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Graduation Speech Writing

Below, we’ve shared how to write a graduation speech that connects with your peers, so you can avoid clichés and deliver a message that is equally heartfelt and entertaining. We’ve also included some graduation speech examples for use as a launch point for your writing.

Graduation Speech

Brainstorm Ideas and Themes

Start the process by jotting down stories, events, and major takeaways from your school experience. Are there any individual lessons or insights that you can share with the audience? Why did they ask you to deliver a graduation speech in the first place? Try to find one or two core themes that you can structure your stories around so that they don’t feel like pointless rambling. Use the concepts of tenacity, friendship, and adaptability to connect with your audience on a deep level.

Graduation Speech

Create a Basic Structure

Next, you’ll need to draft an outline for the speech, so that you can figure out the timing for specific stories and insights. To ensure that you keep up momentum throughout the delivery, start with an intro worth remembering, then the body, and finally wrapping up with a solid conclusion that connects to your core themes. There should be a subtle balance between honesty, humor, and wisdom. Ideally, you don’t want to make people laugh throughout the speech (even if you’re a professional comedian), but you don’t want to make them weep, either.

Graduation Speech

Draft a Strong Introduction

On a good day, it’s pretty difficult to get people’s attention with a speech, but graduation ceremonies put friends and family in the baking sun for hours. That’s a recipe for restlessness and boredom. When deciding how to write a graduation speech, you need to start with a hook that piques their interest. Here are a couple of graduation speech examples:

“Truth be told, I never graduated from college, and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today, I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it, no big deal. Just three stories.” -Steve Jobs, Stanford 2005

“Good morning graduates, families and friends of graduates, mothers, fathers, brothers, brothers from other mothers, sisters, roommates, “roommates”, grandmas and grandpas, mee-maws and papaws, bubbies and nannas, and bappas, Nani Gee-Gees and their special friend Herb, Aunt Ronis, Uncle Garys, and people who met on Tinder this morning.” -Maya Rudolph, Tulane 2015

Graduation Speech

Tie the Conclusion to Your Theme

Once you share every related story, joke, and theme in your speech, ask this question: “What’s the main lesson here?” Perhaps it’s that grades aren’t as important as wisdom and experience, or maybe you’ve learned that mental toughness can get you through the hardest times. Use the last couple minutes of your speech to reiterate this big lesson, and deliver it with total honesty and intention.  

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