Graduation Speech Examples

Graduation speech examples

Graduation speeches may be part of the graduation program, but more speeches will come at parties after the ceremony. These events are usually held at a person’s home or maybe at a party center, where they might include a toast. Here are some graduation speech examples.

Going to a graduation? Whether you are graduating, have a ticket for the ceremony, or come to the home or party center for an event after the commencement, you will hear or maybe even give speeches.

During the actual commencement ceremony, one will typically hear a valedictorian speech, a salutatorian speech, and sometimes a keynote speaker who is an honored guest. Outside of the ceremony, speeches are sometimes made at graduation parties as well as informal celebrations.

What Do You Say In A Graduation Speech?

Deciding what to say in a graduation speech depends greatly on the circumstances. Are you speaking as part of a graduation ceremony? As a person invited to give a commencement speech, there are typically parameters set for you.

A speech given at a high school graduation would vary from one given at a college graduation. Since a high school graduating class is likely to be more tight-knit than that at a college, high school commencement addresses are usually personalized and include stories that many of the graduates can relate to. Especially in smaller communities, school experiences are more likely to be shared, and a speaker can weave stories together to paint a picture of the school years of the graduating class.

Graduation ceremony as students get diplomas

On the other hand, a college graduation speech is likely to be more broad. One might talk about life lessons, the next chapter of life, or be inspiring. Using inspirational quotes to set a tone is a tactic often used in speeches.

The speech will take on a different tone for a graduate at their graduation party, saying a few words of thanks to parents, friends, or anyone who has supported them. Lastly, a loved one might offer a toast at a celebratory meal, yet another type of graduation speech.

What Should You Do Before Giving A Graduation Speech?

The first thing to do is determine the type of speech you are meant to give. When speaking at commencement, there is often a predetermined plan for what each speaker will discuss. At a high school commencement, one speaker will usually reminisce while a second speaker will talk about the possibilities of the future.

As you plan out your speech, you should have a brainstorming session. Ask yourself what stories would be most appropriate to share. Is your plan to give an inspirational speech? There are many great quotes and stories out there that will have the audience feeling inspired.

If you have been asked to give a high school or college graduation speech, you may have been selected based on your experience or your positions on certain topics. However, you have latitude on the speech topic and how you present it. J.K Rowlings was expected to give a speech on her own successes but instead gave one called “The Fringe Benefits of Failure and The Importance of Imagination” at Harvard. The detour pleased most listeners, but the example shows how picking your own topic can be risky and controversial.

JK Rowling gave a great graduation speech example at Harvard in 2008

How Do I Start A Graduation Speech?

Sometimes people need help with getting started with a speech. You will want to know if someone is introducing you or if you should plan a self-introduction in your speech. It is appropriate to state that you are grateful for the opportunity to be one of the commencement speakers.

Greeting the audience is also essential. Examples of an opening statement for a graduation speech are:

  • “Esteemed faculty members, fellow graduates, family, friends, and other guests, I am honored to be here today.”
  • “Good afternoon, friends, family members, faculty members, and fellow students. We are finally here on that big day we have spent so much time preparing for as all our hard work pays off.”
  • “Graduates, faculty members, family, friends, and honored guests, we are here to commemorate the graduation of the class of (year). Grads, can you practically see the rest of your life mapped out before you?”

What if the speech is not done as part of a commencement ceremony, such as addressing guests at a dinner or party?

  • “Thank you to everyone who came here today to help celebrate my graduation. I am honored that you could all be here today to share in my joy, and I would be remiss if I did not thank my family for supporting me through my college journey.”

How Is A Graduation Speech Organized?

Are you looking for a graduation speech template? Remember that speech writing is much like other forms of writing, and you need to have an introduction, body, and conclusion. The opening may involve you introducing yourself to the attendees. If someone is introducing you, you can jump right into your speech.

Any good speech has a general theme running through it. In a high school commencement, you might discuss events and milestones the class has gone through together. There are also popular speech topics of interest. Some sample topics for a graduation speech include:

  • Changing the world
  • Following your dreams
  • Gratitude
  • Remember where you came from
  • Setting and reaching goals
  • Staying true to your convictions
  • Struggle helps us grow.
  • Trust in yourself
  • Why you should always be yourself
  • You can always come home again

What Are Some Good Graduation Speech Examples?

Many speakers picked common graduation theme and turned them into memorable speeches.

Some of the best speeches comes from students

Hilton Head Island High School Class of 2017 Valedictorian
Phillip Evans rips up speech and speaks from the heart.

What Is An Example Of A Short Graduation Statement?

You do not need to say much when making a short statement at your graduation celebration. Thank the person or people who helped you earn the degree. You may acknowledge the university you attended and the degree you earned. Give some type of statement about what your next steps are and then thank guests for coming.

An example:

“Thank you to everyone for coming to celebrate with me today. I did not earn this degree alone. I needed the help and support of my parents to help make this dream a reality. I am very excited to start the next stage of my life as I work for the company I had the opportunity to intern with last summer. To hard work paying off!”

What Are Examples Of A Graduation Toast?

A graduation toast can be pretty simple. Just a sentence or two will do it.

  • “Can everyone please raise a glass to the graduate? To (name). Your hard work has paid off. Keep reaching for the stars.”
  • “(Name), we are all so proud of how hard you worked to earn this degree. None of us doubted for a second that you would get here. Now for the next adventure. Everyone raise a glass for the graduate.” 

Pam Berg

A former English teacher and currently an elementary principal in a rural school, Pam has honed her speaking skills in the classroom and before professional groups. Pam enjoys sharing her insights about public speaking almost as much as she enjoys running, which she does daily.

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