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Graduation Venues

How to Set Up Your Graduation Venue


Every graduation coordinator wants the graduation venue to look terrific. To do that you’ll need to consider several things. Here are some helpful tips you’ll want to keep on hand as you run through the location.  

graduation venue

Display the School Logo and Symbol

Just about every school has its logo or symbol. This school logo should be proudly displayed during the graduation ceremony, to encourage school spirit. The graduation coordinator and decorators should place the school logo and mascot image around the venue in everyone’s view.

The usual places to display school logos and symbols are:

In front of or on the podium

On the wall behind the podium

At the entrance to the parking lot

Hung above the venue’s entrance

On the graduation program


Walk through the site while taking photographs. Try to see the graduation venue through the eyes of a guest. This will give you a good sense of where to place school logos and symbols.

graduation venue

Arrange the Podium

Organizing the podium or the stage area is an important task for the venue decorators. The stage area is where the speakers will give their speeches, and it is also where the students will receive their diplomas. The podium is usually placed at the center of the stage for the speaker so that everyone can see him or her.  Sometimes the podium is set to the left or right.

Usually, the decoration for the stage is kept simple during the graduation ceremony. Too many decorations and banners will take guests attention away from the graduates. If the graduation coordinator rents a venue outside the school, the place should have a staging area. The major focus of the stage should only be the speaker and the students that walk across it.


Make sure to select a venue with an elevated stage and podium with microphones. Hang a large school banner behind the podium. Place a smaller school logo or crest on the front of the podium. Decorate the base of the podium with a few bouquets of flowers in your school colors.

graduation venue

Check the Speaker System

We recommend you always test the sound system. It plays an extremely crucial part of the graduation ceremony. Make sure all the microphones and speakers work. And make sure all the microphones and speakers are where you need them.

The speakers shouldn’t be too near the students and the guests. For example, a seven-foot speaker three feet from the first row of students isn’t advisable. You might just blow the cap off their head before they even have a chance to toss it skyward.

Both before the ceremony and during rehearsals use the sound systems to familiarize everyone with their use. Doing so will help identify any defects or problems before the graduation ceremony.

It is ideal to have technicians present during the ceremony, to troubleshoot any problems, should they arise.


Check and double check the speaker and sound system. Try to arrange for technicians to be on hand, to rectify any momentary mishaps.

graduation venue

Arrange the Seating

With proper seating arrangements for the students, coordinating the processional walk and diploma hand out is a breeze.

The graduation coordinator should know the seating arrangements for all those attending the ceremony. Including students, parents, teachers, and extended family members. You’ll want to share this information with all members of the graduation committee and assistants.

The ushers you appoint will help guests and students find their seats. So obviously, they will need to know the seating layout as well.

If the venue you select already has built-in seats, then you will have to work with what you have. If seating is set-up as needed, then we have a few recommendations.


If you have to set up seats, we advise you plan for two or three sets of rows with eight feet in between them to allow for foot traffic. The rows themselves should have at least two feet of space in front of and behind each seat to allow guests to move around comfortably.

We suggest you reserve the very first row of seating, right of center stage, for VIP guests, speakers, and faculty. We advise you set student seating to be in the front rows, left of center stage. Arrange the students in alphabetical order by last name row by row from leftmost seat towards the center. That way each row of students can quickly file out onto the stage when you start calling their names.

All guest seating should be open on a first come first serve basis. Adding a rope between the student/faculty area and the guest area is an easy way to prevent attendees from seating in the wrong area.


Make a visual map of the venue and label the seating areas. Distribute the map to all committee members. Practice with students to make sure they know how to file in and out of their seats.

graduation venue

Arrange the Area for Processional Walk

The entrance of the graduates and their precessional walk is probably one of the biggest highlights of the event. The graduation coordinator has to arrange the area and provide enough space for the students. You can place a long red carpet along the processional walk area to highlight the area.

As mentioned earlier, this area should be at least eight feet wide to give enough room for the students to walk through the rows of people.   It also allows for photographers to weave past the walking students to get great shots. If you hired a videographer, they could get some excellent clips for a graduation video.


Don’t neglect to take the time to plan enough space for everyone to walk properly. No one wants graduates to stumble or trip as they walk to take their seats or grab their diplomas.

graduation venue

Finalize the Layout of the Venue

The graduation coordinator should present a final layout of the venue to everyone involved. Give everyone a copy; from the school administration to the ushers and all members of the graduation ceremony committee.

If you are using a school band or orchestra, we advise you position them directly in front of the stage, before the rows of seating. Ideally, all band/orchestra members should be in their seats before any students or guests file into the venue.

The technicians, photographers, and videographers should also know the different areas where they should position themselves.

Before the start of the graduation ceremony, the coordinator has to inspect the place to check if the seats, decorations, stage and everything is organized according to the final venue layout.


Check and double check everything once you get to this step in your plans. Everything should be perfect at this stage in the game!

graduation guide

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Keep a lookout for additional articles if you want to learn more! There will be many articles about graduation planning on our blog in the weeks to come. 

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