2) After introductory words, begin to recall traditions, the graduating class's accomplishments or noteworthy events that occurred during the time of the outgoing class. If you are a guest speaker, you can talk in general terms about traditions and noteworthy events from society.
If you are one of the graduates, you could mention school wide accomplishments or happenings that graduating students shared, say, a state championship or the blizzard that shut down class, necessitating summer make-up days. The point is to unify the audience, emphasizing their group identity.
Talking about past notable events and achievements will also begin to create a feeling of journey so that when you shift the speech's focus to the future, you will impart the sense that you are seeing the audience off on a voyage to a brighter day.
3) Proffer inspiring advice. If you are a special guest speaker, say a business or political leader, it may be that the attendees are hoping you will share your own secrets to success and hard-won lessons.
A graduation speech is exactly that: a speech given at a graduation ceremony. Your audience is the graduating class, fellow classmates, their friends, families and faculty.
Though likely a diverse bunch, the audience is united by the day's focus, dreams of future opportunities, and an awareness that seizing opportunities means leaving the past behind. In short, it is a bittersweet time, and graduation speech writing strives to capture that. As well, the speech must congratulate the new graduates and inspire them.
Pointers for Graduation Speech Writing
1) Congratulations should come at the top. At the end should comes parting words that leave listeners feeling eager to get on with the next chapter of their lives, even if it's sad to leave the past behind. In a graduation speech, the climax of the message comes at the very end.
By all means, share them, making them relevant to the new graduates. If you are a peer speaker, perhaps class president or valedictorian, you should look to illustrious people for inspiring words and ideas you can share.
Read collections of quotes or books written by people of character for an inspiring idea you can use as a theme to build the speech around. For instance, if you have found a motivating quotation on overcoming obstacles, you tell a story about overcoming challenges and not taking no for an answer where dreams are concerned, using the quote as a summation.
4) Humor is always welcome in a speech. Indeed, a speech that includes both tears and laughter - appropriate for the bittersweet nature of graduation speech writing - provides a well-rounded and satisfying experience. Don't forget, though, that meaningful trumps humor. Also remember that clichés and platitudes are stale and, therefore, not meaningful. In graduation speech writing, you must be brave enough to write a heartfelt speech and then speak it from the heart.
In total, graduation speech writing should seek to emphasize the importance of the commencement exercise as a door the graduate is walking through on the way to a new life. Your speech will succeed if it touches on the past, present and the future by making note of shared history; if it uses the moment for congratulations and reflection; and if it sends graduates off to new opportunities with hope and inspiration.
When you look over the speech you've written, check to make sure it's positive, motivational and meaningful. Remember, too, that the commencement exercise and graduation speech are the last experiences graduating students will have at the school. Make it count.