Graduation Speeches

Great Oratory

Sometimes we don’t think of graduation speeches as great oratory.

But some of the most notable speeches in the world have been given at graduation.

Grad speeches by presidents, generals and Nobel Prize winners have created words recorded forever in history.

But great speeches are not just given by famous people.

Some of the most inspirational and notable speeches are written and delivered by class Valedictorians and even people, like a high school speaker, who just have something to say and know how to say it.

And the online experiment in building collective wisdom from hundreds of undergraduate commencement addresses. Features an extensive archive of graduation speeches by world leaders, celebrities, and educators, as well as notes on the major themes from the speeches.

And let's not forget Oprah Winfrey's Wellesly College commencement address.

After all, isn't that great oratory in it's simplest terms?

Ancient Rhetoric

Grad speeches are expected to be persuasive and motivating. There is nothing more boring than sitting through a tedious speech on one of the most exciting days of your life.

Rhetoric dates back to the 5th century and was used to persuade landowners to not repossess property. The purpose of rhetoric has not changed in almost 2,000 years.

Speeches are meant to persuade graduates to fulfill their destiny. It doesn’t even matter the age of the group being addressed.

An elementary school grad speech still is meant to motivate students to go on and do their best. Graduation speeches accomplish the following.

  • Motivate the class and audience to achieve potential
  • Offer words for posterity
  • Create memories for the class to call upon through the years
  • Persuade the audience to strive for their dreams
  • Create quotes that can be remembered and used to inspire
  • Mark an event as special and unique


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    AND MORE!

    Graduation talks can be fraught with lots of problems if not carefully chosen and prepared.

    Not Just A Figure of Speech

    Graduation talks remembered by a class have certain qualities that make them especially memorable.

  • Relevance to the class
  • Inspiring topic
  • Competent speaker
  • Good writing


  • Speeches are an art form. A class wants their graduation speech to be something they look forward to hearing.

    Today there are many sources of speeches for the class valedictorian to the professional speaker to choose among.

    Free Speech

    Often, high schools and especially universities hire celebrities as the guest speakers. There are many speaker bureau sites on the internet to assist in finding and booking a speaker.

    There are also sites that list famous people who earn speaker fees that you can contact independently.

    The key to obtaining a guest speaker is to plan ahead. Quality speakers are usually booked many months in advance.

    They prepare speeches based on basic information they are given about the class.

    Unlike some institutions who can afford guest speakers, many classes use their own class members as the honored speaker. This adds a very special quality to the program.

    Who best to motivate a class except for one of its own? But even if you have something motivational to say, knowing how to present it to a large class may require assistance.

    Graduation talks are available on line. They can help the speaker with the following.

  • Choosing a theme if one has not been provided yet
  • Fitting the speech theme with the graduation theme
  • Finding relevant quotes
  • Finding a speech that fits the class level, whether it is elementary, high school or college
  • Locating graduation speeches focusing on special class topics such as nursing, engineering or armed forces


  • Using proven speeches can save time and uncertainty on graduation day. Free speech is a right of freedom.

    Graduation speeches are an excellent opportunity to exercise that right.

    If your planning concerns high school, it's often best to plan ahead before high school graduation theme celebrations get going.

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