorted us to the bus stop, where we took over a thousand photographs. We are now at the point where four highways are merging into one, and four schools are merging into one. Middle School -­-­ I believe I can speak for all of us when I say that these were the most awkward three years of our lives. I’m sure every student had the same idea when we stepped into freshman orientation “Oh my goodness! Those lockers are monstrous!” In the end, we didn’t use them at all. And now, we have arrived. Everyone should be proud of their accomplishments. These past few years have been nothing short of a triumph. However, it was not a simple task. Take a peek at the previous year. Because of a record-breaking snowstorm that made February break last forever, and not to mention Covid 19, I honestly didn’t believe we’d graduate this year. We’ve arrived. It was a success! Our guidance through high school was the tradition of adulthood. As a result of our journey, we have arrived at today, (date). This is the point in our journey where we take a break to rest and reflect on everything we’ve accomplished. What we’ve accomplished together over the last few years is simply amazing. We stayed together and matured together, and I couldn’t have asked for a better class to be in. I believe in each and every one of you, that no matter which path you pick, you will make it your own and achieve your goals. As I look out at all of you, I know I’ll be measuring my time here in a different way. I’ll gauge it by the friendships I’ve developed over the last four years. Some were casual, while others were more intimate, but I’ll remember them all warmly, as I’m sure you will. And as many of our high school memories fade, that’ll be how we’ll remember our time here, not in terms of periods, semesters, or years, but in terms of the friendships we formed and the moments we spent together. Congratulations to my classmates from the class of (year). May we always be friends when we meet again, no matter where we go or what we do.

Final words

A graduation speech delivered by a student is only a one time opportunity. Hence, it is important to take this chance worthwhile and become an effective public speaker. Consequently, it is significant to deliver the graduation speech in such a way that it does not look monotonous and boring to the audience. Moreover, it should grab the audience’s attention and should be thought-provoking and inspirational. 

In addition, the selection of the speech topic should be done meticulously. It is the theme that either makes or breaks the impression of the speaker. Furthermore, a graduation speech should be a blend of humour and intellectuality in which past experiences and future hopes are discussed.

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writing about graduation speech

How to write a great graduation speech

writing about graduation speech

Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology

  • By Edwin Battistella
  • May 10 th 2015

It’s graduation time at many of the nation’s schools and colleges. The commencement ceremony is a great exhalation for all involved and an annual rite of passage celebrating academic achievements. Commencement ceremonies typically feature a visiting dignitary who offers a few thousand inspirational words.

Over the years, I’ve heard more of these speeches than I care to admit and have made my own checklist of suggestions for speakers. For those of you giving commencement speeches or listening to them, here’s my advice:

1. Be just funny enough

The best speakers are knowingly wry and a bit self-deprecating. Here’s Michael Bloomberg, opening his 2014 Harvard Commencement address, with a typical opening:

I’m excited to be here, not only to address the distinguished graduates and alumni at Harvard University’s 363rd commencement but to stand in the exact spot where Oprah stood last year. OMG.

Compare that with President Kennedy, speaking at Yale in 1962, who invoked the Cambridge-New Haven rivalry to tease his hosts a bit:

Let me begin by expressing my appreciation for the very deep honor that you have conferred upon me. As General de Gaulle occasionally acknowledges America to be the daughter of Europe, so I am pleased to come to Yale, the daughter of Harvard. It might be said now that I have the best of both worlds, a Harvard education and a Yale degree.

Then again, presidents can get away with that sort of thing, but most speakers can’t.

2. Be like Shakespeare


Keep the diversity of your audience in mind. You are speaking to students, but the students are not all the same.  There are honor students—summa, magna, and cum laude–as well as those who are still sweating out a few grades. You are also speaking to families and to the university faculty.  Shakespeare had that same problem—needing to address those in the Lord’s room, the galleries, and the ground pit. He solved it by repeating himself, expressing ideas in both the Latinate phrases and in plain Anglo-Saxon, as when he combined unfamiliar words like incarnadine with familiar ones like red .

Here is Ellen DeGeneres, giving the commencement speech at Tulane in 2009. Talking about the honorary degree she is receiving, she plays with the languages of her audience:

I thought that you had to be a famous alumnus – alumini – aluminum – alumis – you had to graduate from this school.

She speaks to both the people who are not quite sure of the singular of alumni , and to those who are.

3. Think about bite-sized ideas

Your speech is likely to come up as a topic of discussion later in the day at lunch or dinner, if only to deflect attention from other topics like job interviews and loan repayment. What will the different audiences take away from your speech? What will students say when Grandma asks, “So what did you think of the speaker?”

As you develop your theme, try to have a memorable, quotable line for each segment of your audience—the grads, the families, and the faculty. And remember that your audience can’t rewind your speech or mark it with a yellow highlighter, so be sure to illustrate your easily-recognizable theme with smaller, easily-digestable examples.

Neil de Grasse Tyson did this in his 2012 speech at Western New England University.  His theme was the prevalence of fuzzy thinking and the desire for choices rather than fresh thought. He touched on the theme repeatedly, with examples ranging from a lunch date with his sister, to a spelling bee, to a job interview, throwing in an allusion to Plato (for the faculty) and ending up with the point that thinking is painful hard work. Journalist Sharyn Alfonsi also did it in her commencement address to the journalism school at Ole Miss in 2013, as she talked about work and perseverance, and illustrated those values through her own career’s challenges, including job applications, tough days, and bad bosses. Choose examples that everyone can relate to and can talk about over lunch.

4. Avoid the “Real World” and other clichés

Be careful when using clichés in your speech. Tempting as it may be to tell the graduates that they are about to enter the “Real World” (where you have thrived), you should avoid that. Savvy students will see you as out of touch, since many of them have been working all along and are often managing any number of real life issues.

You may want to avoid talking about the value of their education as well. They know the value. That’s why they went to college. (It’s the cost they are worried about.)

And don’t tell them they are going to die. What if someone had just died on campus? Steve Jobs could get away with talking about death at Stanford in 2005 (“And yet death is the destination we all share”), but he had cheated death at the time.

On a rare occasion, though, you can subvert the clichés. Jon Stewart, speaking at William and Mary in 2004, presents the so-called “Real World” this way:

Let’s talk about the “Real World” for a moment… I don’t really know to put this, so I’ll be blunt: we broke it… But here’s the good news: you fix this thing, you’re the next greatest generation, people.


David Foster Wallace took the liberal arts cliché by the horns in his 2005 speech at Kenyon College, telling the audience:

So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think.”

Wallace then used that to suggest a new perspective—that education is about choosing what to think about.

And screenwriter Joss Whedon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, tricked up the death theme at Wesleyan in 2013, opening with a reference to the horror genre and the live-life-to-the-fullest cliché:

What I’d like to say to all of you is that you are all going to die.

5. Keep it short

Unless you are a national leader using the speech to announce a major policy, you won’t need more than 20 minutes, tops. Twelve minutes would be even better. The average speaker reads about 120 words a minute, so that’s about 1,400-2,400 words or 9-15 pages (double spaced, 16 point font). Sitting in the sun, the students, families, and faculty will all appreciate brevity.

Here is Poet Laureate Billy Collins speaking at Colorado College in 2008:

I am going to speak for 13 minutes. I think you deserve to know that this will be a finite experience. It is well-known in the world of public speaking that there is no pleasure you can give an audience that compares to the pleasure they get when it is over, so you can look forward to experiencing that pleasure 13 minutes from now.

One of the most memorable commencement addresses at my institution was given by a retired speech professor, Leon Mulling. It was just one-minute long, consisted entirely of verbs (Go. Do. Create. Laugh. Love. Live . ) and received thunderous applause.

6. Above all: relax and enjoy yourself

To do well as a commencement speaker, you need gentle humor, Shakespearean universal accessibility, something memorable for each audience, both a theme and relatable examples, an awareness of clichés, and brevity. And if it makes you nervous to think that college graduates, families, faculty, and even YouTube will be scoring your speech, remember—there’ll be another commencement speaker up on the stage next year.

Image Credit: “Graduation Day” by Md saad andalib. CC BY 2.0 via Flickr .

Edwin L. Battistella teaches linguistics and writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, where he has served as a dean and as interim provost. He is the author of Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology  (OUP, 2014),  Do You Make These Mistakes in English? (OUP, 2009), Bad Language (OUP, 2005), and The Logic of Markedness (OUP, 1996).


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Recent Comments

Very good advice and a fun article to read. My graduation speaker 45 years ago was the president of an African country and he spoke about something relating to Africa. It was memorable. The “it” was the weather that afternoon. It was hot and humid and the gowns were an extra layer on top of regular clothes. Oh, the campus political environment was also memorable. I wore an “equal” sign stenciled on a white cloth armband, urging equal admissions of men and women; the university was concerned that admitting more women would reduce long term importance of the college (useless nonworking women) plus eventual lower alumni donations. Oh, yes, and there was Carling Black Label beer at the reception afterward, chosen because it was donated by an alumnus. My father attended. My girlfriend’s parents were there, watching her graduate, and they had some suspicions about us, but thought we were being really careful. Yeah, that was pretty much it.

I loved it thanks

Really good

I will be a commencement speaker this spring at a Pennsylvania university and I thought your article was a great start for me as I prepare. Thanks!

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  • EXPLORE Random Article

How to Write a Graduation Speech

Last Updated: July 24, 2021 References

This article was co-authored by Patrick Muñoz . Patrick is an internationally recognized Voice & Speech Coach, focusing on public speaking, vocal power, accent and dialects, accent reduction, voiceover, acting and speech therapy. He has worked with clients such as Penelope Cruz, Eva Longoria, and Roselyn Sanchez. He was voted LA's Favorite Voice and Dialect Coach by BACKSTAGE, is the voice and speech coach for Disney and Turner Classic Movies, and is a member of Voice and Speech Trainers Association. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 40,611 times.

If you are giving a graduation speech you should take your time to write a speech with your specific audience in mind that conveys a message you care about and that shows your personality! Making a worthwhile speech takes time researching, writing, editing and rehearsing, but if you put in the right effort your work will pay off and make your graduation all the more memorable. Above all, care about what you say. For example, David Foster Wallace deeply believed that school should not teach you what to think. He thought that school should teach you the freedom to decide how to think, and he gave an inspirational speech to Kenyon College in 2007 that is still being written about and talk about today. [1] X Research source

Considering the Practical Things

Step 1 Ask about the details of the program.

  • It is often important that you thank certain individuals in your speech. This may mean the dean and special faculty, for example, so ask about how to address these individuals, including how to say their names.

Step 2 Write a speech that appeals to everyone in your audience.

  • For example, David Foster Wallace's speech he chose to talk about not getting involved in the rat race but deciding to ignore the pressure of the world that tells you you must make lots of money and buy lots of things. Even though this speech is for the students, anyone can relate to the rat race and high expectations from the world to succeed to make lots of money just to spend it all.
  • Write down a list of the different groups of students you might want to consider: honors students, athletes, students who know what they are doing after graduation, students who do not know what they are doing, etc. Make sure in your speech that you aren't assuming that all the students in attendance are attending college, if that is note the case.
  • You don’t have to make your speech generic or overly general because you are writing for to a wide audience. Pick a universal theme, and you can consider adding parts to your speech that will speak to the different groups, if you like. If your theme is broad enough, like overcoming adversity through perseverance, you don't need to worry about making it appeal to different audiences. Everyone can relate to overcoming hard times.
  • Make sure that your vocabulary is varied and diverse. Try not to alienate anyone in your audience. For example, if you use the word ¨benevolent" to describe your teacher, as in ¨Mr. Garcia was such a benevolent teacher¨, you can follow it up with a description that will show the meaning of the word, ¨he was always so good to us, he let us play card games in his classroom at lunch¨. [2] X Research source

Step 3 Ask about how long your speech should be.

  • If your speech is for a smaller audience or for a less formal affair, you may want to ask about how long the past graduation speeches have gone. Perhaps the speech should be shorter, around five minutes or less.
  • Remember, too, that your speech may feel a lot longer or shorter than it actually is. If you want communicate effectively, try slowing down your speech. This might mean you will have less time to say what you want to say.

Step 4 Find out if there are other rules for graduation speeches.

  • Some schools may ask you to send your graduation speech to someone who will read it first to make sure it is well developed and/or appropriate for the graduation ceremony. Additionally, you may have to practice your speech with one of the staff before the ceremony.

Step 5 Ask about the speeches that went over well in the past.

  • For example, perhaps they dedicated a lot of time and effort as a class when they decorated a float that won a prize in a parade. You could consider incorporating that piece of information into your speech, like ¨It took me a lot of persistence and grit to get through that final term paper. However, it wasn't nearly as much work, or as much fun, as decorating that float with this class the night before the parade.¨
  • Do not feel compelled to replicate that speech. You can, however, use that information to help you decide what you should write about based on your own life, values and experiences.

Step 6 Give yourself plenty of time to write, edit and rehearse your speech.

  • Start working at least two to three weeks before you have to give your speech.
  • Rehearse your speech in the place where you plan on giving it, if possible. Being familiar with the surroundings should dampen any unease or nerves.

Deciding What to Talk About

Step 1 Brainstorm before you get started writing your speech.

  • Once you have ideas from talking to your friends or family or thinking about what you want to say start writing down experiences that match those ideas.
  • For example, if you were driving toward the theme that David Foster Wallace used of learning how to think instead of what to think. You might have brainstorm about a time that you decided to learn how to knit to make all of your friends and family gifts for Christmas instead of buying them gifts. Talk about how much your grandmother loved the scarf you made her and how that ended up bonding you two together. When you think back to why you care so much about making gifts instead of buying them you realize that you want to question the pressure that is put on you to spend a lot of money to buy everyone Christmas presents. That is your theme.

Step 2 Decide on a message for your speech.

  • For example, you may want to talk about how giving your time to volunteer work will end up making you a happier and healthier person.
  • Write out your most important life experiences and lessons learned, and decide what a main take away from those stories/lessons could be. For example, after working at the soup kitchen every weekend during my senior year, I learned life lessons from people I never expected to learn from. Homeless people who I saw freely give others some of their prized possessions ended up teaching me how to give freely.
  • Some examples of common themes in graduation speeches are: believing in/liking yourself, taking risks/putting yourself out there, failing is necessary for success, giving back helps you as an individual, being persistent pays off, being okay with not being perfect, overcoming adversity, good friendships save, and there are different paths to take through life/there is no one right answer. [7] X Research source
  • Giving thanks and congratulations is another style of graduation speech you can choose to write. In these graduation speeches individuals talk about all that they have come through as a class to get to graduation. They also might take more time to talk about and thank the individuals who helped them along the way.
  • These speeches tend to be less focused on giving advice and the individual giving the speech and more focused on the group as a whole. Listed here is a wikiHow article on writing a graduation thank you speech. [8] X Research source

Step 3 Read and watch really good graduation speeches to get ideas for your graduation speech.

  • See if you can pick out a few main themes in the graduation speech, usually it will not be very difficult to find because it will be repeated several times. Writing those down will help you see how they craft their speech around those ideas.
  • For example, you could take note that David Foster Wallace uses a simple metaphor to get across his main idea. He uses the metaphor of a fish being aware that he is in water as compared to a person who realizes that he is in a society that influences us to think and act. This metaphor shows us how important it is to be aware of the obvious realities of being in society that others might miss. It also how shows us how isolating it can be to be aware.
  • Likewise, think about using a similar convention, for example, a short joke or a metaphor that illustrates your main point.

Step 4 Choose a speech structure that will help you communicate your message.

  • In the first speech structure, you highlight a few, typically one to four, main take-aways, or themes. You show address those ideas through personal anecdotes or nonfiction stories to impart some wisdom to the graduating class. The people who choose this structure generally feel that they have simple, yet important wisdom that might help the graduates succeed in life. For example, Steve Jobs used this structure and told just three stories about his life. The first story he told was about how he “connected the dots” in his life. [10] X Research source
  • In the second structure, make a list of five to ten tips that you have acquired that you give as advice to the graduating class. If you had trouble honing in on one to three themes or take-aways, this might be a good option for you. You can highlight important things that are both big and small in this kind of speech. For example, an admiral gave a speech about the ten essential life tips he learned from the Navy that including tips to both make your bed, and never, ever give up. [11] X Research source
  • In the third, you tell a condensed version of your life story. Go for this option if you feel like you have a very powerful personal story that illustrates some important ideas about how to be successful or how to overcome adversity. You don’t have to start with the beginning of your life, instead talk about the important things that have made you who you are. For example, music producer Jimmy Iovine used this structure and started his speech by talking about a rebuke John Landau gave him. Jon said, ¨this is not about you¨, and that advise gave Jimmy the courage to keep working when his ego was fed up. [12] X Research source
  • In the last speech structure, you develop one main idea as an argument and use observations from life, your personal history, etc., to support this main idea. This option is good if you are really passionate about conveying one central idea to your audience that you are entirely convinced needs to be heard by everyone. This is perhaps the most difficult speech to write because it is much like writing an argument; your ideas need to be logical and well organized. For example, David Foster Wallace follows this structure. He makes a claim that the real value of education isn’t learning what to think but gaining the freedom to choose how to think. He stays with this theme and develops his ideas like an argument. [13] X Research source

Step 5 Show your personality in your speech.

  • You can use humor to convey your personality. For example, Sumner Redstone, giving a speech to DeVry University, starts his speech with some self-deprecating humor that points out that people won't enjoy sitting through his speech. Redstone says that he is glad to go first in the program, and he quotes Mark Twain who recommends swallowing a frog at the start of the day to get the worst thing out of the way. Here Redstone makes himself the toad to make his audience laugh.

Step 6 Don’t give a speech about something unless you really believe in it.

  • Being passionate about what you are talking about will show in your delivery, as long as you practice. Speeches involve much more than the words you say, and oftentimes much more can be said through the emotions you convey when you deliver your speech. Think about all of the ways you can put emotion into a simple phrase like ¨I would die for you." A lot of meaning balances on the way you say those words.
  • Practice putting emotion into your speech to give it meaning. Rehearse what you will say in front of a mirror several times to see how you look, and don't be afraid to use gestures.

Step 7 Consider the enthusiastic mood of the occasion.

  • Because everyone has gone through a lot to get to this point, you may want to take a minute to genuinely congratulate them on their accomplishments.

Step 8 Avoid cliches.

  • You should avoid these cliches because they have been overused, and the people in your audience will most likely not be inspired by these topics. [15] X Research source
  • Do not confuse universal themes for cliches. Some of the best, most powerful speeches have very simple messages. For example, giving back helps you grow as an individual. Even though this theme that has been explored before and will be explored again, the theme still rings true and bears repeating.

Going Through the Steps in the Speech Making Process

Step 1 Organize and develop your writing into an introduction, body and conclusion.

  • After your speech you want people to be able to easily remember what you talked about so they can discuss what you said.

Step 3 Have someone else edit your speech and give you feedback.

  • Send the same person your revisions each time you make a major edit.

Step 4 Practice your speech out loud in front of others.

  • Make sure to practice your pacing, and slow down if you have a tendency to read quickly through your speech. Use a timer when you practice giving your speech in front a mirror or your family/friends.
  • Practice enough times so that you have the things you want to say internalized. This means that when you go into autopilot mode in front of an audience you will be more likely to remember because of your muscle memory. [20] X Research source
  • If you get stuck, look at someone you trust in the audience and breath deeply for a couple of seconds to calm yourself down while you try to collect your thoughts.

Expert Q&A

Patrick Muñoz

  • Practice out loud until you have internalized the essential parts of your speech. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Remember to write a speech that will speak to everyone in your audience. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0
  • Find someone who knows about writing or speech making to help you edit your speech. Thanks Helpful 2 Not Helpful 0

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About this article

Patrick Muñoz

To write a graduation speech, choose a structure that will help to communicate your message. For example, you could highlight a few main themes through personal anecdotes or nonfiction stories. Alternatively, you could make a list of 5 to 10 tips that you want to advise the graduating class about. If you have an interesting or powerful personal story, you can use it to illustrate important ideas, such as overcoming adversity or becoming successful. To learn how to show your personality in your speech, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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writing about graduation speech

How to write an inspiring graduation speech

.css-26rqae{font-weight:500;} crafting a graduation speech to remember.

Giving a great graduation speech is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on fellow graduates and the audience. If your teenager has the honor of speaking at their ceremony, try these graduation speech ideas to help them craft a unique, unforgettable address.

Start with a personal story

Sharing a personal experience can make any speech more relatable and engaging for the audience. Consider incorporating a specific moment or lesson from their life or school journey.

Keep it concise

Most graduation ceremonies have multiple time constraints to consider. The school may give your child a suggested speech length. Most college and university commencement speeches   last around 5-10 minutes, so high school speeches are typically shorter. You can guide your honoree to keep it concise and focus on delivering a few key points effectively.

Use humor wisely

Humor can make a speech memorable and help connect with the audience. But at a formal commencement, especially high school, be careful not to overdo it or use inappropriate jokes. Always keep in mind the tone and theme of the event.

Include inspirational quotes

Incorporating quotes from influential figures can add depth and meaning to a speech. Writers might choose quotes that resonate with their message and tie in seamlessly with their overall theme.

Address the audience directly

To help keep speech language engaging, it’s helpful to remember who your primary audience is. Are you speaking mainly to your fellow graduates? Parents? Teachers and faculty? Or, a combination of all. Try to acknowledge them directly during the speech. This can help create a sense of connection and community.

End on a high note

A powerful conclusion can leave a lasting impact on an audience. Consider ending your speech with an inspiring call to action or leaving the audience with a memorable quote or message.

Practice, practice, practice

It's important to practice a speech beforehand to ensure you can deliver it confidently and smoothly. It can also help identify any areas that may need improvement.

Graduation speech ideas

Here are some inspirational tidbits to help get your speechwriter started:

Share a personal story or experience that highlights the theme, such as growth and transformation.

Reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the graduating class as a whole.

Discuss the importance of resilience and perseverance in achieving success.

Give practical advice for life after high school, such as financial management or maintaining relationships.

Use humor to lighten the mood and connect with your audience.

Acknowledge the impact of teachers, parents, and mentors in shaping the graduates' lives.

Incorporate inspiring quotes from influential figures that align with your message.

Discuss the significance of community and coming together during difficult times.

Encourage graduates to envision their future and the legacy they hope to build, emphasizing the impact of setting goals and striving for excellence.

Highlight the value of lifelong learning, urging peers to remain curious and open to new experiences and knowledge.

Speak to the power of adaptability and innovation in a rapidly changing world and the graduates' role in shaping the future.

Celebrate diversity and the strength found in embracing different perspectives and backgrounds within the graduating class.

Address the idea of social responsibility and the impact each graduate can have on their community and the world at large.

Writing and delivering a graduation speech is both a responsibility and an opportunity to inspire and leave a lasting impression. By keeping your audience in mind, reflecting on your experiences, staying concise, having a clear message, acknowledging others, and practicing and editing, you can write an inspiring graduation speech worthy of remembering. 

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A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Graduation Speeches

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to write graduation speeches that will captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re preparing for your commencement address or helping someone craft a memorable speech, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll provide you with step-by-step instructions and essential writing tips to ensure your graduation speech stands out among the rest.

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Graduation speeches are a cherished tradition, serving as a platform to inspire, motivate, and reflect on the incredible journey of education. Crafting an exceptional commencement address requires careful consideration and planning. With our guidance, you’ll be equipped to deliver a memorable speech that resonates with your fellow graduates and creates an unforgettable moment at the graduation ceremony.

From understanding the purpose of your speech to crafting an inspiring message, we will cover everything you need to know. You’ll learn about the structure of a well-organized graduation speech, incorporating storytelling and personal anecdotes to engage your audience. We’ll also discuss the importance of striking the right tone, being authentic, infusing humor, and expressing gratitude in your speech.

So, whether you’re seeking writing tips to make your graduation speech shine or aiming to deliver a commencement address that will be remembered for years to come, our guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need. Let’s dive in and create a memorable, inspiring, and remarkable graduation speech that celebrates your achievements and those of your graduating class.

Understanding The Purpose Of Your Graduation Speech

Before you start writing your graduation speech, it’s important to understand the purpose it serves. A graduation speech is a significant part of the graduation ceremony, where you have the opportunity to inspire, motivate, and reflect on your journey with your fellow graduates.

1. The Power To Inspire And Motivate

Your graduation speech has the power to inspire your fellow graduates to strive for greatness and pursue their dreams. It is a chance to share your own experiences, accomplishments , and challenges, offering valuable insights and words of encouragement.

As you stand on that stage, remember that your words can ignite a fire within others, giving them the confidence and determination to overcome obstacles and seize opportunities.

2. The Role Of Reflection

Reflection plays a vital role in crafting a powerful graduation speech. Take a moment to reflect on your personal growth, the lessons learned, and the experiences that have shaped you during your time in school.

By sharing your reflections, you create a connection with your audience. It allows them to see themselves in your journey, helping them reflect on their own experiences and achievements. Your speech can serve as a reminder of the challenges they’ve conquered and the progress they’ve made.

Reflection also helps you deliver a message that is authentic and genuine. Your audience will appreciate your honesty and vulnerability, creating a memorable and impactful speech.

Now that you understand the purpose of your graduation speech, let’s move on to the next section, where we will guide you through the process of structuring your speech to captivate your audience.

Structuring Your Graduation Speech

A well-structured graduation speech is the foundation for engaging your audience and effectively conveying your message. To ensure a captivating and memorable informal speech , follow these guidelines for structuring your address:

1. Introduction

Begin your speech with a strong and attention-grabbing introduction that sets the tone for the rest of your address. Consider starting with a compelling quote, an intriguing anecdote, or a thought-provoking question to capture the audience’s interest right from the start.

2. Main Body

The main body of your speech is where you can truly shine. Divide your speech into logical sections or key points, each with its dedicated paragraph or heading. This structure will help you stay organized and ensure clarity in your delivery.

Within each section, utilize the power of storytelling to engage your audience on a personal level. Share relevant anecdotes and experiences that convey your message and resonate with the graduating class. These personal stories will add authenticity and create a connection with your listeners, making your speech all the more memorable.

Creating An Inspiring Graduation Speech

To create an inspiring graduation speech, establish a tone that resonates with your audience, balancing optimism and nostalgia. Share your personal experiences and insights to make your speech relatable and inspiring. Introduce humor to engage your audience, but ensure it’s appropriate and in good taste.

Express gratitude to those who supported you throughout your academic journey, demonstrating appreciation and reinforcing the bonds that helped you reach this milestone.

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How to Write a High School Graduation Speech (+ Examples)

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Amanda Green was born in a small town in the west of Scotland, where everyone knows everyone. I joined the Toastmasters 15 years ago, and I served in nearly every office in the club since then. I love helping others gain confidence and skills they can apply in every day life.

I was in several clubs in high school, I was the valedictorian, and I happened to be the youngest in our graduating class. Needless to say, I had to write and give more than one speech at our graduation.

Being asked to give a graduation speech in high school is a tremendous honor and responsibility. It takes a lot of preparation, from planning to writing and editing your speech.

My guide should show you how to write a graduation speech for high school, especially with the examples I’ve included. Follow the template and tips, and you’re sure to receive a standing ovation from your audience.

How Long Is a High School Graduation Speech?

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The best high school graduation speeches aren’t long and boring since the ceremonies already take hours. Aim for an address that doesn’t exceed 10 minutes. Keep your audience’s attention and save some for other people’s speeches.

Your graduation speech should only be around 500 to 600 words. You have to read it slowly and articulate the words clearly. One way to keep it shorter is by removing cliches and other unnecessary content.

High School Graduation Speech Template

Essays and speeches usually have three parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Here is a structure you can follow for a memorable high school graduation speech.


  • Thank people for attending. Acknowledge the presence of your teachers, parents, and fellow graduates.
  • Introduce yourself. Not everyone in the room knows you, even if you’re the class valedictorian.
  • Catch the audience’s attention by sharing a motivational quote or saying. Your personal narratives and advice will later be based on this saying.
  • Recall memorable high school experiences. Anything is worth sharing, whether it’s a simple day in class or your debate competition.
  • Encourage classmates not to forget these beautiful memories.
  • Share helpful advice for this new chapter of their lives.
  • Restate the quote or saying you mentioned in the introduction.
  • End with a call to action that will encourage the graduates to make a difference.
  • Thank the audience for hearing you out.

How to Write a Graduation Speech for High School

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Public speaking takes a lot of preparation. Here are some tips you should follow when writing and delivering a graduation speech for high school.

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Pick a Theme

Inspirational high school graduation speeches leave a mark on people. If you want to create one, try building it around a central message.

Think about everything you experienced in high school and look for patterns. Was high school about learning from mistakes? Or was it about achieving big dreams with small steps? Consider not only what is essential to you but also what is important for your fellow graduates.

Once you have picked a theme, selecting a quote, including advice, and recalling high school memories will be much easier. Here are some popular themes you can consider using for yours, but make sure to choose ones that are relevant to you and/or your class.

  • Embracing failure
  • Big things take time
  • Achieving big dreams with small steps
  • Facing change with grace
  • Overcoming adversity
  • Becoming a lifelong learner
  • Being more intentional and responsible for your future

Begin With Gratitude and a Self-Introduction

Once you step on stage, you must start with a few formalities. Know the name of the previous speakers and acknowledge their excellent speeches. Then, thank everyone in attendance, including the teachers, parents, and fellow students.

Say it’s a privilege to speak before the audience on this special day. This is also the best time to introduce yourself.

Don’t assume that everyone in the room knows who you are. State your name and why you were tasked to create the speech. Below is an example.

“Thank you, Mr. Jones, for the wonderful speech. And thank you to the parents, teachers, staff, and fellow graduates in this room who have made the past four years unforgettable. It’s a pleasure to stand in front of everyone and represent the class of 2022 at this address. I am [name], your class valedictorian.”

Make It About Everybody But You

Your graduation speech is not a mini-biography of your accomplishments. Only sprinkle a few personal anecdotes, then include what the four years of high school have been like for the other students. Below is an example.

“Four years ago, we were freshmen walking through the doors of [school name]. While some of us want to be doctors, artists, engineers, and singers in the future, we all had one goal in mind during that time: to leave a mark on the school in the next four years.”

Recall High School Memories

Tap the ceremony’s nostalgia by recalling important events from the past four years. You can include prom, school fairs, and even mundane scenarios. Include hardships, such as the sudden shift to online classes during the pandemic.

If you are a valedictorian , you should know which memories everyone treasures. Try interviewing some of your peers about their best high school memories. Below is an example.

“Every batch of graduates from [school] has a common core memory. For us, it was probably prom 2022. Instead of getting our beauty sleep the night before the dance, everyone stayed in school until 8 PM because of the last-minute changes. While that experience was full of pressure and chaos, we look back on that memory remembering teamwork and dedication.”

Share Advice

Your advice is the most crucial part of the speech. It serves as a call to action the students will follow in the future.

Make sure to keep it positive and remind everyone that anything is possible. You can also advise them to advocate for others and treat everyone equally.

Here’s an example showing what I mean.

“The future is uncertain, and the only thing we can do is be optimistic about it. We learned to stay determined in the past four years, so we can do it again throughout college or our careers.”

Incorporate Your Personality

Just because you’re speaking for the rest of the class and following an outline doesn’t mean your speech should be boring. You can still infuse your personality through humor, anecdotes , and life experiences.

You can also open your address with something funny, as long as it’s appropriate and timely. If you’re a valedictorian, self-deprecating humor will be a hit. Try adding quirky memories from classes that will immerse your audience.

Leave Your Audience Inspired

You are not at the graduation to merely receive your diploma. As a speaker, you need to leave your audience inspired on the next chapter of their lives. Encourage them to find their purpose and make a difference in the world.

Some speakers end their speeches with another quote. Here is the one I used in my high school speech, but there are tons to be found on the internet you can use that might better suit your needs.

  • “All our dreams can come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.” — Walt Disney

Finally, thank everyone for taking the time to listen to your speech. Express gratitude toward your classmates for the memories over the last four years.

Proofread Your Work

Read your writing out loud and fix parts that don’t sound pleasing. Doing so will make your writing more powerful and precise. Look out for flowery language, excessive adjectives, and lengthy sentences.

When editing, make sure to remove cliches from your writing. These are words and phrases that have been overused in speech and writing. These include phrases like “all walks of life,” “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Try sharing more personal anecdotes and collective memories than tired pieces of advice. This will make the speech more interesting and customized for the audience. Find out what your fellow high school graduates and the rest of the audience want to hear and know, then write it concisely and effectively.

Once you’re done fixing clarity issues, it’s time to fix structural errors. Perform several edits on your speech to remove all spelling and grammar mistakes.

Practice Your High School Graduation Speech

There’s no exact formula for the perfect valedictorian or commencement speech. But if you follow my tips and examples and speak from the heart, your fellow graduates will live by your words as they go about their futures.

Remember to keep your engaging speech positive and inspiring. Recall memories from high school, then make them look forward to creating new ones in their careers or college.

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16 Best Graduation Speeches That Leave a Lasting Impression

By Kristi Kellogg and Noor Brara

Listen to words of wisdom from the best graduation speeches.

Some of the most impactful and inspiring sentiments are shared during graduation speeches delivered by the leaders we look up to. Graduation speeches from celebrities , entrepreneurs, authors and other influential thinkers are motivational, inspiring, thought-provoking and just might make you reach for the nearest tissue. After four years of hard work, stress, and exhausting self-discovery, lucky graduates are privy to a life-changing speech to top it all off.

Here, we rounded up up 16 of the best graduation speeches of all time, including words of wisdom from Natalie Portman, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and more.

1. Steve Jobs: Stanford, 2005

"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it."

2. Michelle Obama: Tuskegee University, 2015

"I've found that this journey has been incredibly freeing. Because no matter what happened, I had the piece of mind knowing that all of the chatter, the name-calling, the doubting...all of it was just noise. It did not define me, it didn't change who I was, and most importantly, it couldn't hold me back."

3. Natalie Portman: Harvard, 2015

"I just directed my first film. I was completely unprepared, but my own ignorance to my own limitations looked like confidence and got me into the director's chair. Once there, I had to figure it all out, and my belief that I could handle these things, contrary to all evidence of my ability to do so was half the battle. The other half was very hard work. The experience was the deepest and most meaningful one of my career."

4. Amy Poehler: Harvard University, 2011

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"What I have discovered is this: You can't do it alone … Listen. Say 'yes.' Live in the moment. Make sure you play with people who have your back. Make big choices early and often."

5. Meryl Streep: Barnard College, 2010

"This is your time and it feels normal to you but really there is no normal. There's only change, and resistance to it and then more change."

6. David Foster Wallace: Kenyon College, 2005

"Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master."

7. Barack Obama: Howard University, 2016

"You have to go through life with more than just passion for change; you need a strategy. I’ll repeat that. I want you to have passion, but you have to have a strategy. Not just awareness, but action. Not just hashtags, but votes."

8. Kerry Washington: George Washington University, 2013

"You and you alone are the only person who can live the life that can write the story that you were meant to tell."

9. Conan O'Brien: Dartmouth College, 2011

"There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized. Today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality … Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen."

10. J.K. Rowling: Harvard, 2008

"I stopped pretending to be anything than what I was. My greatest fear had been realized. I had an old typewriter and a big idea. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

11. Oprah Winfrey: Harvard University, 2013

"Learn from every mistake because every experience, encounter, and particularly your mistakes are there to teach you and force you into being more who you are. And then figure out what is the next right move. And the key to life is to develop an internal moral, emotional G.P.S. that can tell you which way to go."

12. Joss Whedon: Wesleyan University, 2013

"You have, which is a rare thing, that ability and the responsibility to listen to the dissent in yourself, to at least give it the floor, because it is the key—not only to consciousness–but to real growth. To accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you are constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in. It's not just parroting your parents or the thoughts of your learned teachers. It is now more than ever about understanding yourself so you can become yourself."

13. George Saunders: Syracuse University, 2013

"Do all the other things, the ambitious things … Travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop)—but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness."

14. Nora Ephron: Wellesley College, 1996

"Be the heroine of your life, not the victim."

15. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Wellesley College, 2015

"As you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in. Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way."

16. Admiral William H. McRaven: University of Texas at Austin, 2014

"If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right."

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Back to Graduation

10 Tips for Writing the Best Graduation Speech

Good afternoon everybody….

We won’t sugar coat it. Writing a speech is tough. It’s why people get paid big bucks to do this as ghostwriters for others. It’s why great lines from great speeches get passed down from one generation to the next.

But relax. You’re not the President of the United States addressing the nation trying to keep things calm after alien spacecraft have just landed on the White House front lawn.

Odds are, instead, you’re one of two things. You’re either the valedictorian (congrats by the way) or you’re the person who submitted their name and speech idea to the graduation committee and was selected to speak at graduation as well (so congrats to you, too.)

Now, about the speech. While it’s certainly up to you what you can say, we just thought that we’d pass on a few tips on how to not make your speech the kind that doesn’t have lines getting passed from one generation to the next – because of how awful it was.

So, with that said here are our top 10 tips for writing a graduation speech. And, some bonus tips for giving a virtual graduation speech.

1: Start out by thanking someone. The fact is you probably didn’t make it through high school all by yourself.  Very few people, if any, do anything without a lot of help from someone else. So, show a little humility.

It’s always good to recognize parents, teachers and friends. But what might be nice to do instead is to publicly thank a specific person. One person who helped you, who made a difference and believed in you. Maybe it’s a coach, a counselor, a teacher or your dad. Whoever. Thank them in front of everybody. And then encourage everyone else to find someone who was instrumental in helping them make it to graduation and tell them to thank them as well.

2: Don’t make it all about you. If you’re the valedictorian, then once again, congratulations. You did well.  But nobody really just wants to hear about why you made it to the podium and they didn’t. That’s not to say you can’t infuse personal observations in your speech, just don’t turn this into a “My life in high school” speech.

Matter a fact, instead of just crafting your speech in the cold confines of your bedroom, why not instead go out and talk to your classmates. Find out what they’re interested in. What has inspired them and what they’ll remember most. Your class’ graduation should be about all of the students, not just you. It’d be nice if your speech recognized all their collective memories.

3: Google it. That’s what it’s there for.  Looking up famous speeches online is a great way to get inspiration. Whether it’s a YouTube video of comedian Seth MacFarlane’s commencement speech at Harvard (hilarious!) Or reading Winston Churchill’s famous “We shall never surrender” speech (goosebumps!) Seeing how other people have done things well in the past is a good point of reference for how you should be doing it today.

4: Keep it short and sweet. Yes, your speech is important, or you wouldn’t have been asked to give it. But don’t go overboard. People aren’t there to see you drone on and on. They’re there to either celebrate their own accomplishments or the accomplishments of family and close friends. You don’t want people to be checking their watches during your speech or hoping you’ll hurry things up.

Therefore, don’t ramble on forever. Your speech should be no more than 10 minutes unless you’ve been given instructions otherwise. Think about how long do you usually sit still for a YouTube video? There’s a reason the more popular ones aren’t very long. Learn from that.

5: Don’t say anything you’ll regret in 20 years. Matter of fact, let’s amend this to, “Don’t say anything you’ll regret 10 minutes after saying it.” Most kids who are selected to be graduation speakers are the kind who have always set a good example. That said, every year, there’s always a few who want to take a controversial stand, call out a teacher or administrator, or make an inappropriate joke. Hint: Don’t be that kid . Instead, write a speech you can show to your own son or daughter 20 years from now and say, “See, that’s how it’s done.”

6: Inspire your fellow students. Commencement isn’t just about celebrating the fact that you finally earned your diploma. It’s also about looking forward to all the places life will take you after graduation. You want your fellow students to leave your speech feeling as though they’ve got the world by the tail and can do anything now that they’re graduates .

7: Don’t use famous quotes. Famous quotes are great for yearbook entries, not graduation speeches. So, put the famous quotes book away. You  are the graduation speaker. People want to know what  you  have to say.  The crowd doesn’t want to hear what Nietzsche or President Kennedy or King Ferdinand has to say.

8: Don’t write “what’s expected.” If you write a speech that’s expected, then what’s the point in anyone showing up? If it’s something we’re all expecting to hear, then the odds are we’ve already heard it and there’s no need to hear it again. Be original.

9: Be specific. Details make things interesting. There’s nothing particularly original or interesting when you say something like, “You know during our freshman year, we were somewhat unsure of ourselves, lost in this big school, and apprehensive about the future.”

But the details that can make it far more personal and relatable.

Example: “You know, it’s amazing how much we’ve all changed in the last four years. On my first day here at school, I could barely reach my locker. I remember thinking most of the senior football players probably were at least 28-years-old. And sadly, I got lost trying to find Freshman English and had to ask for directions – twice. Today, I’m proud to report that I can reach my locker, the football players don’t look older than I do, and I can find any class on this campus. And if all that’s true, just imagine how different will we all be two, four, or ten years from now.”

10: Make your final point your most important point. There’s a reason we’ve saved this for last. Obviously. But the contents of your speech should all along be leading up to the final point of the speech – which will be the most important part. This should be the line that people remember, and that people take away from your speech. You can end it with a quote (not someone else’s famous quote – we already discussed that), a memory, or words of wisdom to impart on your class, just as long as you end it with a punch. The punch can be a funny story. It can be a snappy re-cap, or a call to action. Such as Kennedy’s inauguration speech where he said, “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

BONUS TIPS! The Virtual Graduation Speech

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have either cancelled their graduation plans, or postponed them. Others, however, have chosen to do them virtually . If that’s the case with your school, here are a few tips to help your virtual speech go as smoothly as possible.

First of all, you’ll probably want to change your speech to state the obvious. That it’s being given virtually. Whether or not that changes the rest of your speech will be up to you.

You’ll also want to make sure you look your best. Be sure your light source is in front of you or to your side. If the light is behind you it will make you look too dark. Keep the background clear of distractions. Look at your web cam when you speak, not the screen, and finally use the same gestures and mannerisms you would when normally speaking.

From a technical standpoint, be sure your microphone is turned on and, if it is at all possible, do a rehearsal to make sure your equipment is working properly. Also, place your camera (computer) on a level surface that’s not going to shake or wobble.

Whether you stand or sit down is up to you. However, this is one instance where YOU get to determine the atmosphere when giving a speech, so simply do what makes you feel the most comfortable.

In the end, your speech shouldn’t be overwhelming or daunting. Instead, just think of it as connecting with your graduating class one last time before you all go your separate ways. And, as a plus, if you’re planning a career which will involve public speaking, you can think of this as a great way to practice.


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How to Write a Graduation Speech

Published by Boni on August 26, 2023 August 26, 2023

What is a Graduation Speech?

A graduation speech is delivered at the graduation event to congratulate the graduates and provide them with advice and motivation . The speaker could be a student or professor. Your chance to shine in front of the entire school will be during your graduation speech. This day has been long overdue, and it has now happened! The address should be brief, short and contain a blend of humor and heartfelt good wishes.

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It keeps the atmosphere at the graduation ceremony cheerful and helps the commencement speakers relax. A graduation speech is an occasion to rejoice, reflect on the previous year, and look forward. For the rest of your life, you will recall this moment. The speech needs to be brief, engaging, and peppered with humor.

Elements of Graduation Speech

Here are some key elements of the graduation speech that will make the graduation memorable and cheerful:

  • Brief: Be truthful while keeping the audience interested.
  • Timing: This should be shortened to fit the time provided.
  • Memorable: Keep in mind to include unique events.
  • Accomplishments: Celebrate accomplishments.
  • Reflection: Consider important occasions and reflect on them.
  • The future: knowledge and skills gained for an improved future.

Graduation is the last significant task many students must complete before summer break, even when school is practically over. Graduation ceremonies are important life events, whether finishing high school or receiving a college degree. The pressure may also mount if you have been requested to speak at the graduation.

It takes extraordinary thought and creativity to create a graduation speech since it combines art and inspiration. It is a chance to make a deep impression on the audience and the graduates. Use the stages below as a guide to help you write an engaging and memorable speech or you could alternatively use a free speech writer generator .

  • Choose a topic

 Building the talk around a main subject or message will help if your goal is for the audience to leave your graduation feeling moved and motivated (Who does not, right?). As you speak, consider what matters most and what you want listeners to learn from you. Whenever you have a theme in mind, choosing quotes and stories that relate to it will be simpler, allowing you to give a speech that will amaze your audience. Discover a segment suggesting engaging informative speech topics for college students.

  • Begin with brainstorming ideas

Prepare your speech by considering what you want to say. What have been your trip’s high points so far? What have you gained from this experience? Think about how you may share your experiences, obstacles, and wins with your audience in a way that will be relevant and motivating to them. Any thoughts you have should be put on paper. Try to reduce them to the most crucial or essential concepts.

  • Start with gratitude

On graduation day, you must start with a few formalities before taking the stage. It would be best to begin by expressing gratitude to the audience and the previous speakers. Then, describe how it made you feel to be allowed to address the crowd at such an important event. Remember to take this step on the big day and write it down before.

For example, Thank you for coming today, [prior speaker’s name], and to friends, family, the professors, and the other graduates. It is an honor to commemorate this occasion with you.

  • Personalize your speech

Sharing personal anecdotes with your audience—even ones that involve failures or humiliations—is a potent approach to establishing an audience connection and making your point. Build on your experiences as a student when you write your speech, and be specific about how those experiences have shaped and prepared you for the future.

  • Infuse your personality

While graduation speeches may have a set format, that does not mean they must be monotonous. Draw on your sense of humor, original stories, and life experiences to give the speech personality and appeal. What does this look like in use? Being wholly yourself might make your speech stand out even if you are not an author or comedian. For example, you could tell the lecturer why you have ever been thrown out of the class.

  • Write an outline

Once you have a general framework, write a more thorough outline that contains the precise themes and illustrations you intend to use in your speech. This will keep you on task and guarantee that your address is flowing. With primary themes and examples supporting each part, your outline should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Make sure to think about how you want to switch between points and how you want to organize your speech as a whole. Your address will be easier to write and have a clearer, logical framework if you have a well-organized plan.

  • Reflect, then look ahead

Start drafting your speech while using your outline as a reference. At this point, do not worry about making it flawless; get your ideas down on paper. Use examples and personal experiences from your own life to explain your arguments and make your writing more engaging. You can also use quotations or material from other sources to strengthen and add credibility to your opinion. Keep in mind to write with sincerity and in your voice.

  • Avoid clichés

Being motivational without using clichés is challenging to accomplish while writing a graduation speech. It is doubtful you will resort to cliched, overused words if you incorporate personal tales and personality into your address. But occasionally, they still manage to get in. If that is the case, consider replacing them with a different perspective.

  • Edit and revise

Once you have a draft of your speech, proceed back and revise it to ensure it flows smoothly and is error-free; pay attention to your grammar and punctuation; check for any awkward or repetitive phrasing; consider your speech’s tone and style; and make sure it is appropriate. For more extensive editing and revision, you might want to consider seeking the assistance of a tutor or writing center.

  • Practice, practice, practice

Practice your speech multiple times to ensure you feel at ease addressing a crowd. Ask a friend or family member to listen to you and provide criticism while you practice in front of a mirror. Be mindful of your body language, loudness, and pacing while speaking to ensure it is clear and confident. By practicing your speech, you will grow more comfortable with the content and be better able to give it on graduation day.

  • Finish with a firm conclusion

Summarize your main points and impart a memorable and motivating message to your audience. This could be a quote, a call to action, or a heartfelt thank you to your friends and family. Your speech’s conclusion should be robust and memorable to wrap things up that would make a lasting impact on your audience. Consider the message you want your fellow students to gain from your vocabulary before you write your conclusion. If you are unable to accomplish all these, you could get assistance from a reputable speech writing service .

Sample Graduation Speech Outline

Here is an outline of how to write a speech for a graduation:

1. Introduction

  • Appreciate the previous speaker

Gratitude and grace should come first. Do not just thank the person who brought you to the platform; thank them for their efforts at the school. 

  • Introduce yourself

Never assume that everyone in the room will be familiar with you. Please introduce yourself and state your name.

2. Main Points

  • Share an inspiration message

Prepare to share a personal story or inspirational phrase with your peers. Explain how it relates to the school experiences of your class. This will be a great chance to gather and invigorate your classmates’ interest in the future.

  • Share some valuable advice

This may be the most crucial section of your speech. Give some wise counsel for the future. Highlight a few of the things you might expect in the future. You might also impart wisdom on the individuals and experiences yet to come. Maintain an optimistic attitude. Remind everybody that they are capable. 

3. Conclusion

  • Reaffirm your inspirational phrase

Give more context to the inspirational quotation you started with by repeating it at the end. Even though you just briefly reminisced about one of those “good times,” the future is what everyone is most excited about.

  • Create a call to action

Encourage your fellow classmates to take action. Inspire them with a motivational statement that exhorts them to change the world.

  • Gratitude to all

Thank everyone for their time, please. Thank them for listening to your speech and their time during the past few years’ memories.

Tips to Help you Write Graduation Speech

It takes careful planning, honesty, and practice to create a graduation speech that captures the soul of your journey and motivates the audience. You may construct a discourse recognizing your achievements and providing insightful advice for the future by reflecting on your experiences, selecting key topics, and sharing personal stories. Remember that your words can inspire, motivate, and leave a lasting impression on your fellow graduates and everyone in attendance. Below are tips on how to write a good graduation speech:

  • Draft your speech

Create an outline for your speech. This would make it simpler for you to put your ideas into writing.

  • Create An Introduction

You should only use a few sentences for your introduction. You should thank the previous speaker and introduce yourself in this section.

  • Your speech should be memorable

Incorporate a motivational saying or remark into your speech. While maintaining focus on your speech’s initial objective.

  • Match the wording to your audience

Keep your vocabulary simple enough for your readers to understand. Use terms that are more widely used or recognized. Your audience includes both adults and children. Look for phrases that appeal to the broader people.

  • Edit and revise rour speech

Before giving your speech:

Make revisions. If you still have room for correction, always go back and do it.

Verify your work for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Make sure your tone is appropriate for the audience by reviewing it.

Honesty and connection are vital mechanisms for writing a memorable graduation speech. Your speech will have more meaning if you reflect on shared experiences, incorporate personal anecdotes, and embrace essential ideas. Your speech serves as an inspiration for the graduating class by addressing both previous accomplishments and anticipated difficulties. Explore the best demonstration speech ideas and topics.

Remember that keeping your speech brief and sincere helps sustain involvement. Thank everyone who helped, and after some practice, speak confidently when you deliver your message. Summarizing the key points and offering a concluding statement that sticks in the mind can help you make a lasting impact. Your commencement speech turns into a guiding light that shows the way forward.

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'Dawson's' star James Van Der Beek to give Drew commencement, 26 years after dropping out

2-minute read.

writing about graduation speech

When Hollywood came calling in 1998, young actor James Van Der Beek ditched his studies at Drew University to take the title role in "Dawson's Creek."

Twenty-six years and 128 "Dawson" episodes later, the film and TV veteran, 47, will return to the Morris County school to collect an honorary degree and deliver one of three commencement addresses to the Class of 2024.

Van Der Beek will speak to students graduating from Drew's College of Liberal Arts on the lawn at Mead Hall on May 11, the school in Madison announced this week. The Connecticut native was studying at Drew in 1998 when he was cast in the titular role on "Dawson's Creek," a new prime-time syndicated TV drama that followed the complicated lives of teens coming of age on Cape Cod.

Podcaster Drew Holmes recalled when he and Van Der Beek were in the same opera history class at Drew, and the teacher announced his departure.

“Jim (ed. note: he is definitely not a 'Jim') will not be joining us for the rest of the semester," the teacher said. "He is filming something called 'Dawson’s Creek.' I guess he’s Dawson or something.”

James Van Der Beek set sail on 'Dawson's Creek'

The hit series ran until 2003, and also helped launch the careers of actors Michelle Williams , Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson. Van Der Beek went on to star in several films and TV series including "Varsity Blues," The Rules of Attraction," "Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23" and, most recently, the Emmy-nominated FX series "Pose."

He also co-created, wrote, produced and starred in the 2017 series "What Would Diplo Do?"

More: Drew University, Madison report progress in 53-acre forest preservation effort

Van Der Beek began his college career at Drew in 1995, receiving an academic scholarship, studying English and sociology and singing with the a cappella group 36 Madison Ave.

He will leave the campus next month with an honorary bachelor of arts degree for his “selfless service and exemplary commitment to the mission of Drew," university officials stated.

Two more 2024 commencement speakers

On May 10, two days of graduation events will begin at the college with social-justice activist Harriett Jane Olson , a former general secretary and CEO of United Women in Faith, delivering a commencement address for the Drew Theological School. Olson also will receive an honorary doctor of divinity degree.

That same day, Laura Winters, a professor of literary studies, writing, and studies in religion in Drew's Arts & Letters program, will serve as the speaker for the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. Also a longtime professor at nearby Saint Elizabeth University, Winters has taught at Drew since 1991, focusing on modernist and postmodern literature and film.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Leguizamo among past speakers

Van Der Beek joins a notable group who have delivered graduation speeches at Drew in recent years. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke in 2016. Broadway star and film actor John Leguizamo spoke during a rainy commencement in 2018. Former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman spoke the following year.

In between examples of his trademark edgy humor, the energetic Leguizamo encouraged the graduates to "dream one size too big."

"Never give up," he urged. "You only fail when you give up trying."

William Westhoven is a local reporter for For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community,  please subscribe or activate your digital account today .

Email:  wwesthoven@ 

Twitter:  @wwesthoven


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College of Arts and Sciences announces guest and student speakers for 2024 graduation ceremony


The College of Arts and Sciences announced that 1974 College and 1977 Penn Carey Law graduate James Johnson, who currently sits on the School of Arts and Sciences Board of Advisors, will speak at the College's Class of 2024 graduation ceremony on May 19. 

Johnson majored in history and went on to earn his J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, eventually returning to earn a certificate in climate change from the College of Liberal and Professional Studies in 2021. He will be joined at the ceremony by College senior Katie Volpert, who will deliver the student speech. 

Johnson was involved in several student organizations as an undergraduate, including the varsity fencing team and the Black Student League. He spent over a decade serving in various legal support roles at Boeing Company, including as vice president, corporate secretary, and assistant general counsel. He then worked as general counsel for Loop Capital Markets , a Chicago-based investment banking firm, until retiring in 2014. 

Johnson has remained involved in University operations and governance. In addition to SAS Board of Directors, he chairs the College External Advisory Board and was a member of the University Board of Trustees from 2014 to 2018. Outside of Penn, he sits on the board of directors of many companies, including Energizer Holdings, Inc. , the Ameren Corporation , Hanesbrands, Inc. , and Edgewell Personal Care .

Wharton announces speakers for 2024 Commencement ceremonies

How Penn's Commencement speakers have changed since 1938

Volpert, who will also address the Class of 2024, studies philosophy and political science with a minor in survey research and data analytics. She is the president of Penn Mock Trial , where she has captained teams to Nationals and won several "Outstanding Attorney" awards. 

Volpert is a Penn Program on Opinion Research and Election Studies fellow and member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society. Following graduation, she will go to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she will serve as the deputy clerk at the Charlottesville General District Court before eventually applying to law school.

These speakers continue a long tradition of having both College graduates and current students speak at the ceremony. Last year’s speakers were 2010 College graduate and award-winning writer Joshua Bennett and Hoang Le, who was a Wharton senior at the time.

The Daily Pennsylvanian is an independent, student-run newspaper. Please consider making a donation to support the coverage that shapes the University. Your generosity ensures a future of strong journalism at Penn.


More like this.

WCPO - Cincinnati, Ohio

Jason, Travis Kelce surprised with commencement ceremony at Cincinnati 'New Heights' live show

writing about graduation speech

CINCINNATI — As Jason and Travis Kelce began wrapping up a night full of surprises at Fifth Third Arena, the two got their own surprise from the university they rep so hard.

Neither brother, the audience at the "New Heights" live show learned, got the chance to walk across the stage and grab their diploma when they graduated from UC.

Finally, with their family and thousands of fans watching, the Kelces participated in their commencement ceremony.

Tonight’s #NewHeightsCincy ends with Jason and Travis Kelce graduating … and some important words from Travis during their commencement speech — WCPO 9 (@WCPO) April 12, 2024

Travis Kelce said he wanted to walk but couldn't after he lost the helmet the school said he had to return in order to graduate. UC presented him with what he said was the exact same helmet so that he could finally graduate.

The younger Kelce was also tasked with being the impromptu commencement speaker, appearing to get a little emotional as he wore a full cap and gown.

"To all my fellow students ... before we make this thing official, I thought I'd give you guys some advice," Travis said before quoting the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right." "You gotta fight. For your right. To PAAAAAAARTY!"

In typical Travis fashion, before being handed his diploma, the 34-year-old chugged the beer he was holding.

His big brother Jason, wearing shorts and a sleeveless vest under his cap and gown, didn't say anything while receiving his diploma — only smiling big and posing for pictures alongside school officials.

CONGRATS GRADS: Jason and Travis Kelce were surprised with their own graduation ceremony at #NewHeightsCincy — WCPO 9 (@WCPO) April 12, 2024

"This is a night to remember," Jason yelled as the two thanked the crowd at the end of the show.

The Kelces finished their night by telling the audience they hope to return to Cincinnati next year for another live show.

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Marshall Kramsky


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    Trying to write a graduation speech that both inspires and keeps people listening can be a little tough. Learn how to write a great one with this outline!

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  10. 50 Top Graduation Speech Ideas (& Examples)

    50 Top Graduation Speech Ideas (& Examples) Try to search online and you'll find a lot of graduation speech examples. If you're in charge of giving a speech during this important event, you have the choice of whether to compose a long or short graduation speech. As long as you're able to convey your message, the length isn't that relevant.

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    5. Keep it short. Unless you are a national leader using the speech to announce a major policy, you won't need more than 20 minutes, tops. Twelve minutes would be even better. The average speaker reads about 120 words a minute, so that's about 1,400-2,400 words or 9-15 pages (double spaced, 16 point font).

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  22. How to Write a Graduation Speech

    Here are some key elements of the graduation speech that will make the graduation memorable and cheerful: Brief: Be truthful while keeping the audience interested. Timing: This should be shortened to fit the time provided. Memorable: Keep in mind to include unique events. Accomplishments: Celebrate accomplishments.

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