Salutatorian Speech Welcomes The Crowd

The salutatorian, the second-highest-ranking student in a graduating class, gives the welcome at graduation, while the highest-ranking student gives the speech at the close of the ceremony. Some salutatorians may deliver an invocation or benediction, present awards, and introduce the valedictorian.

At a graduation ceremony, the two top-ranking students give speeches during the ceremony. The second highest-ranking person, the salutatorian, welcomes the crowd of attendees, while the top-ranked, the valedictorian, gives the main speech. In the case of ties, there may be multiple people with titles, but there is usually only one set of speeches – the valedictorian speech and the salutatorian speech.

The “val” and “sal” should work in sync to deliver speeches that respect time-honored traditions with a personal twist.

What Is The Role Of Salutatorian?

Ranked second in the class, the salutatorian also receives very high honors and accolades on graduation day. The usual role of the salutatorian is to welcome family members, fellow graduates, faculty, and other guests to the ceremony. This graduation speech can also introduce the valedictorian if that is desired.

Salutatorian says "thanks" on behalf of the graduatew

What Is The Difference Between Salutatorian And Valedictorian Speech?

The salutatorian speaks on behalf of the graduating class and has the official capacity of welcoming the guests to the program. Another role of the salutatorian often is introducing other commencement speakers and any honored guests in attendance.

The valedictorian of the class speaks to their fellow classmates; while the sal may include a few more thoughts as well, it is the val’s speech that usually includes more substance.

Who Speaks First – Valedictorian Or Salutatorian?

The salutatorian speaks first on graduation day. Often, the salutatorian is giving a salutation, another term for a greeting. The salutatorian is traditionally tasked with giving a welcome speech to all assembled for the event.

The valedictory speech follows the salutatory speech. The valedictorian can come from several angles in writing their speech. They can reminisce about their school years together, give a motivational speech about all that lies ahead of them as they enter the first days of adulthood, thank those who helped the class get to where they are, or say goodbye to the class.

Since the valedictorian is the highest honor, the salutatorian should confer regarding the topics they plan to discuss in their speech. This will give you an idea of how to frame your speech.

Salutatorian & Valedictorian - 1st & 2d speakers

Why Is The Salutatorian Speech Important?

The salutatorian speech is important for many reasons. The first thing to realize is that as the salutatorian, your school is honoring you for your years of hard work by asking you to speak at the ceremony. This is a big deal!

Also, remember that giving the welcome and thanking those in attendance is a very important job as it sets the tone for the entire ceremony.

What Are Some Common Topics For A Salutatorian Speech?

Looking for salutatorian speech ideas?

  • Welcome: Some salutatorians are told to welcome everyone to graduation, as they will be the first speaker. Starting a speech with “Good evening” or “Good afternoon” is a simple but effective way to begin.
  • Thanks: It is also common for the salutatorian to give a sincere thank you to everyone in attendance. Whether it is a college, high school, or middle school graduation, staff members, friends, and loved ones have all contributed to the graduates getting to this moment. Offering thanks on behalf of the class is appropriate.
  • Impart Wisdom or Advice: One part of giving an inspirational speech often includes giving some advice. Many great speeches use quotes to get the point across to the audience, then expound upon that to further explain. However, the speech should be primarily your thoughts and words. Always avoid speaking in clich├ęs and don’t use too many quotes. 
Salutatorian speech looks to the future

How Do You Write A Salutatorian’s Speech?

  • Ask About Time Limits: The most important thing to do before writing your speech is ask your faculty advisor some important questions. You need to know how long you are expected to speak. If you are told 3-5 minutes, figure 5 as a time limit you should not go over.
  • Inquire About Content Expectations: Also, make sure you know if something, in particular, is expected of you. Do they want you to give a welcome? Should you thank guests on behalf of the class? Can you add additional memories from the class or inspiration for the future? Sometimes the val and sal are given specific tasks to work into their speech.
  • Speak to Valedictorian: Ask the valedictorian who will give the main student speech what they plan to include to help you get focus on which direction you want to go and void repetition.
  • Brainstorm: Once you know what is expected of you, it is time to start brainstorming ideas. Jot down notes and figure out a few things you could write about that you can tie together to keep your audience’s attention.
  • Create an Outline: After the brainstorming session, make yourself an outline, including how you plan to bring it all together.
  • Write: Now, it is time to start writing. Once you are done, an essential step in public speaking is to read it out loud and time yourself. Does your speech seem to fall into the time requirement? A 650-word speech would take the average speaker about five minutes to deliver.
  • Practice: When you start practicing your speech, consider asking someone you trust to listen with a critical ear to help you. Share the goals given to you by the faculty advisor and ask for constructive criticism to ensure you achieve your objective.

How Long Should A High School Salutatorian Speech Be?

The salutatorian speech is usually five to eight minutes long, with a 10-minute maximum.

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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