CHAMPION STRATEGIES – PUBLIC SPEAKING WORKSHOP – June 3, 2021
GOOD AFTERNOON EVERYBODY…
We won’t sugar coat it. Writing a speech is tough. It’s why people get paid big bucks to do this as ghostwriters for others. It’s why great lines from great speeches get passed down from one generation to the next.
But relax. You’re not the President of the United States addressing the nation trying to keep things calm after alien spacecraft have just landed on the White House front lawn.
Odds are, instead, you’re one of two things. You’re either the valedictorian (congrats by the way) or you’re the person who submitted their name and speech idea to the graduation committee and was selected to speak at graduation as well (so congrats to you, too.)
Now, about the speech. While it’s certainly up to you what you can say, we just thought that we’d pass on a few tips on how to not make your speech the kind that doesn’t have lines getting passed from one generation to the next – because of how awful it was.
So, with that said here are our top 10 tips for writing a graduation speech. And, some bonus tips for giving a virtual graduation speech.
1: Start out by thanking someone.
The fact is you probably didn’t make it through high school all by yourself. Very few people, if any, do anything without a lot of help from someone else. So, show a little humility.
It’s always good to recognize parents, teachers and friends. But what might be nice to do instead is to publicly thank a specific person. One person who helped you, who made a difference and believed in you. Maybe it’s a coach, a counselor, a teacher or your dad. Whoever. Thank them in front of everybody. And then encourage everyone else to find someone who was instrumental in helping them make it to graduation and tell them to thank them as well.
2: Don’t make it all about you.
If you’re the valedictorian, then once again, congratulations. You did well. But nobody really just wants to hear about why you made it to the podium and they didn’t. That’s not to say you can’t infuse personal observations in your speech, just don’t turn this into a “My life in high school” speech.
Matter a fact, instead of just crafting your speech in the cold confines of your bedroom, why not instead go out and talk to your classmates. Find out what they’re interested in. What has inspired them and what they’ll remember most. Your class’ graduation should be about all of the students, not just you. It’d be nice if your speech recognized all their collective memories.
3: Google it.
That’s what it’s there for. Looking up famous speeches online is a great way to get inspiration. Whether it’s a YouTube video of comedian Seth MacFarlane’s commencement speech at Harvard (hilarious!) Or reading Winston Churchill’s famous “We shall never surrender” speech (goosebumps!) Seeing how other people have done things well in the past is a good point of reference for how you should be doing it today.
4: Keep it short and sweet.
Yes, your speech is important, or you wouldn’t have been asked to give it. But don’t go overboard. People aren’t there to see you drone on and on. They’re there to either celebrate their own accomplishments or the accomplishments of family and close friends. You don’t want people to be checking their watches during your speech or hoping you’ll hurry things up.
Therefore, don’t ramble on forever. Your speech should be no more than 10 minutes unless you’ve been given instructions otherwise. Think about how long do you usually sit still for a YouTube video? There’s a reason the more popular ones aren’t very long. Learn from that.