“Don’t be boring,” I said to the two young women who, as valedictorian and salutatorian, would be speaking at their high school graduation in early June. Their school had hired me to help them craft and deliver speeches on one of the most memorable of days in a young person’s life. Unfortunately, hardly anyone remembers graduation speeches, except that they are usually too long or too boring.
Most of the tips I gave them could apply to almost any presentation.
11 Tips for Your Graduation Speech
1. Don’t be boring
Boring concepts (unless you can offer specific examples):
“We’ve come so far . . .
“We’ve had good times and bad times, but made it through together . . .”
“Our time here has prepared us to face our futures . . .”
Boring quotes: Quotes can be boring, especially if not relevant to your point
2. Consider your audience: Fellow graduates, other students, parents/families of other students, your own parents/family, teachers and staff. But, speak mostly to your fellow students!
3. Have a theme. Be able to state your main point in one sentence.
4. Be specific. Tell stories, give examples. A little humor helps as you walk down memory lane.
5. Remember it’s not all about you, but do let the audience get to know you and your personality.
6. Thank people (recognize parents, teachers, friends). Consider thanking a specific person who made a difference. Keep it short. Involve the audience by asking them to think about whom they have to thank.
7. Don’t say anything you will regret!
8. End with the most important thought—if they remember nothing else, they should remember this. It should be encouraging.
9. Never speak longer than your allotted time.
10. Smile. Have fun. Don’t be too serious.
11. Practice. Practice. Practice. Don’t memorize. Internalize.
Do you have any to add? Or, maybe you want to share this post before you have to sit through another graduation.