10 Tips for Writing the Best Graduation Speech
Writing a speech can be difficult. It’s why great speeches are often quoted for generations. But it’s okay if you aren’t. You’re not the President of the United States (YET).
Odds are, you’re the valedictorian (congratulations) or you’re the person who gave their name and speech outline to the graduation committee and you were selected (you still get a congratulations too!)
Now it’s up to you to craft a great graduation. So here are our top 10 tips for writing that perfect 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 do, if any, do anything without help from someone else. Whether it be your parents, your amazing teachers and staff, your best friends, or your classmates. You can even thank a specific person who has helped you or a made a real impact on yourself.
2. Don’t make it all about you.
If you’re the valedictorian, congrats, it is an awesome accomplishment. But don’t use this as a chance to brag. Don’t turn it into a “My life in high school” speech. Instead, maybe speak with your classmates and find out what inspired them and what they will remember most. Your speech should be about all of the students, not just you. Make it collective.
3. Google it.
That’s what google is for. Look at famous speeches to gain inspiration. Whether it’s from a comedian, famous authors, politicians, etc., find examples. Seeing how other people have done things 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 but don’t go overboard. They’re there to celebrate accomplishments of the class. But you don’t want them looking at their watches. So don’t ramble. A lot of popular speeches aren’t very long but are still impactful.
5. Don’t say anything you’ll regret in 20 years.
Better yet, don’t say something you’ll regret in even 10 minutes. There’s some cases where students use their speech to take a controversial stand, call out staff, or make an inappropriate joke. Don’t be that kid. Instead, write a speech you can look back on in 20 years and say, “that’s how it’s done”.
6. Inspire your fellow students.
Commencement isn’t just about celebrating that you’ve finally made it. It’s also about looking forward to all the places life will take you after graduation. You want your classmates to feel as though they’ve got the world in their hands and can do anything now that they’re graduates.
7. Don’t use famous quotes.
They’re great for yearbooks, but you are the graduation speaker. People want to know what you have to say, not someone else.
8. Don’t write “what’s expected.”
If you write a speech that’s expected, what’s the point in saying it? Be original.
9. Be specific.
Details make things interesting. There’s nothing original about, “You know during our freshman year we were unsure of ourselves, lost in our school, and apprehensive about the future.” Be more specific. Try something like, “It’s amazing how much we’ve changed in the last four years. On my first day here, I could barely reach my locker. I thought most of the senior football players were probably 28-years-old. And sadly, I had to ask for directions on how to get to English. Today, I am proud to report I can reach my locker, the football players don’t look older to me, and I can find anything on campus. So just imagine how different we will be in two, four, ten years from now.
10. Make your final point your most important one.
There’s a reason we’ve saved this for last. Obviously. The contents of your speech should all be leading up to your final point of your speech. This is the line people will remember and what they will take away from your speech. You can end it with a memory or words of wisdom.