Elements of a successful graduation speech
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Elements of a Successful Graduation Speech. Writing. Theme Brevity Specificity Scope/Audience Analysis Bookends. Theme. Your speech should have a comprehensive theme What is theme? Sample themes? Adversity? Friendship? Compassion? Grit? Creativity? Fun?

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  • Theme

  • Brevity

  • Specificity

  • Scope/Audience Analysis

  • Bookends


  • Your speech should have a comprehensive theme

  • What is theme?

  • Sample themes?

    • Adversity? Friendship? Compassion? Grit? Creativity? Fun?

  • Your speech should consistently explain, enhance, deepen, its theme

  • High school, graduation, moving on, the future, etc, are NOT themes, they are topics

  • Express/develop theme THROUGH topic


  • Its hot, humid, sunny, and the seats/bleachers are really uncomfortable

    • Parents and grandparents want to see their kids, kids want to get out of there, etc

    • Be quick!

    • Get it, make your point, and get out. Your speech will be better for it.

    • Brevity requires proper planning, focus, and most importantly REVISION!

Scope audience analysis
Scope/Audience Analysis

  • High school and college students will often use the “shot gun approach” with respect to anecdotal evidence

    • Like remember that time, freshman year. . .

    • OMG, and like, sophomore year on the bus . . .

    • And all those crazy Mr. Smith days . . .

      • If you weren’t on the bus, didn’t have Mr. Smith, YOU DON’T CARE, like, AT ALL

Scope audience analysis1
Scope/Audience Analysis

  • You’re speaking to a varied audience here; make sure that you appeal to every member

    • Teachers

    • Parents

    • Classmates

    • Grandparents

    • Yourself

      • This often means striking a balance between building connections with your audience while speaking through/about personal experience


  • Back to the “shot gun approach” to anecdotes

  • Don’t just throw out all the good times you had in school

    • These are meaningless essentially. Centered around a topic (high school), with no theme, no scope, etc

  • Instead, choose moments (1-3 at MOST) carefully

    • Make sure they appeal to your WHOLE audience

      • This is generally achieved by advancing/developing your theme

      • AGAIN, develop theme through topic (anecdotes)

  • Bookends

    • Reference your introduction in your conclusion

      • A properly developed and delivered theme will usually make it easy to bookend your speech

      • Example: Sam’s Tribute Speech

        • Nelson Mandela as “The Troublemaker”

          • Effective use of bookends


    • Speak SLOWLY

    • Use/display emotion properly

    • Connect with audience (all members)

    • Be confident

      • Pauses

      • No “fillers”

      • Don’t apologize or break cadence for mistakes, move on

    • Be Humble

      • “Taking credit like he did it by himself, too much pride to realize that he really had help”

      • You are the speaker, but it isn’t about you! You are SERVING your class and your audience with speech


    • Evaluate the follow speeches using the peer evaluation worksheets

    • Also consider

      • Theme

      • Brevity

      • Specificity and Scope

        • Address these areas on the back of your sheet

    Sample graduation speeches

    Sample Graduation Speeches

    Creative/atypical graduation speech

    College Graduation Speech

    Humorous High School Speech

    Inspirational Graduation Speech

    My Wicked Good Graduation Speech