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The complete guide to writing a college graduation speech

College graduation speech

Did you know that more than 75% of people in the United States have some level of fear about speaking in public? Giving speeches can make people feel overwhelmed because you are putting yourself in a vulnerable position. If you have been honored with the opportunity to share a speech with your graduating class, there are many tips to help pull you through. Continue reading to discover the best tips for writing a college graduation speech that will inspire everyone!

Believe in yourself

The most important step to writing and giving a college graduation speech is to believe in yourself. The more that you encourage yourself that you can do this, the easier it will be when the time comes.

Many people focus on their fears when creating a graduation speech outline, and these fears tend to take over when they go to deliver their message. The more positive you are from the beginning, the easier it will be to trust in yourself.

If you have been honored to give a speech, remind yourself that someone saw something in you to show that you can do this successfully. Try switching fearful thoughts with positive attributes about yourself to prepare for the big day.

Did you know that around 85% of people have self-esteem issues? You are not alone in fearing public speaking and believing in yourself. The best way to combat this, however, is by confronting it!

Think of the message behind your college graduation speech

There are many graduation speech themes that you can follow, but it is best to start with the message that you want to portray. Before you sit down to write your speech, take time to consider the goal or intentions of your speech. Are you wanting to bring awareness to an important topic? Are you hoping to give a lighthearted speech that celebrates accomplishments?

Knowing the message that you are trying to send will help guide your speech because you can tie everything together. When it comes to making an impact on an audience, you need to have a direction to follow. Think about your passions and motivation for writing the speech.

The message of your speech should relate to your overall goal. You must understand why you are writing the speech to deliver it naturally and passionately.

Use specific examples

When a graduation ceremony speech is too vague, you can lose the interest of your audience. Vague speeches without specific examples can seem ingenuine and difficult to relate to.

If you have memories of football games, going to the library, or eating at the cafe, include them in the speech. The more specific that you are, the more that other students will be able to compare their experiences with yours.

By viewing valedictorian speeches examples you can discover how to incorporate experiences. Make sure that your examples are general enough for people to understand. But they should also be specific enough to bring up memories that each student gained during their education.

Show your sense of humor

Including humor in speeches is a great way to interact with your audience and attract their interest. Including jokes in your speech and showing a sense of humor will make it easier for those in the audience to relate to you.

Some people pack their speeches with jokes to keep the crowd laughing but this is not likely the best approach. Do your best to naturally fit in jokes where they support your ideas and beliefs.

It’s a good idea to avoid jokes that could be controversial too, as you don’t want to wind up on Youtube or the local news. Keep your jokes light and relatable, otherwise they will be a flop. When people include humor naturally, the crowd doesn’t feel forced to laugh and you will avoid awkward silence.

Although including humor in your presentation can be a good thing, don’t forget that a commencement ceremony is a big moment in many people’s lives. So, use it sparingly and appropriately.

Be short and sweet with your college graduation speech

Most professionals recommend that a speech be between 5 and 10 minutes for commencement ceremonies. When speeches are longer than 10 minutes, students, faculty, and parents can lose interest.

This is the case in even the most engaging and entertaining speeches. By giving yourself a 10-minute window, you will have plenty of time to go over the message and share experiences with your classmates.

Having a speech that is under the 5-minute mark, however, might make your speech forgettable and not as impressive. It can be difficult to find the sweet spot for the length of time but don’t get discouraged. It is best to write a speech that is originally too long so that you can edit information out as you go.

Once you feel that you have included everything you want in the speech, time yourself while presenting it. Try to practice your speech just like you would present it on stage.

Practice your college graduation speech

Everyone has heard the saying that practice makes perfect. Although you shouldn’t put yourself to a standard of perfection, you should still practice your speech. Practicing ahead of time will make delivery easier to accomplish when the time comes. It is okay if you don’t follow your speech word for word while on stage.

Preparation should be natural and practiced so much that if you miss a section, you can easily include it somewhere else in your message. Many people recommend practicing your speech in front of a mirror or with a person that you trust so that you become more comfortable with it.

Do your best to stay within your time constraints while practicing and make edits along the way. As you practice, you might discover that certain pieces are meshing well together or need to be eliminated. Without practice, it will be difficult to catch these details.

Thank the previous speaker

At the beginning of your speech, take the time to acknowledge the previous speaker. Thanking the previous person and mentioning their speech makes you look more humble and respectful. It is also a great transition into your speech and helps people prepare to listen to something new.

You don’t need to take a long time thanking the previous speaker, but you must not forget to do so. During this time, you can also thank the educational faculty who have helped pull the ceremony together to give your class a celebration.

Giving acknowledgment to everyone involved will attract their attention and make them feel heard. If you want the same respect after you have given your speech, it is important to start on the right foot.

Introduce yourself

After you have thanked the faculty and the previous speaker, you can turn the conversation to your speech.

Start by providing an introduction to yourself. This part does not need to be very long, but it is a necessity. Given how large some graduation classes are today, some people don’t know each other. Giving your audience the chance to know who you are will make them more interested in your story.

During the introduction, include information like your name and the program you are graduating from. Sharing your major and type of degree can help bring attention to a specific college or area of study. You can also include a fun fact about yourself to capture attention.

Relate to other students

Students love to be acknowledged during ceremony speeches because this event is a celebration for everyone. Do your best to relate to people in the audience by talking about endless hours of studying, running late for classes, and other common things. This will make them more engaged while listening, as they will try to identify things that they have also experienced.

Your experiences ought to be genuine and honest. Don’t try to pack your speech with too many things that are vague and heard in generic speeches, as these examples won’t take you very far. If you aren’t sure about what to talk about, ask your friends and classmates about their encounters. Getting examples from other people might bring back memories of important moments that happened to you at college.

Select your favorite quotes

Although you shouldn’t rely on quotes and sayings to get through your speech, it is a good ice breaker. Many people recommend including a motivational quote at the beginning or end of the speech.

Make sure that whatever quote you decide to use correlates with the message you are sharing with the audience. Try to avoid quotes that are irrelevant or commonly used for speeches, as they can come off as ingenuine.

Some people find inspiration from their favorite TV shows and movies that many people have seen. This is a great way to build connections with the audience and lighten the mood. Depending on your preference, you can use funny quotes or ones that will resonate with people for a lifetime.

It is usually best to limit yourself to two or three quotes in your speech. Otherwise, your message could get muddled in other people’s words.

Don’t worry about perfection

One of the biggest reasons that people get overwhelmed and mess up during the delivery of speeches is that they want to be perfect. These people often try to read word for word in their speech and have difficulty making connections with the audience.

Instead of holding yourself to an unrealistic standard, accept the fact that you might make mistakes. Taking your mistakes in stride and acknowledging them shows that you are a humble person.

People have a difficult time relating to others that make themselves appear perfect, so don’t stress over the small details. As long as you have practiced your speech and believe in yourself, there is nothing to worry about on the big day.

Give yourself time to write

If you want to write a good graduation speech, you must give yourself enough time to do so. Waiting until the last minute to write your speech could impact your delivery and overwhelm you right before going on stage. Once you find out that you will be sharing a speech, set aside time each day to think about ideas and write them on paper.

As you get closer to graduation, you can make your speech draft and still have time to make edits. Practicing your speech in front of others ahead of time is the best way to catch errors and figure out how you want to format information and stories.

Connect the dots

A common mistake that people make when giving a speech is not connecting the dots. In other words, when writing the speech, ensure that your stories, message, and quotes align with each other. When the dots don’t connect, the audience can easily become confused and miss the entire point of what you were trying to say.

It might help to draw a spider map of your ideas that you brainstorm. This will be a great visual representation that will go back to your message. If you find information that seems random in your speech, set it aside to see if there is a better place to share it or leave it out completely.

Rock your college graduation speech

When it comes to writing a college graduation speech, you might feel a lot of pressure to do well. Having confidence in yourself is the most important thing because it will help get you through your message and inspire others.

Although people like to say that practice makes perfect, don’t get caught up in minor mistakes that you might make during the presentation. By giving yourself enough time to write the speech, get feedback, and make edits, you will likely feel confident in your message.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality and sense of humor while saying your speech. This often gets the crowd listening and makes your speech memorable compared to the rest of the speakers. At the end of the speech, tie everything together and make sure that you don’t drag on for too long.

Writing a motivational speech can seem overwhelming but with these tips, you can make the job feel natural and effortless. Cheers to an amazing speech!

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