It is an established tradition in US high schools, colleges, and universities that valedictorians, students with highest academic achievements, highest grades and GPA, give motivational talks during graduation ceremony. Giving a speech in front of classmates on this important day is an honor, as well as big responsibility.
Coming up with list of suitable graduation speech ideas, settling on favorite one, structuring future talk, producing appropriate content with desired language or style is real challenge. Especially, for somebody who does not have extensive public speaking skills (you can try to use ideas for demonstration speech). Below, we attempt to throw some light onto many of these aspects.
Ways to Structure Graduation Speech
Commencement speech is very personal writing. There is no particular structure for graduation lecture as it may be individual and unique, depending on speaker. Below is just an attempt to highlight an outline or few useful ideas on how to write a commencement speech:
- Introduction. Graduation speech should normally start with part where you briefly introduce yourself or thank previous speaker for introducing you.
- Hook. After that, use engaging hook to capture attention or raise curiosity. This could be represented by some inspiring quotes, bald or even shocking statement (provided it can be supported with arguments), personal overwhelming feeling, funny story or statement that gradually flows into deeper thought. In other words, use whatever you think would work best in exciting audience or creating anticipation, while still helping introduce topic.
- Body. Tell main story/stories supporting arguments or moral. This could be an event from past experience shared with college classmates. Serve it with moral or to illustrate point. Use it only to support your line of thought or initial argument. It should not be out of context recall of some good moments.
- Element of surprise. Good talk should have sudden turns or surprise. For instance, in evoking failure at the end of an enthusiastic project, but ideally, failure as an experience for learning something vital.
- Future. As alternative or in addition, speak about future or what awaits all students. Mention concerns, challenges but making links to present moment, competence and skills gained. Describe exciting vision of moment in future when most of classmates would be parents and would have some achievements behind. Mention set of common values and ideals that would be uniting you, despite the years.
- Conclusion. At the end include a call for action addressed to your classmates. Urge them to live by these acquired ideals, but also encourage them to make a difference or bring the world closer to these ideals.
Obviously, all these elements may be combined in whatever format might be appropriate to ensure an exciting flow or deliver profound message. Still, if you are troubled by assignments, struggling to shape well-structured discourse, use speech writing services online at any level: generating commencement speech ideas, creating detailed outline or draft, writing from an outline, rewriting according to new instructions, editing, etc.
15 Memorable Themes for Graduation
Below are few college or high school graduation speech ideas that seniors or high school students may use for inspiration or adopt prompts for their own needs:
- Describe legacy that university/college/high school leaves for upcoming generation, our society and impact you think it may have on state, federal, international, or perhaps even interplanetary level.
- Elaborate on greatest accomplishment of this generation or fellow students in particular, what problems we would be able solve and which ones will give us hard times. This may involve some constructive soul-searching.
- Recount important decision you have taken recently (a leap of faith) and how all years spent in respective academic environment enabled you to take this decision. Don’t be afraid to list your fears, ideas, concerns, expected challenges, but also list things that would assist in overcoming these issues, how academic institution helped contribute to this. Mention desired areas for improvement.
- Imagine what similar class of US students say during graduation talk 100 years from now. What things would have changed? What would stay the same? Ask audience to share ideas.
- Describe how years spent in academic environment have changed you intellectually, morally, in terms of personality traits like discipline, work ethic, empathy, sense of responsibility towards your community, etc.
- Think of some ideas that you would offer yourself or anyone belonging to your generation considering current times and current challenges in world.
- List things you are grateful for. Thank your family, friends, colleagues, teachers, university administration that enabled graduation.
- Describe how teacher, professor, instructor helped you overcome academic or personal challenges. Work towards your achievements through direct patient help, personal example, etc.
- Deliver philosophical discourse on how life should be lived or on what matters to you during graduation ceremony. It may concern pursuing achievements, living by values, enjoying every day, personal growth or ideas, improving life in your community or elsewhere on a planet.
- Expand on values that were imprinted into your personality during studies. How they shaped your current personality and what their role would be in future.
- In another philosophical experiment, portray how world is rapidly changing with regard to competence needed today. Mention how, due to education, you feel on the edge of this wave of transformation/change rather than overwhelmed by it.
- Describe your or classmates’ future, what will the US society be like when you’ll be 40, 50 or even 70. Ask your audience a question will engage them into dialogue.
- Intercalate fragments of poems, songs, writings into graduation talk to deliver personalized message or ideas. It may be funny as well as serious.
- Sharing list of epic failures, lesson learned from them, how valuable these lessons are likely to prove later in life. This could be funny but also deep. Base such talk around your classmates which makes it even more engaging to listen, but make sure you don’t insult anybody.
- Express gratefulness to respective study environment for cherishing uniqueness of your personality (despite some imbalances and complications), encouraging its harmonious development rather than forcing an intellectual, lifestyle, or moral template upon you and your ideas.
Should a Commencement Speech Be Long?
Timing is vital when delivering commencement talk. Don’t be too fast to create impression you are not prepared and did not give enough importance to this issue. It is equally important not to give an excessively long talk, boring out everybody present at ceremony or becoming most memorable person of the day in a bad sense. Good graduation speech should not be shorter than 5 minutes and longer than 12 minutes.
Our website allows to convert speech to minutes by pasting your text and obtaining estimation of time it would take to deliver it. Default speech rate used is 140 words per minute, roughly valid for most speakers. Adjust it from 100 to 200 words per minute, it depends on speed.
You can also use this tool in reverse mode, by pasting desired talk length and obtaining word count as guidance. The most precise way is to record a longer text and determine how fast you are and use it every time you need estimation.
Tips for Best Graduation Speeches
- Be creative
Write creatively, make heavy use of brainstorming techniques if needed, generate tons of ideas and let them compete – let top ideas emerge as winners of this process. Once the writing is done, edit very carefully. Go through the text multiple times, scanning for grammar mistakes, suboptimal phrasing and word choice, content issues, style (you want the text to be inspirational and even a bit emotional). Don’t be afraid to use metaphors in place of common words to enhance message and make it sound more original and meaningful during graduation ceremony.
- Allocate more days for it
One could write text in an hour, but it is very advisable that you let it linger in mind for a few days rereading it occasionally – this will likely help eliminate underdeveloped ideas, exaggerated claims, overseen details, stereotypic views, etc.
- Read your text out loud
This would give an estimate about the duration, but would also reveal unnaturally long sentences and unexpected tongue twisters. When you have the final edited version, read out the text many times to be very familiar with it, or even learn it by heart if you do not plan to use notes during graduation ceremony.
- Gather feedback
Collect suggestions or feedback from other people, like friends and classmates. It is also a good idea to reach out to different generations (your parents, grandparents) to check out their reaction and suggestions – your talk would be more memorable if time itself proves your words.
- Reduce stress
Vast majority of students would experience significant stage fright on such an important day. You will likely not find a magic technique to make yourself stay focused and calm like a military on a mission. Rather, you’ll have some adrenaline rush to deal with. But keep in mind that there are some techniques that may help significantly, for instance, taking very deep breaths (this is proven to calm the organism at a biological level), or adopting techniques to memorize the key points of your talk (mnemonic techniques like “memory palace”).
There is virtually limitless choice with regard to the graduation speech themes you can go for. The same is true about structure – being highly creative piece of writing, no rigid structure must be enforced. Although, a few general rules/tendencies do apply. Following a few basic recommended ideas when preparing for the talk and respecting the timing would help avoid missteps.
Got Inspired But No Time To Write?
Choosing Edubirdie will guarantee that you get a high-quality original graduation talk while being able to prepare for other aspects of the ceremony. How to write a graduation speech is not an issue for us! We allow collaboration with the writer throughout the creative process. Set out general guidelines and share personal details when placing the order, but also work with the professional speech writer on the produced outline or draft to make speech match your biography and personality. This way, there will be zero inconsistencies between who you are and what you tell the audience about yourself.
Note that we can also help with other tasks, like informative speech, or persuasive speech topics that can be useful during your studies, not only when graduating or just providing with ideas for graduation ceremony. Our confidentiality policy guarantees that our support remains absolutely anonymous.