The simple definition of a commencement speech explains that "it is a speech given by a student or a guest speaker. It is given at the graduating ceremony for all the students graduating in that particular year". And although it is simple, understanding the in-depth meaning and purpose of a commencement speech reveals that it is the mark of respect for all the experiences, accomplishments of the learning years, and an inspiration for investing the hard work of these years, for success in the future. Giving a good speech is tough. The speech has to struggle through the high spirits of students all set in the mood for graduating, throwing mortar boards in the air, and hitting the party floors. Moreover, though this speech is for the graduating students, it is going to have a wide platform of listeners, school authorities, parents, and special guests. If you have the honor of being the valedictorian, then you may be busy struggling to come up with a commencement speech that makes the event memorable.
The key motive is to deliver the message in a short period of time, whilst also engaging the audience. A rule of thumb when preparing for such a speech is to never fill it with clichés. Some ideas for the same are given below.
- 'Brevity is the soul of wit'. Keep the speech short and simple.
- Motivate and give advice, but make sure not to overdo it.
- Mention achievements, honor the successes, and address the failures with humor.
- Make the opening of the speech interesting and impressive. Also convey your feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.
- Include talking about everyone, like the band geeks, the jocks, etc.
- Do not criticize or talk bad about anyone. Also, use humor that is not cheesy.
- Do not talk a lot about yourself, a little is fine. Make sure you are appropriate in content and speech.
- Lastly, conclude on a good note with a positive line or an impressive and memorable quote.
Speech Topic Ideas
- Finding a Job: This is probably the most interesting topic you can choose, as you will be addressing a major worry in most of the students' minds.
- Topics on Choice: Talk on questions like how you plan to spend your life ahead from here, and similar things. Though this may sound very simple, the answers you can include in this topic will charm the audience.
- Colleagues and Friends: This may be a typical and teary topic, but it is surely interesting. Talk about investing these years in friendship. A good speech on friendship is surely worthy of consideration for any graduation day ceremony.
- Stories and Poems: The entire audience has not been a part of your graduating class. Engage the audience with some stories and memories of the students, about the school staff, and even the other authorities. Including some graduating poems is also a good graduation speech idea. Make sure you conclude the story or poem with a lesson learned or a message that is inspiring.
- Commencement Quotations: A speech made with amazing graduation quotations is truly inspirational. You can choose from a lot of interesting and famous graduation quotes.
- Remembering names at the reunion after many years: This can go handy with a friendship speech. Also, being a light and interactive topic, it will keep your audience engaged.
- Learning Journey: It can include your learning process throughout the graduating years and also how you would still keep learning after graduation throughout life.
- Time and Importance: Stage a certain amount of minutes in front of the audience, talk about the significance of those minutes, what all can be done in that time, and how would you spend it most qualitatively.
- Bold and Brave: There are some things that you would rather not discuss at commencement, but if you are the bold and outgoing type, then you can include discussions, like, can you sacrifice your family for your career? For the 'summa cum laude' students, are they ready to part with receiving hard-earned grades and praises from the parents and teachers, and so on.
- Activities, Events, and Experiences: Sharing experiences of the student body as a whole will be a refresher to the audience. Sharing the joy of events like stage plays, charity events, etc., talking about the achievements of your college, will only elevate the pride of graduating.
End the commencement speech with gratitude and with a smiling and inspired audience. Some good speech ideas will calm the nerves and build confidence in all those who have to prepare for the most awaited speech of the last and the most memorable day, with the first pinnacle of education achieved.