About this time last year, I stopped over at my sister's house. She informed me that my niece, the president of her high school class, was in her bedroom crying. I asked why and my sister sighed and said, "I tried to help her with her graduation
speech." I went to my niece's room and helped her bang out an awesome speech to wow the crowd. (Sometimes kids are more willing to accept help from someone who isn't
Though I think the speech my niece and I crafted was great, we could have used some of these tips on writing a memorable graduation speech
. Your first step is to avoid the cliches. We've all heard the graduation speeches about how students are "prepared for their futures" and so forth. Instead of the same old, same old, try some of the tips that I'll list after the break.
- Tell stories. Tell funny or touching stories about classmates or teachers. Be sure not to limit stories to your immediate group of friends -- you're speaking to a broad audience and your words should be equally meaningful to everyone.
- Talk about meaningful events. Bring up dances, charity events, plays, sporting events -- anything that might spark good memories of your shared school days.
- Be positive. Don't speak poorly of anyone. Even if you just mean it as a joke, it could really fall flat. Your speech is meant to be uplifting.
- Be careful with humor. If you're a naturally funny person, you'll probably be able to pull off jokes. But make sure any jokes are proper. Also, avoid inside jokes -- even if your classmates will all get your humor the audience isn't likely to catch on.
- Give advice sparingly. If you're part of the graduating class you probably don't have much advice to give.
- Thank the parents and teachers. Really. It will be appreciated.
- Feel free to reference pop culture or appropriate songs. Using current references (not obscure references, though) is a good way to draw everyone in.
- Include a befitting quote. Bartleby.com is just one website with a handy quote search.
Finally, practice, practice, practice. Ask friends and family to listen to your speech and give advice. You don't want to memorize every word -- just have notes and speak in a comfortable, conversational manner. Good luck!