10 Tips to Creating a Magical Valedictorian Speech
So, you're the class valedictorian. That's amazing. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.
But now isn't the time to sit and relax. You need to write a valedictorian speech to give at your commencement exercises. And it needs to be reflective of your high school or college career.
Don't stress, though. You got through four years and earned the highest grades in your class. Clearly, you know a thing or two about writing and delivering a good speech.
In case you can't call to mind a great speech off the top of your head, we've got a few tips for you.
Read on for some tricks and tips that will make your speech memorable.
1. Whatever You Do, Do Not Talk About Webster's Dictionary
Have you ever been to a valedictory speech where the valedictorian says a word like "honor" or "memory" or even "valedictorian" and then talks about how Webster's dictionary defines it?
It's such a trope, it's made its way into popular culture.
That means seriously, don't use it. Talk about anything else other than how Webster's dictionary defines certain words central to your speech.
Generally, you want to avoid graduation speech cliches and make your speech a certified original.
2. Talk About What You've Learned in Your Valedictorian Speech
We're willing to be that many of your most important lessons weren't learned in the classroom despite your success in it.
Take some time to talk about the lessons you've learned amongst your friends, when you were in the school play, from your time on the soccer team or any other way you learned a lesson throughout your time in school.
3. Make a Few Jokes
Don't get up there and list memories that you had or talk about success in a dry form.
Inject a little humor in there. Make your fellow students laugh with a funny story about something that happened during your last four years together. We're willing to wager that at least one funny thing happened in biology class or one of your teachers is known for a hilarious quirk.
4. Inspire Your Fellow Students
Commencement isn't just about celebrating the fact that you finally earned your diploma.
It's also about looking forward to the future and all of the places life will take you after graduation. You want your fellow students to leave your speech feeling as though they've got the world by the tail and can do anything now that they're graduates.
5. Use Quotes
Don't use Webster's Dictionary to define words, but do use quotes to uplift your fellow graduates. Maybe even pick a quote out ahead of time to reflect on and craft your speech around it.
The quote doesn't have to be from someone famous or well-known, it just has to make your fellow graduates think and feel inspired by their words. It could even be a "famous" quote from one of your teachers or faculty members!
6. Keep It Short and Sweet
Remember, 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 specifically. They're there to celebrate their accomplishments or the accomplishments of family and close friends. You don't want people to be checking their watches during your speech or wanting you to hurry up.
Therefore, don't ramble on forever. Your speech should be no more than 10 minutes unless you're given other instructions.
7. Speak to Other Students
Don't just craft a valedictory speech in the cold confines of your room. Instead, speak to other students and find out what they're interested in, what has inspired them and what they'll remember most. Your graduation is about all of the students, not just you, and you'll want your speech to recognize their collective memories.
8. Make Your Most Important Point the Final Point
Your speech should be you leading up to the final point of the speech, which will be the most important part. This should be the line that people remember, and that people take away from your speech. You can end it with a quote, a memory, or words of wisdom to impart on your class, just as long as you end it with a punch.
9. Always Practice Your Speech Before Hand
Never give a speech without practicing it. As valedictorian, we trust you already know that, but we just want to make sure.
Try your speech out on a couple of fellow graduates and ask them what they think of it. You might even practice on your parents or some of your teachers. If there are parts of the speech they dislike, ask them to provide you with a few pointers so that you can make it better.
If you had a speech and debate teacher at school, he or she might be keen to help you practice your speech. Take advantage of that, as you won't always have that luxury in the "real world."
10. Thank People
Always thank people in your speech. You didn't become the valedictorian on your own. And your fellow graduates didn't get to the stage on their own either.
Acknowledge teachers, parents, friends, and siblings who contributed to not only your success but the success of fellow graduates. You may even want to ask the students to give their families and teachers a round of applause to show how much they respect them.
Writing the Perfect Valedictory Speech
A valedictorian speech shouldn't be overwhelming or daunting. Instead, think of it as a way to connect with your graduating class one last time before you all go your separate ways. And, if you're planning a career where you will be public speaking, think of it as a great way to practice.
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