40+ Graduation Speech Ideas and Tips

Graduations and commencements ceremonies mark major transitional moments in your life. They celebrate all the hard work you put into your education and achievements, and look forward to the future. Through the years of school, you’ve made new friends, developed new skills, and discovered new things about yourself. And it can be extremely difficult to summarize these experiences into a single graduation speech. How do you explain how much the experience meant to you? How do you properly send off all your incredible peers? Don’t worry– we’re here to help you craft that perfect graduation speech. When you’re ready to put pen the paper, look to our graduation speech ideas below.

Jump to:

The Process On Writing A Graduation Speech

Even if you love to write, or have a lot you want to say–writer’s block is a common obstacle when it comes to speech writing. The best way to beat it? Just start writing. Know that your first draft (or the ten or twenty after that) doesn’t have to be perfect, or even very good. Just start writing all your thoughts down and eventually your speech will start to take shape. For specific guidance on speech writing, look to the steps below.

male valedictorian speaking at graduation

How To Start A Graduation Speech

Ready to start writing? Do your best to follow the guidelines below:

  1. Find all the inspiration you can. Search for and save your favorite graduation speeches, look for the perfect quotes, and try to determine the key themes to what inspires you.
  2. Pick a theme. Once you’ve found all your inspiration sources and come up with a general idea of what you want to talk about, make a list of key themes. Circle the one most important to you.
  3. Write down your favorite quotes and messages, and start planning where in your speech you want them to appear.
  4. Start off by introducing yourself. Not sure what to say? Use the graduation speech introduction examples below.

Graduation Speech Introductions Examples

  • “Thank you [person who introduced you]. And thank you to the students, teachers, parents, and staff who made these four years everything that they were.”
  • “It’s my honor today to deliver the commencement address for this incredible student body.”
  • “It is my pleasure to welcome students, families, and faculty to graduation day at [school’s name]. Every one of you have made an impact on the graduates who sit here today.”
  • “I stand here before you, looking back on four years of legacy we’ve all made together.”

How To Write A Graduation Speech

Once you’ve reached the body of your speech, consider keeping the tips below in mind:

  1. Take time to write out things you want to cover. Don’t edit yet, just write. Try to stay as undistracted as possible while doing this step.
  2. Take stock of your key messages and favorite phrases. Save these. Consider highlighting them to keep track.
  3. When in doubt, tell a story. Talk about your personal experiences and relate them to the whole class.
  4. Check out our graduation messages and wishes for special messages you might want to include.
  5. Once you’ve exhausted everything you want to say, take a break. Don’t edit until at least 24 hours later.
  6. Cut down everything that you don’t absolutely love. As painful as it might be to cut down your work, it’ll pay off in the long run.
  7. Connect the dots, but stay concise and to the point. Keep it simple.
  8. Repetition of key points can help your peers remember more of your speech.

How To End A Graduation Speech

Once you’re ready to end your speech, use these guidelines to find a memorable ending.

  1. End with something memorable that ties it all together. This may be a quotes, repetition of your central message, or just a fun send off.
  2. Start to edit. Cut it down. Then cut it down again.
  3. If appropriate, consider closing with one of these graduation bible verses.
  4. Have someone edit your speech for you. A fresh pair of eyes makes a world of difference when it comes to editing.
  5. Practice, practice, practice. Even if you have great presentation skills, only practice makes perfect!

Grad makes a speech in her graduation ceremony.

Graduation Speech Themes

Looking for the perfect graduation speech theme to tie it all together? Then check out our favorite funny, creative, and general themes for graduation speeches below:

Funny Graduation Speech Ideas

  • Touch on Current (School) Events: A lot can happen in four years. Take the opportunity to reflect on past school happenings like beating your rival school, an accidental mishap in one of the science labs, or a senior prank. The students will surely love it.
  • Turn Humility to Wisdom: Mistakes turn into lessons learned, and humility can help you turn funny and embarrassing stories into wisdom for the ages. Share them with your peers.
  • Insta-Worthy: Find inspiration for our funny graduation captions to use for your graduation speech.
  • Make it a Classic: Use the classic, hilarious quotes from our graduation quotes and sayings resource to keep your speech lighthearted and fun.

Creative Graduation Speech Ideas

  • Step Out of Tradition: Step away from the traditional grad speech format. Try something like spoken word poetry, or using unique patterns and metaphors in your speech.
  • Tell a Unique Story: We’re always ready to listen to new and interesting stories. What makes your experience so unique? What lesson has it taught you?
  • Children’s Book Inspired: Use the classic children’s book quotes we’ve found for you to inspire a nostalgia filled grad speech.
  • A Class Anthem: Use lyrics from a special graduation song to inspire a full speech, and connect back to the song for a theme your peers will love.

Class President Graduation Speech Ideas

  • Never Give Up: Inspire your class to always keep striving for their goals by utilizing our words of encouragement.
  • A Thankful Class: Take the chance of delivering the graduation speech to thank everyone who helped make it happen. Feel free to browse our gratitude quotes and appreciation quotes for help.
  • Inspire Them Until the End: Center your commencement speech around a key inspirational idea or message. Visit our resource on inspirational quotes about life for help finding one.

Graduate Gives Speech In Auditorium

Commencement Speech Ideas and Tips

Want a few final tips and tricks for making your graduation speech extra special? We’ve got you covered. Look to our advice below:

High School Graduation Speech Ideas

  1. Look to the future. Talk about the multitude of opportunities and possibilities your class has.
  2. Thank your teachers and parents. You can never thank the adults in your life enough for supporting and helping you all these years.
  3. Recall class memories. Nostalgia is a powerful tool that when used well can make a speech more memorable.
  4. Try not to rely on pop culture references. Pop culture fads come and go, and using them in your speech might mean it won’t age very well.
  5. Ask yourself: what makes this class unique? If you have an answer, feel free to share it.
  6. Is there anything you want to say but can’t fit it into your speech? If so, you may know exactly what to write in your yearbook for friends and classmates.

8th Grade Graduation Speech Ideas

  1. Focus on the positive. Even if not everything was always perfect in your school experience, it’s important to focus on the positive during a graduation speech.
  2. Keep it short and sweet. Long speeches typically mean not everyone will be able to pay attention. Keep it short and to the point.
  3. Remember to be inclusive. Talk about things that all of your peers can relate to, not just individual groups.

Elementary Graduation Speech Ideas

  1. Keep it short and simple.
  2. Use a lighthearted tone- Don’t try to make it too sentimental. Keeping the kids happy means the ceremony will go smoother.
  3. Give examples and short stories from the year. Elementary students usually connect to stories well and this will help keep their attention.
  4. Remember kids love to laugh. A joke here and there might be the perfect touch.
  5. If you’re helping a student write a speech, walk them through it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but their parents are sure to love it.

female valedictorian giving speechat convocation

Resources Related to Graduation Speech Ideas

If you liked this resource on graduation speech ideas and you’re looking for similar content, make sure to check out our related graduation resources.