how to give a graduation speech examples

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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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.)

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Speech Writing

Graduation Speech

Barbara P

Crafting the Perfect Graduation Speech: A Guide with Examples

10 min read

Graduation Speech

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How to Write an Extemporaneous Speech? A Step-by-Step Guide

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.

Barbara P

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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24 Graduation Speeches: Speeches You Give in Pointy Hats

A picture of a graduate and his grandfather

Graduation is a big day for graduates, their families, and teachers. If you are called to give a graduation speech, you want to make it special.  I want to share with you what makes a good graduation speech and give you tips on how to write one that will make an impact.

As we begin, you need to wrap your mind around two main things:

  • Most people do not remember the graduation speeches they hear, but they do remember the feeling they got in the moment–inspired, bored, challenged.
  • The more you tap into shared memories, the more meaningful the speech will be for those listening.

There are two main types of graduation speakers, the student speaker, and the headline speaker. At one college at our university, there is a speech contest to be the graduation speaker and at another college, it is someone who has been nominated by a faculty member. How you get there varies from place to place At the local high school, the valedictorian is often the speaker. I recently went to high school graduation and they had seven valedictorians so they had seven speakers–yes, it was as long as you can imagine.

When thinking about giving a graduation speech, you have to ask, “What does the audience need from me?” They need you to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and focus on the future. This chapter will walk you through the essentials of giving a graduation speech and then give you several example speeches as samples of key elements.

Gather the Details

  • How long will you speak?
  • Who will be in attendance?
  • Who will introduce you?
  • Are you the only speaker?
  • Will there be a microphone?
  • Can you use speech notes?
  • Brainstorm with Friends

This is the fun part. Sit down with friends and make a list of all the things that come to mind about the college experience. When brainstorming, write down everything you think of and don’t try to judge whether it should be included, just go with it.  There is an entire chapter on how to brainstorm here. 

  • Food, dining halls, local restaurants
  • Hangouts on campus
  • Social events
  • Notable classes
  • Significant memories
  • Current events
  • Shared college experiences (on our campus it might be buying scantrons, hearing the bells of Old Main, and using Blackboard.

Organizational Format

Most all student graduation speeches include the past, present, and future format.

  • Present: Opening statement and the thank you.
  • Past: The shared memory.
  • Future: The challenge and a closing statement.

Manuscript Format

Most student graduation speeches are in manuscript format. That helps you from getting overwhelmed at the moment and that also gives the school a chance to censor– I mean to approve of–your content. There is an entire chapter on writing a manuscript that you can refer to here. 

Pick a Theme

Many graduation speeches use a theme. Here are some of the most common graduation themes.

It can be helpful to pick a theme and connect a metaphor to your theme. There is an entire chapter on how to do that here. 

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

Start Your Speech with an Introduction

Most introductions acknowledge the occasion, offer thanks, and lead into the main idea. Shutterfly suggests these as openings.

  • “Thank you [person who introduced you]. And thank you to the students, teachers, parents, and staff who made these four years everything that they were.”
  • “It’s my honor today to deliver the commencement address for this incredible student body.”
  • “It is my pleasure to welcome students, families, and faculty to graduation day at [school’s name]. Every one of you has made an impact on the graduates who sit here today.”
  • “I stand here before you, looking back on four years of legacy we’ve all made together.”

Use the Principles of Good Ceremonial Speaking

I have written a chapter on each component of ceremonial speaking and you can reference those you need:

  • Tell a story
  • Use identification, narration, and magnification
  • Use colorful language
  • Use metaphor, simile,  and theme
  • Put your speech in manuscript format

Look for Stories that Celebrate Common Experiences

Notice how Jaclyn Marston reflects on specific classes and memories. (Watch starting at .54 seconds).

Watch how Lin Manuel Miranda references the familiar and the obscure in his address to the University of Pennsylvania (start watching at 1:12).

Use a Theme

Notice how she uses the theme–“What do you want to be” when you grow up and alters it to  “What do you want to do?” She opens with this and wraps back around to this same idea at the end.

Be Vulnerable

Notice how this speaker admits his shortcomings. We feel like he is honest and vulnerable so we hang on his everyword.

Headline Speaker Sample Speeches

Headline speakers are usually someone famous or notable. Speeches by those individuals almost always include stories and challenges. I have included several here. Pick two of them to analyze.

Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories. Steve Jobs

These highlights of Lou Holtz’s graduation speech is full of great challenges and life lessons.

Tim Minchin

“One: Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you might end up.

Two: Don’t seek happiness. Keep busy and aim to make someone else happy and you might find you get some as a side effect.

Three:  Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate.

Four: Exercise. Take care of your body: you’re going to need it.

Five: Be hard on your opinions. Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privileges.

Six: Even if you’re not a teacher, be a teacher. Share your ideas. Don’t take for granted your education.

Seven: Define yourself by what you love. Be demonstrative and generous in your praise of those you admire. Send thank you cards and give standing ovations. Be pro stuff not just anti stuff.

Eight: Respect people with less power than you.

Nine: Finally, don’t rush. You don’t need to know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life.”

As you can see, graduation speeches can be serious or lighthearted; they can be personal, motivational, and informative. The key thing is that the speech should be authentic. It should be as unique as the speaker.

Key Takeaways

Remember This!

  • Graduation speeches should reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and inspire towards the future.
  • Consider the needs of the audience and find commonalities.
  • Tell a story.
  • Use a manuscript.

Bonus Features

Jaclyn Marson describes the process of how she wrote her Graduation Speech.

Dunham, A. (2019). Valedictorian comes out as autistic during speech. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License

Holtz, L. (2017). Lou Holtz’s inspirational speech. Commencement speech.[Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License

Jobs, S. (2008). Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License.

Jostens, (n.d.).  Celebrate high school memories. Inspire your grad community.

Marson, J. (2020). How to write an amazing graduation speech–Jaclyn Marson podcast Ep 1. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License.

Marston, J. (2016). Beautiful and moving graduation speech 2016. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License.

Minchin, T. (2013). 9 life lessons-Time Minchin UWA Address. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License.

Rosen, L. (2019). Leah Rosen: “The power of this place,” Duke University 2019 commencement student speaker. Standard YouTube License.

Shutterfly. (n.d) How to start a graduation speech.

Stewart, M.  (2020). Student speaker. Commencement 2020. University of Utah. [Video] YouTube.   h ttps:// Standard YouTube License.

University of Pennsylvania. (2016). Penn’s 2016 commencement ceremony- Commencement speaker Lin-Manuel Miranda. [Video] YouTube. Standard YouTube License.

Media Attributions

  • Graduation Photo © Lynn Meade is licensed under a CC BY (Attribution) license

Advanced Public Speaking Copyright © 2021 by Lynn Meade is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How To Write a Graduation Speech With Example

Table of Contents

How to write a graduation speech .

Writing a graduation speech can be daunting. It’s natural to want to give the best speech possible to commemorate such an important milestone in your life. But How to write a graduation speech that is worthy of the day?

This page will be a comprehensive step-by-step guide for how to write a graduation speech that inspires and motivates. It will walk you through everything you need to know, how to write a graduation speech that leaves your audience teary-eyed. 

At the end of this page, I have written a sample graduation speech using this guide. 

I have spent days asking how to write the perfect graduation speech. I remember the banging of my head on my desk in frustration when I was preparing for my graduation speech. The reason for this paranoia was that I too, just like everyone else, wanted to give the best speech possible to commemorate such an important milestone of my life. 

The amount of time and energy I had spent in preparation for my graduation speech prompted me to put up this page. 

So here it is:

LET’S UNPACK with the No. 1 problem in How to write a graduation speech? 

The number 1 problem which everyone faces when setting out to write a graduation speech is where to start?

Well naturally before you start preparing your speech you will need to know what you want to talk about. You can call this a theme, a topic, an idea, or the subject of your speech. At this stage, it can be a one-liner or even a word that describes what you want to talk about. 

Again I know it is easier said than done. That’s why I have listed some approaches to help you figure out the topic of your graduation speech.

There are different approaches you can go by, but I will write a few which helped me.

How to find the subject of your graduation speech?

How to write a graduation speech around your core beliefs..

The first place I will recommend you to look for inspiration is your core beliefs. If you very strongly believe in something then talk about it. This could be what you stand for. Or what you will always stand for? Or what do you advocate? Maybe these beliefs are human rights protection, prevention of female objectification, and child labor, or maybe you believe in socialism or the importance of family structure.

The idea behind talking about your core beliefs is that you are genuinely passionate about them, and you will most likely have enough to talk about them. 

How to write a graduation speech based on Timeline.

I like to call this a timeline-based approach in deciding what to talk about during your graduation speech. Evident by the name you will pick up a moment or time and will talk about that time and how great or challenging that period was in your life. 

You can pick a period from your past to describe a challenge or a beauty of it and how it impacted your life and what lesson it has for others as well. 

You can pick a goal in the future which you want to accomplish and what motivates you in selecting this goal and how it will impact your life or people at large. 

To help you better understand, I have listed some examples. These examples sound generic but the actual events which happened to you will be unique for your audience. 

For the past based graduation speech, some ideas are: 

• A problem you faced to get to this position

• You had a certain difficulty, but you didn’t give up

• You faced trauma but still, you graduated or accomplished a goal.  

• What drove you, who motivated you, who built your passion, who never lost hope in you, who built your character and gave you confidence?

• What was your journey to get to this point?

• What took you to get here? 

• What were your expectations?

Remember: The purpose is not to tell your biography or how great you are. The purpose is to inspire with the underlying qualities which kept you going.

If you don’t want your speech to be sentimental you can always talk about:

• How fun your experience was

• How you will miss partying 

• How greatly have you lived your life here

• How amazing your friends, teachers, and institute were.

• How helpful everyone’s contribution was in your graduation. 

• You can go with funny events or can make very light fun at the expense of the audience. (Never insult.) 

• How has this time here changed you into a better person?

• How do you overcome your shortfalls

These are some past-based graduation theme approaches. Similarly, you can decide to talk about the future:

• Your goals

• Your optimism and how you plan to change the world.

• You always dream to follow your passion, and now you are one step closer

• You have an ideal personality who inspired you; now you can follow the lead.

• How you will miss this time, place, and people. 

• How you have learned to dream big and now explore

• No one is perfect, how you make mistakes, you will keep making mistakes, but this place taught you how to learn lessons from mistakes. 

• You look forward to stepping into the world.

• How guest of honor is your ideal and why do you appreciate them and want to follow the lead?

These are some of the examples I call a time-based approach in deciding how to write your graduation speech. 

Note: you don’t have to pick only one. You can relate a past event to achieve a future goal. 

How to write a graduation speech based on characteristics of value.

This one is simple really. When I was deciding how to write my graduation speech I came across this approach. In this approach of deciding your graduation speech theme, you can pick a characteristic and talk about it. In this case, you pick a characteristic value, and you start building your thoughts around it. 

• Value of Truth

• Importance of love

• Need of Courage

• Humbleness in sacrifice

• Lessons in failures

• Struggle for passion 

• Never giving up

How to write a graduation speech on the beauty of your passion. 

Here you find anything you are good at. It doesn’t have to be some sophisticated idea or any well-praised concept. It can be anything you are good at. 

It could be: 

• Any creative idea

• Participation in social causes

• Spirituality

• Gardening

Maybe you are passionate about gaming, or you have an interest in building stuff, or you like to experiment, or you have a sense of empathy and want to participate in social causes, or you have a knack for health and well-being. 

The point is it could be anything you like to do, which gives you happiness or a sense of fulfillment. You have to find out the good sides of this passion and talk about it. Link your source of happiness to real-world scenarios.

I mean there is a legendary speech about making a bed every day and how this one task is so great. 

How to write a graduation speech on delivering a point or argument.

The last approach I would recommend is delivering a point approach. Here you decide an end goal of your speech first then you build your argument around that goal. You have seen something wrong, or you would like some practice to change. Or in your view, a certain thing is not value-added but time-consuming or a method is not creative but laborious, and you would like it to change. 

You get the idea of what I am talking about. You may want to talk about human rights, and freedom of speech, you want to sound an alarm and talk about the environment, or you want to talk about any other modern-day problem. 

Here you have a point which you want to make. You will build your speech around that point. For example, you believe that home assignments are a waste of time. 

These are some approaches you can use to decide what you want to talk about. You can be creative and mix them or stick to one area. 

Now that you have your main idea, let’s start planning your graduation speech.

The planning stage of how to write a graduation speech.

Before you start writing your graduation speech there are some factors you need to know and understand when you are planning to write your graduation speech. We will figure those out during the planning process of the graduation speech together. 

Time and place

What time is your speech.

The first thing you need to know is which day, and where you will be delivering your speech. Usually the place of your graduation ceremony. It may be on campus grounds or in any other venue. 

But you need to know the time in a different context as well. 

Here you formally need to know at least three times for your graduation speech. Write that down for your reference. 

• First: Obviously what time is the speech?

• Second: how much time is allotted to your speech?

• Third: how much time do you have until your speech? 

How much time is allotted to you? 

You need to know how much time is allotted to your speech. You need to know that to prepare your speech. You need to know to create enough material to cover that time slot. Not too short, not too long.

My rule of thumb is at the planning stage when you are writing a rough draft for your speech your draft should have enough material to cover at least double the allotted time. You will need to consult with the organizers or graduation committee about how much time is allocated to you?  

How long should a graduation speech be?

Ideally, a graduation speech should be between 5 and 7 minutes long. That’s just enough time to deliver some inspiring words without dragging on (or putting your audience to sleep!).

Of course, each situation is different. If you’re the valedictorian or salutatorian, you may have a little more time to speak. And if you’re speaking at a smaller graduation ceremony, your speech may be shorter.

No matter how long your speech is, make sure you spend some time thinking about what you want to say. A well-written and well-delivered speech can be a memorable way to end your time as a student and start your new chapter as a graduate!

How much time do you have to prepare for your graduation speech?

The third and most important one is to know how much time you have for planning. You know this by allocating your time to your daily most important tasks. 

Know the Audience

This is tricky and an important factor to know before you write your graduation speech. Audiences come in all shapes and sizes. Know your audience before you start talking so that they feel welcome at the ceremony. You need to know who you will be addressing during your graduation speech. 

The common attendees are:

• Graduates

• Top students

• Faculty 

• And special guests

But keep in mind that among the audience all these people can also be 

• Media Personalities

• Influencers

• Potential employers

• Govt. officials

• Ethnic or minority groups

Beware of those who are attending, You don’t want to sound insensitive or hurt someone or a group of people’s feelings. For example, with a religious audience, you don’t want to talk against religion. Or might want to omit any jokes about physical features, or people with disability conditions if you have the same people in your audience. 

The second important thing to know about your audience is that you do not want to be specific to a small group of people. People of all ages and beliefs can be there, so avoid making specific cultural references to target only a small group of people. Instead, talk in broad general terms. 

There could be potential employers among the audience. You don’t want to sound cocky or to be remembered as arrogant. I mean it is entirely possible that a month later you are attending an interview and find out that the interviewer knows you already from your graduation speech with a bad impression. 

Tone when delivering your graduation speech.

This is important to know and decide. What will be your tone of speech? Do you want to sound formal or informal? Passive or assertive? Passionate or optimistic? Humorous or serious or do you want to keep it conservative or motivating? 

This might sound overwhelming but it is not. A lot of this has to do with the theme of the speech.  What I suggest is to choose according to your personality. Do you like to convey your message through humor or are you an optimistic person? But whatever you choose please keep it consistent. 

Having said that When practicing your graduation speech, it is a good suggestion to keep the tone upbeat. This is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates, so the speech should be motivating and inspirational. 

However, it is also important to be respectful and sincere. The graduation speech is an opportunity to thank the teachers, staff, and administrators who have helped the graduates along the way. It is also a chance to offer some advice and words of wisdom to the graduating class or future graduates. Whatever tone is used, it should be genuine and reflect the speaker’s excitement for the future of the graduates.

Avoid Cliches during your graduation speech

The Next thing in your planning stage is to avoid cliche. Everything has a place and time. Not everything should be said at all sittings. You might want to go political, or you might want to go activist. Even Though nothing is wrong with it, you don’t want your whole speech blaming others. 

Graduate students listening to a graduation speech

6 tips to write a great graduation speech (with examples) 

by Laura Jones

Published on November 24, 2022 / Updated on January 3, 2024

Being chosen to write a speech for a graduation ceremony is exciting, but also utterly terrifying, for many people. It’s not just your classmates in the audience, it’s parents and faculty too. And with some incredible student graduation speech examples out there (not to mention the perfection that was Steve Jobs’ speech ), there’s a lot to live up to. With that in mind, here are some tips and graduation speech examples to help you create the perfect commencement speech.

  • Pick a theme
  • Write an outline
  • Pen a catchy introduction
  • Write a thank-you paragraph
  • Look back and look ahead
  • End your graduation speech

Learn languages at your pace

1. pick a theme.

The overall goal of graduation speeches is to inspire and move your audience. But there are lots of ways to do this, and picking the right theme is a big part of it. Popular themes are the importance of friendship; perseverance and overcoming adversity; having big dreams and imagination; making a difference. Once you have your theme, it will be easier to choose anecdotes, quotations , and examples to put into your speech.

2. Write an outline

The next step for any commencement speech is to write an outline. Breaking it up into manageable parts not only makes it feel less overwhelming, but it helps to give your speech structure, making it easier for the audience to follow. A good speech will have the following: 

  • A catchy introduction
  • A look back
  • A look ahead
  • A pithy ending

3. Pen a catchy introduction

Begin by thanking everyone for attending and for choosing you to be their speaker. Then, grab your audience’s attention from the very start with a hook. Lots of people choose to begin with a quotation that captures the theme of the whole speech. 

Example: I want to begin with a quotation from Nora Ephron: “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” 

Other ways to hook your audience are by telling a short, personal story that your classmates can relate to, or by giving a statistic or question that fits with your theme. And never shy away from humor. A speech by James Glaser at Tufts University contained only questions , one being: “Would you believe that my 5’1” sister met her 5’4” husband in a short story class?” This would be a very funny way to begin a speech about meeting special people. 

4. Write a thank-you paragraph

Now your audience is paying attention, it’s time for gratitude. Thank your teachers and other staff at the school who have made a difference and tell an anecdote about someone to personalize this. 

Example: “I know I speak on behalf of all of my classmates when I thank the catering staff, who have made sure we fuel our brains with more than just fries and soda during exam times.”

Now’s the time to thank the families in the audience too. You can do a personal shout-out to your mom and dad, but be inclusive and remember that your classmates will have received support from a range of people. 

5. Look back and look ahead

The bulk of your speech will be spent talking about your time at the school and about how you see the future unfolding. Now is the time to focus on the theme that you chose, and to include stories about your shared experiences. 

If you chose to focus on overcoming adversity , recall a challenge you faced that you know a lot of other people did too. Share how a lesson you learned at school will help you after you leave, and remind everyone that you have learned much more than what was on the syllabus. 

Example: As Rita Moreno said, “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.” I know we’ve all changed so much already and we will continue to do so.

6. End your graduation speech

End with some advice and a call to action. Lots of people end with a quotation, and this can be from someone famous or from you. 


  • George Saunders said, “Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes…but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”
  • C.S. Lewis told us that “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” So let’s go find them.

Writing a great graduation speech

Beginning with a theme and an outline helps focus your speech, which should make it easier for you to write with clarity and to find the right stories and quotations to use. Telling personal stories that everyone can relate to, sprinkled with humor, is a wonderful way to keep people engaged throughout your speech. And, ending with a bang in the form of an amazing quotation will help inspire your audience and leave them feeling upbeat. 

how to give a graduation speech examples

Laura Jones

Laura is a freelance writer and was an ESL teacher for eight years. She was born in the UK and has lived in Australia and Poland, where she writes blogs for Lingoda about everything from grammar to dating English speakers. She’s definitely better at the first one. She loves travelling and that’s the other major topic that she writes on. Laura likes pilates and cycling, but when she’s feeling lazy she can be found curled up watching Netflix. She’s currently learning Polish, and her battle with that mystifying language has given her huge empathy for anyone struggling to learn English. Find out more about her work in her portfolio .

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Student Graduation Speech

Student Graduation Speech

A graduation ceremony marks a pivotal moment, offering a blend of joy, nostalgia, and anticipation for the future. Crafting a memorable student graduation speech can be challenging, but it’s an opportunity to inspire and reflect. This comprehensive guide provides detailed insights and practical tips to help you create an impactful address. Filled with inspiring speech examples , it’s tailored to guide you through the process of composing a speech that resonates with your audience and leaves a lasting impression. Whether you’re seeking to inspire, reminisce, or motivate, our guide, complete with speech examples, is your go-to resource for delivering a message that captures the essence of this significant milestone.

What is a Student Graduation Speech? A Student Graduation Speech is a special talk given by a student during a graduation ceremony. It’s a moment where the student shares their experiences, celebrates achievements, and gives thanks to teachers, family, and friends. The speech often includes memories from school, lessons learned, and hopes for the future. It’s a way for the student to say goodbye to one chapter of their life and welcome the next with excitement and optimism. This speech is a memorable part of the graduation ceremony, marking the end of school and the beginning of a new journey.

In addition to that, a student graduation speech is also a good way to show or to tell students that they have finally achieved what they wanted in life. Basically the purpose of a student graduation speech is to make sure that each student knows what their professors and other students feel during this time. Graduation speeches can sometimes get very emotional, depending on who may be presenting the speech and how it was delivered. Often than not, it is considered normal for a lot of people to be very emotional when presenting a student graduation speech. To know about how to write one, let’s move on to how to write a good student graduation speech.

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This is especially true for those who are graduating this year or for those who are going to be passing through and going forward. For students, this is the best day of their lives, the freedom, the path to choose what they can want and can get. However, when there is graduation, there is always that one thing students seem to not be able to escape. Making a graduation speech. Of course, a lot of students would say this is going to be easy now because of the practice they went through. But how do you make a good graduation speech? Where do you even begin? Am I confusing you? Don’t worry, I got you covered.

Student Graduation Speech Format


Greeting : Start with a warm welcome to guests, teachers, family, and fellow graduates. Personal Introduction : Briefly introduce yourself. Acknowledgment of the Occasion : Express the significance of the graduation day.
Reflections on the Journey : Share memorable experiences and lessons learned during school years. Memories : Highlight special moments and achievements. Challenges Overcome : Discuss obstacles faced and how they were overcome. Gratitude : Express thanks to teachers, family, and friends for their support. Current Feelings : Talk about emotions associated with graduating, like excitement, nostalgia, or anticipation for the future. Lessons Learned : Share valuable insights or life lessons gained during school years.

Future Outlook

Hopes and Dreams : Discuss aspirations and goals for the future. Call to Action : Encourage fellow graduates to pursue their dreams with determination and courage. Inspirational Message : Offer a motivational thought or quote to inspire the graduating class.
Closing Remarks : Summarize the key points of your speech. Final Thanks : Express gratitude to the audience for listening. Farewell Message : End with a heartfelt farewell, wishing everyone success in their future endeavors.

Best Graduation Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests, Teachers, Family, and my Fellow Graduates,   Today marks a pivotal moment in our lives. As I stand here, I am overwhelmed with memories and emotions. Our journey through these halls has been nothing short of remarkable.   Firstly, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our dedicated teachers and school staff. Your unwavering support and guidance have been our guiding star. To our families, your love and sacrifices have shaped us into the individuals we are today. Your belief in our dreams has been our strongest foundation.   Looking back, our school years were filled with learning, not just from textbooks, but from every experience. We learned the value of friendship, the importance of hard work, and the power of perseverance. We celebrated victories, learned from our failures, and grew stronger with each challenge.   But today is not just about reminiscing. It’s about embracing the future. As we step out into the world, let’s carry the lessons and memories with us. Let’s approach the future with courage and optimism, ready to make our mark and create positive change.   In closing, I leave you with this thought: Let’s not just dream about the future; let’s be the architects of it. As we go forth, may we always remember where we came from and who we are. To my fellow graduates, congratulations! Our adventure begins now.   Thank You.

Student Graduation Speech [Text Version]

Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed faculty members, distinguished guests, and beloved family and friends,   On this momentous occasion, I stand before you with a heart brimming with gratitude and excitement. As we gather here to celebrate our achievements, I am deeply humbled by the journey that has led us to this significant milestone.   Reflecting on our collective journey, it is undeniable that our relentless hard work, unwavering dedication, and steadfast perseverance have been the driving forces behind our success. Each step we’ve taken, every challenge we’ve faced, has molded us into the individuals we are today.   As we reminisce on the past years, let us cherish the memories we’ve created together. From late-night study sessions to unforgettable experiences shared, these moments have woven the fabric of our unique and remarkable journey as a graduating class.   Throughout our academic pursuits, we have not only gained knowledge but also nurtured personal and professional growth. The challenges we encountered along the way have been formidable, but through resilience and teamwork, we have emerged stronger and more determined than ever.   To our esteemed educators, mentors, and dedicated school staff, we owe a profound debt of gratitude. Your guidance, wisdom, and unwavering support have been instrumental in shaping our paths and fueling our aspirations.   To our cherished family members and friends, thank you for being our pillars of strength, unwavering sources of encouragement, and constant sources of love and support. Your belief in us has been our greatest motivation.   As we stand on the threshold of the future, let us embrace the infinite possibilities that lie ahead. Let us nurture our dreams, pursue our passions, and strive to make a positive impact on the world around us. Remember, learning is a lifelong journey, and our thirst for knowledge should never cease.   In the words of the great philosopher Aristotle, “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” Let us carry the lessons, memories, and friendships we’ve cultivated during our time here as we embark on the next chapter of our lives.   So, my fellow graduates, as we bid farewell to this chapter and step into the vast unknown, let us do so with courage, conviction, and unwavering determination. For the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.   Congratulations to the graduating class of [Year]! May our paths be filled with success, fulfillment, and endless possibilities. Thank you.

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How to Write a Student Graduation Speech?

Are you tasked to write a student graduation speech or are you simply curious as to how a student graduation speech looks and how it is written. Regardless of the reason, and if you are interested, here are some five simple tips to get you started on writing. How to write a student graduation speech?

1. Always Introduce Yourself to the Crowd

When you get up on that stage, thank the person who made the speech or who made the introduction first. Do this before reading your speech. It is seen as something polite and should be done. In addition to that, introduce yourself whether the person before you did or did not. Never assume that everyone in the crowd knows you. Remember, the people in the crowd are a mixture of students, your classmates, teachers, faculty and parents. There is only a few percent chance they can remember you or know you.

2. Share Your Experience in a Story

Another thing you can do when making a speech is to share your experience in the form of a story. Let your fellow graduates feel the same thing you felt or at least at some point. Tell your story so others could learn from your struggles and from the sweet rewards of graduating. Your experience may be different from others or may have at least a few things that are common, but your experience is there to awaken what it was like for students to struggle and feel the joy of a fruitful future. Think of how you would write your own  personal statement . But the difference is it is a speech than just a  short narrative essay .

3. Add an Inspiring Quote

One of the best ways to inspire and to get through your audience is to share an inspiring quote. Your quote must match that of your speech that you need not have to explain what it means. There are a lot of inspiring quotes, but you can also make your own.

4. Give Everyone Some Good Advice

Part of your speech should also be about giving people some good advice. Especially those students who may be graduating with you who are younger. Be the big person here and show them that with a lot of sacrifices, there will always be a rainbow after every thunderstorm. A brighter side of things. However, make it that they would find it good enough and not that they may get annoyed or disappointed. This means that when you say it, say it in a polite manner.

5. Thank Everyone for Attending the Event

Last but not the least, add graduation thank you speech to your graduation speech . Add this when you are about to end your speech. Showing that you appreciate the audience and the time they gave to attend the graduation. Saying this would mean that your speech is done and you would want everyone to be thankful for the people who came to the said event to watch.

How does a student start a graduation speech?

1.Express Gratitude:

Start by expressing gratitude to teachers, parents, mentors, and fellow students for their support and contributions throughout the academic journey. Thanking the audience creates a positive atmosphere from the beginning.

Example: “Good evening, honored guests, teachers, parents, and my amazing fellow graduates. I stand before you today with immense gratitude in my heart for the incredible support we’ve received on this journey.”

2. Use a Quote:

Begin with a relevant and inspiring quote that encapsulates the theme of the speech. Quotes can provide depth and immediately capture the audience’s attention.

Example: “As Nelson Mandela once said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ Today, we celebrate not just the end of our academic journey but the beginning of our mission to make a difference.”

3. Tell a Personal Story:

Share a brief, relatable personal anecdote that connects to the overarching message of the speech. Personal stories can create an emotional connection with the audience.

Example: “Allow me to take you back to the first day of school when we were wide-eyed freshmen, feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness. Little did we know that this place would become our second home, filled with laughter, challenges, and lifelong friendships.”

4. Ask a Rhetorical Question:

Pose a thought-provoking rhetorical question that engages the audience’s curiosity and encourages them to reflect on the journey ahead.

Example: “What does it truly mean to graduate? Is it merely receiving a diploma, or is it about the knowledge gained, the friendships formed, and the transformations within ourselves? Today, we contemplate not just our achievements but the infinite possibilities that lie before us.”

5. Use Humor:

Start with a light-hearted, witty remark or humorous anecdote related to the graduation experience. Humor can instantly capture the audience’s attention and create a warm atmosphere.

Example: “Ladies and gentlemen, if someone had told me four years ago that I would be standing here giving a speech, I would have thought they were joking. Yet, here I am, trying not to trip over my own excitement. Life truly is full of surprises!”

6. Acknowledge the Significance of the Moment:

Begin by acknowledging the importance of the graduation day, recognizing it as a pivotal moment in the students’ lives and the beginning of a new chapter.

Example: “Today is more than just a ceremony; it’s a milestone. It marks the culmination of years of hard work, late-night study sessions, and the unwavering determination that brought us to this moment. Today, we stand on the threshold of a future waiting to be shaped by our dreams and ambitions.”

What should I say in my high school graduation speech?

1. Introduction

Begin by expressing gratitude to the school, teachers, parents, and fellow students. Acknowledge the significance of the moment and the honor of addressing the graduating class.

2. Reflect on the Journey

Share personal reflections on your high school experience. Discuss memorable moments, challenges, and the growth you and your classmates have undergone.

3. Acknowledge Achievements

Recognize the accomplishments of your fellow graduates, including academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal growth.

4. Inspire and Encourage

Offer words of inspiration and encouragement to your peers as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Remind them of their potential and resilience.

5. Share Life Lessons

Reflect on the lessons learned during high school, both in and out of the classroom. Discuss how these lessons can be applied to the future.

6. Embrace Diversity:

Celebrate the diversity and unique qualities of your graduating class. Highlight the importance of inclusivity and understanding in a diverse world.

7. Discuss the Future:

Talk about the exciting possibilities and challenges that await graduates as they move on to college, careers, or other pursuits.

8. Express Hope and Optimism:

Convey optimism for the future, emphasizing the potential for positive change and personal growth. Inspire your peers to make a difference in the world.

9. Use Personal Anecdotes:

Share personal stories or anecdotes that connect with the audience and convey your messages effectively.

10. Conclude with Gratitude:

Thank your audience once again for the privilege of speaking and express your optimism about the future.

How do you write a short and sweet graduation speech?

  • Start with Gratitude: Begin by expressing gratitude to the school, teachers, parents, and fellow graduates for the support and experiences throughout the journey.
  • Acknowledge Achievements: Recognize the accomplishments and milestones of your graduating class, both academic and personal.
  • Reflect on the Journey: Share a brief reflection on your high school experience, mentioning memorable moments and challenges.
  • Inspire and Encourage: Offer a concise message of inspiration and encouragement for your peers as they step into the next chapter of their lives. Encourage them to pursue their dreams and make a positive impact.
  • Express Hope: Convey optimism and hope for the future, highlighting the potential for success and personal growth.
  • Use a Memorable Quote: Consider incorporating a well-chosen quote that encapsulates the theme of your speech.
  • Engage the Audience: Use eye contact, a confident tone, and gestures to engage the audience. Maintain a warm and inclusive atmosphere.
  • Stay True to Your Voice: Keep your speech authentic and true to your personality and values.

Here’s an example of a short and sweet graduation speech:

“Good evening, honored guests, teachers, parents, and my fellow graduates. As we stand here today on the brink of a new journey, I want to express my gratitude for the experiences and support we’ve shared throughout our high school years. Our achievements, both big and small, have brought us to this moment, and I couldn’t be prouder to call you my classmates. As we move forward, remember that every challenge we faced and overcame has shaped us into the individuals we are today. We are ready to embrace the future with open hearts and unwavering determination. As Dr. Seuss once said, ‘You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’

Is it necessary to make a graduation speech?

Some schools require their outstanding graduates to make a graduation speech, while others may not require them. The whole purpose of the speech is to let everyone know that they have done great and should continue to do great things.

What are the elements of a good graduation speech?

The introduction where you are going to be talking about the reason you are here. The body which will be about telling a story, an anecdote, sharing of experiences and hope for the future. It is also the part where you give way to inspire others to keep on pushing their dreams. The conclusion where you give thanks and congratulate on everyone for achieving.

What are the benefits of writing a graduation speech?

The benefits of writing a graduation speech is the opportunity to say thank you and welcome at the same time. To give everyone the opportunity to say we made it in one simple but grand speech. Making a graduation speech is the written and oral way of showing the world that you have made it and will continue to make it.

Why do we need a graduation speech example?

Sometimes, the process of making the perfect speech outline involves long nights and a lot of crumpled papers. We’re either experiencing major writer’s block or we’re just absolutely clueless on what to talk about. Regardless, writing a good speech is not an easy job. Sometimes, we just need a little guidance to get started. This is when references serve their purpose.

How long is a graduation speech?

A graduation speech does not have to be too long nor too short. A single page is enough to make a speech. If the speech is too long, your audience may fall asleep or choose to ignore as it may drag. But if the speech is too short, it may leave an awkward air around the whole event. Make sure that your speech should not last more than five minutes nor less than that.

Graduation speeches can either get very emotional or can be made as a polite way to say thank you. Depending on who writes it and how it is written. It is normal to cry when you’re doing your speech, but it is not okay to not make any eye contact.

Graduation speeches are more than just words; they are the encapsulation of an educational journey, filled with challenges, achievements, and invaluable lessons. They are a platform to inspire, encourage, and impart wisdom to fellow graduates and the audience. As you craft your speech, remember the impact of your words can extend beyond the ceremony, leaving a lasting impression on your listeners. To further explore inspiring examples and advice on crafting impactful graduation speeches, consider visiting the American Institute for Economic Research for a unique perspective on graduation speeches here and the University of Chicago for a collection of student graduation speeches here. These resources offer additional insights and inspiration that can enhance your speechwriting process.

how to give a graduation speech examples

Student Graduation Speech Generator

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Ideas for a student graduation speech on achieving dreams

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What should a student say in a graduation speech?

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.

how to give a graduation speech examples

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how to give a graduation speech examples

How to write a great graduation speech

how to give a graduation speech examples

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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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?

how to give a graduation speech examples

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

how to give a graduation speech examples

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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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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A-Z Guide on Writing a Breathtaking Graduation Speech

Hrideep barot.

  • Public Speaking , Speech Topics , Speech Writing

how to give a graduation speech examples

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.

Hrideep Barot

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High School Graduation Speech Samples

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Writing a speech for a high school graduation is a big responsibility, and the task can be a little intimidating. With a few tips and some sample graduation speeches to look at, you could quickly be on your way to writing a very engaging speech of your own.

Sample Speeches for High School Graduation

The following speeches are samples meant to help inspire your own creativity. You can click to download them and edit for your own use. If you like the style or sentiment of a particular speech, think of how it applies to your own high school experience, and use that as the basis for an original speech of your own. If you have any trouble downloading, please review the troubleshooting guide .

  • Graduation Mottos & Slogans to Celebrate Your Class
  • Graduation Announcement Wording Examples & Ideas

Sample One: How We'll Measure These Years

The first sample is a speech that talks about how things have changed over the high school years.

Sample Two: The Future Is in Our Hands

The second example focuses more on what the future holds for a high school graduate.

Sample Three: A Debt of Gratitude

The third sample is about giving thanks and recognizing those who have helped everyone successfully graduate from high school.

Sample Four: Inspirational Moments for Life

This last sample speech is an inspirational high school graduation speech that asks each student to look back on some of the moments from high school that will inspire them forever.

Example of a Humorous Valedictorian Speech

The following video offers a great example of a graduation speech that really speaks to the graduates while being humorous, appropriate and entertaining. If you have a natural gift for humor, a funny speech like this will be remembered long after other graduation memories have begun to fade.

Tips for Writing a Graduation Speech

Whether you're writing a speech for your homeschool graduation, as the class Valedictorian, or a graduation thank you speech , there are a few tips for speech writing that can make your talk meaningful and memorable.

Know Your Audience

Even though parents, faculty, and members of the community will be on hand, the focus of your speech should be your classmates. Speak to them!

Grab Their Attention

A good speech grabs the audience's attention and never lets that attention go. Start off with an attention grabbing question, or make a strong statement that provokes curiosity about where the speech is going. Don't be afraid to use humor in your speech. Having a theme for the speech is also helpful.

Tell Stories

Don't just read your speech. Tell your speech by interspersing emotional stories that tug at the heartstrings or inspire positive actions for the future. You might even want to include an original poem to help express your feelings.

Include Everyone

Don't just speak to the academic achievers, the sports stars, or the popular crowd. Your topic should be all inclusive of your graduating class.

Keep It Short, But Not Too Short

Knowing how long a high school graduation speech should be is important before you start writing. Student speeches at high school graduations are generally between five and 10 minutes long, but closer to five is ideal.

End With a Memorable Message

High school graduation speeches by students and special guests often end with a memorable, and actionable sentence that encourages the audience to do something great. It is customary to end by saying "Thank you" in your graduation speech , which you can do after your memorable one-liner.

Don't Wear Out Your Welcome

A really great commencement speech is enjoyed, not simply endured. Put some serious thought into your speech, say something meaningful, and stick to your topic so your message doesn't get lost. Above all, don't talk too long. Remember that everyone wants to receive their diplomas, shed those caps and gowns , and get on with the celebration.


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    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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    Conclusion. 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 ...

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    Thank the principal/dean for the invitation to speak. Next, thank the administration. Then, thank the faculty. Thank the parents and distinguished alumni. And, finally, thank the class of [year]. Many speakers will add in a little humor here by poking fun at the typical words used in this thanks.

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    Emphasize the importance of shared experiences and friendships. Looking Forward. Discuss hopes and dreams for the exciting possibilities ahead. Conclusion. Wrap up with a memorable and inspiring closing message. All these elements make a strong and memorable speech and help make your graduation successful.

  5. This writer analyzed 100 graduation 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.

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    College Graduation Speech Example: Conan O'Brien at Dartmouth College. ... This preschool graduation speech is a great example for teachers who need to give a commencement address. A speech for a preschool or kindergarten graduation is different, in that the speaker is mostly communicating to the parents of the graduates. ...

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    Tip #1: Read Inspirational Quotes. Reading inspirational quotes is a great way to start brainstorming graduation speech ideas. The best quotes can pack a whole speech into only a sentence or two. Here are a few examples to get the fire of inspiration started: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you ...

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    24 Graduation Speeches: Speeches You Give in Pointy Hats Lynn Meade . Graduation is a big day for graduates, their families, and teachers. If you are called to give a graduation speech, you want to make it special. I want to share with you what makes a good graduation speech and give you tips on how to write one that will make an impact.

  9. How To Write a Graduation Speech

    Step 4: Rehearse. Rehearse frequently and out loud so that you internalize your message. Understand why you are speaking the words you have chosen and repeat them in rehearsal until you feel the essence of your message in your gut. If you go blank during your speech, don't panic.

  10. From Start to Finish: A Comprehensive Guide On How To ...

    At the end of this page, I have written a sample graduation speech using this guide. I have spent days asking how to write the perfect graduation speech. I remember the banging of my head on my desk in frustration when I was preparing for my graduation speech. ... The fact is you are not the first person to give the graduation speech and most ...

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    Like any other speech, a commencement speech also includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. But the body should discuss the following: Past memories at school; The present (graduation ceremony) Future dreams and plans; How to Give a Good Commencement Speech. Here are some senior speech ideas and tips to prepare you for graduation. Pick a ...

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  13. Student Graduation Speech

    A Student Graduation Speech is a special talk given by a student during a graduation ceremony. It's a moment where the student shares their experiences, celebrates achievements, and gives thanks to teachers, family, and friends. The speech often includes memories from school, lessons learned, and hopes for the future.

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    If you've been chosen to deliver a graduation speech, follow these steps to ensure you write a speech that inspires your fellow graduates and audience.

  15. How to write a great graduation speech

    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).

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

    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 ...

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    Selecting the type of speech you want to prepare and give to the graduation audience is the first step. The next step is to select a theme that your speech will focus on. ... Students can also access our free and downloadable graduation speech examples to guide them in writing their speeches. Of course, you should also always remember to ...

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    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 ...

  19. 29 Best Graduation Speech Ideas & Examples ᐅ DocFormats

    Step 2: Pen Down a Structure. Next, determine the beginning, middle, and end of your speech. You want to start with an attention-grabbing introduction that will draw the audience's attention to you and keep the body entertaining enough to maintain their interest. You also want to wrap everything up in an unforgettable ending.

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    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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    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.

  22. High School Graduation Speech Samples

    Example of a Humorous Valedictorian Speech. The following video offers a great example of a graduation speech that really speaks to the graduates while being humorous, appropriate and entertaining. If you have a natural gift for humor, a funny speech like this will be remembered long after other graduation memories have begun to fade.