How to Start a Commencement Speech
Start Your Commencement Speech Right
To President (name) and the (college/university) board, and to the distinguished members of the faculty: it is an honor to be here at (college/university) along with my fellow honorees, the plethora of distinguished and diverse alumni, special guests, family members, and friends who are gathered here today. Most of all, it is an honor to be here with you all: the class of (year)
Wait for applause
(College/University) looks especially lovely on a day like today, don’t you think? The big (oak/pine) tree next to the main (science/arts) building is stunning, the (city/town/rural center) is gorgeous, and I’ve already gotten a cup of coffee at (Starbucks/local coffee consortium), where everyone was so friendly and kind. In fact, they were so friendly and kind that I could barely get a word in while (local college town chatterbox) talked my ear off about how great the class of (year) is!
Wait for laughter
Some of you may not know, but I actually met your president in (year) when he and I were (traveling/speaking/studying) in (name of exotic locale). He was still such a (boisterous/subtle/interesting/gregarious/impassioned) man with a lot of ideas even then, so it’s so heartening to see that he’s continuing to pursue such worthy endeavors.
Let me start off by saying that I’m not going to get up here and lecture you on “making a difference” or “making change” or anything you’ve heard already. No. Your generation has heard it all – what with all the (internet/cell phones/iPods), you can barely do anything without it being leaked to millions of people! No, my speech is going to be about (some other way of telling them your speech will be about making change and making a difference.)
For additional help, you can study our Top 10 Outrageous Commencement Addresses (in some cases these are helpful in identifying things to AVOID doing).