Graduation Speech Template

Graduation speech template - writing a great speech

Graduating speeches usually are given by a graduating student, faculty member, or outside speaker. The purpose is to celebrate the graduates’ accomplishments, offer advice, and look to the future. Most speakers follow a standard graduation speech template.

Graduation speeches vary, but they all have the same message hidden beneath the packaging. Most rely on a graduation speech template. Whether the speech was given by Michelle Obama, Steve Jobs, or a fellow student, the speech has the three standard speech parts and sentiment to encourage the graduates.

On commencement day, you might hear different types of speeches that serve a variety of purposes. Whether you are looking for graduation speech ideas or are just interested in learning more about what they might encompass, we have help for you.

What Is A Graduation Speech?

A graduation or commencement speech is given on someone’s graduation day or at a graduation celebration. Are you wondering who are the people who most frequently speak at graduation ceremonies?

Who Usually Gives Speeches At High School Graduations and How Are They Different?

  • Faculty Member: Sometimes, a school administrator or faculty member will give a commencement speech. This person may welcome the guests as well as introduce the next speaker.
  • Salutatorian: The person who graduates second in a graduating class will usually speak by giving the salutatorian speech as they “give the salutation.” The salutatorian typically speaks on behalf of the graduating class welcoming friends and family and expressing gratitude to everyone who has helped get the graduating class to where they are today.
  • Valedictorian: In the valedictorian speech, the highest-rank student in the class will most often address their fellow students. They talk about the school years and what lies ahead in the future or offer an inspirational speech. This could be done with moving stories, reminiscing, or other ways.
  • Keynote Speaker: Sometimes, the valedictorian serves as the main speaker; other times, someone will invite a special speaker to address the graduating class. A keynote speaker usually gives an inspiring or motivational speech. Throughout the speech, the person might talk about life lessons, use motivational quotes, and even draw from their own experiences to bring the story to life.
Speech by Chase Dahl at the Weber High School graduation for the Class of 2015

What Is A Good Graduation Speech Template?

When speech writing, it is essential to remember that it is always important to have three specific parts to your graduation speech outline: an introduction, the body of the speech, and a conclusion. While there are some conventions to follow regarding that structure, the actual content can be flexible. 


As with any good speech, the introduction is critical. This is your opportunity to welcome the attendees, introduce yourself, and determine your hook to get the audience’s attention.


The body is the meat and potatoes of your speech. Once you determine your primary focus, you can start to flesh things out. Speech topics vary depending on the individual speaking, the tone one is looking for, and the intent of the speech.


As with any public speaking, you will want to wrap things up. This is your opportunity to either reiterate what you have said, pull your points together into one main idea, share a quote, or end the speech somehow.

What Do You Say In A Graduation Speech?

  • Achievement: An introduction speech may set the stage for other speakers. Discussing the academic achievements of a salutatorian or valedictorian as part of their introduction is one way to introduce the speakers.
  • Call to Action: One fun tactic is to give a speech rousing your fellow graduates to feel compelled to act positively.
  • Discuss Work Ethic: Acknowledging that hard work was necessary to earn a degree is often done in a high school or college graduation speech.
  • Inspiration or Motivation: Adding inspirational quotes or having a motivational keynote speaker is another option for a graduation speech. Knowing that the graduating class is about to forge their way into the world makes this an appropriate topic.
  • Memories: Remembering that this is not “all about you,” a graduation speaker might reminisce about the school experience this graduating class has had together. More conducive to a high school speech where everyone is more likely to have had common experiences, it could also bring up state, country, or world events that have shaped the individuals.
Graduation speech template - inpsor, motivate, and call grads to action

What Do I Say To Start A Graduation Speech?

The introduction of a speech should include a greeting. One might say, “Friends, family members, esteemed faculty, and fellow graduates, welcome.”

If the speaker is not a graduate, they might start by welcoming people instead. “It is my distinct pleasure to invite all our guests here to the 2023 (school) commencement ceremony.”

What Can You Do To Improve Your Graduation Speech?

When tasked with giving a speech, there are things to do to help set yourself up for success.

  • Ask Questions: Once you are asked to speak at a commencement ceremony, it is appropriate to find out the order of speakers, what is expected for the content of each speaker, and the allotted time. Be sure your speech fits these parameters.
  • Planning: Give yourself time to brainstorm, think about what you want to say, and create a speech outline.
  •  Writing: Now you are ready to put pen to paper (or your hands on the keyboard) and start writing.
  • Speech Practice: Remember to practice. To ensure you keep eye contact and do not read directly off a piece of paper, you should consider writing your key points onto notecards or using some other tactic. Look at your notes periodically. Practice in front of a mirror, a video camera, or a live audience.
Graduation speech template ensures a meaningful speech

What Is An Example Of A Short Graduation Speech?

Friends, family members, esteemed faculty, and fellow graduates, I am thrilled and honored to have been allowed to speak on this important day. My first task is to thank everyone who has supported the members of this graduating class in some way. We would not be here without you.

We were fortunate enough to make many beautiful memories together, both good and bad. The fact is that we are all the people we are because of these experiences. Graduates, close your eyes and think back to your favorite memory from high school. Do you have one in your mind? How many people here are part of that memory? I encourage you to share that memory with someone in the next few days.

As we venture out into the world, each of us will pursue a different love, passion, and path, all unique. We are all talented and intelligent in our own ways. I urge all of you to use those talents to help you reach your dreams. Alan Alda once said, “Don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Laugh at yourself, but don’t doubt yourself.”

Friends, I wish you the best of luck in your upcoming adventures. We finally made it! Thank you.”

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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