How to Write a Graduation Speech

Everything I learned about what it takes to produce a memorable speech in one place! While lighthearted, this article contains some of the best well researched advice there is on content, structure, possible themes, and delivery tips to make your commencement speech a memorable one.


2019 Commencement Graduation Speakers List. Who is Speaking Where?

Every day new graduation speaker announcements are trickling in from colleges and universities around the country. While the list for 2019 is growing you can also take a look at the 2018 commencement speakers list.Join me in the quest for the best graduation speeches of 2019!

See the lists of graduation speakers by year:
2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013


Inspirational Graduation Quotes Images

graduation speechTen years into collecting commencement speeches with inspirational words I am still going strong. There are so many wonderful speeches worth reading, now 200 of them in the Graduation Wisdom collection. Yet this truly just a fraction of the thousands of speeches delivered in the last decades. Therefore, from this perspective, every graduation speech well written is a gem. Now, some of the greatest graduation quotes are on images so you can pin, share, print, and put them on your graduate's virtual or analog wall.

See the new collection of graduation quotes images.


Quotes for Graduation

quotes for graduation 2017

A selection of the most inspirational quotations and illustrations to share with your graduates, from kindergarten to high school, college and universities. They are fun, they are short, they are quirky and totally memorable. Have a look at this growing list of the great quotes for graduation, illustrated for the commencement season.


Graduation Quotes

graduation speechgradatuion-quotes It doesn't matter that your dream came true if you spent your whole life sleeping.


In need of writing a witty message on the graduation card? Search no more! This unique collection of inspirational graduation quotes is ready for you.

best graduation quotes


Remarkable Graduation Speech by Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Ron Suskind | Lewis & Clark College

Once in a while, a graduation speech comes along to inspire not just the young graduates but all those young at heart. Journalist and author Ron Suskind's commencement speech this May at Lewis & Clark College has done just that, conveying a powerful message through three moving stories. Top that with some light jokes and a truly outstanding delivery (no notes, moves around the podium, funny gestures) and you know you stumbled over one unforgettable graduation speech. No wonder the graduates gave him a standing ovation!


10th Anniversary - Graduation Speech by Kudzu Comic Strip Author

Timeless advice in this inspirational and thoughtful commencement address at Durham Academy. Doug Marlettette's graduation quotes and insights for the graduates have the same relevance today as they had ten years ago. Read the full commencement speech.

graduation quotes by doug marlette


Best Graduation Quotes

Nuggets of advice and inspiration for young graduates and all those young at heart. What did we learn this year? Read on for great wisdom from last season's best commencement addresses.


Graduation Speeches Sketchnotes

graduation quotes and commencement speeches sketchnotes
I am a big fan of sketchnotes and I am just getting started. I hope that soon I will be adding more. This of course assumes I'll have the time to make them. One day, someone must make it possible to transform our infinite ability to worry into an infinite time resource. Until then, I 'steal' time from where I can. Maybe skipping the Saturday night movie, like I do today?!


The Most Popular Commencement Address

Soon after adding this transcript to the site it quickly went to the top and it is now the most popular speech on this site. Can you guess? I'll give you a hint, it's not Steve Job (he comes in close second). You might find it a surprise but it turns out, the man has good advice. Give it a try, watch or read the 6 rules of success.


The Funniest Graduation Speeches

graduation speechReady for some good laughs? Search no more. In the past ten years some thousands of commencement speeches have been given. Of these however only a few were deemed hilarious. We have the list of speeches right here. The laughs are guaranteed. Enjoy our mini-collection of the funniest graduation speeches and funny graduation quotes.


Looking for Ideas?

This list is a good place to pick and choose the most fitting and inspirational themes. Do not forget to add personal stories or anectodes around them to make the message stick and be more powerful. Lastly, don't forget to apply them in real life. My favorite one is:

RULE # 5
Don't wait to be invited. Create opportunities and get in the game.


Giving a Graduation Speech?

Congratulations! While you prepare your speech, search for inspiration in our collection of the best commencement speeches. And don't be scared; there is great opportunity awaiting for you. 2013's top commencement speaker George Saunders and 2012's top two commencement speakers, Neil Gaiman and David McCullough Jr., all landed book deals following their outstanding commencement addresses. Good luck!


Funny Graduation Quotes

funny graduation quotes
Sometimes, a funny quote is the most memorable and sure way to make an impression on the graduates. Use these funny and notable quotes on graduation cards or for your Facebook status.


Top Ten

View the list of top ten commencement speeches as featured in the USA TODAY's article by Mary Beth Marklein. Share them with your family, friends, and please send me your favorites.


Best Speeches: Arts

There is little surprise that writers do give some of the finest commencement speeches ever. What is surprising is that despite their talents, the number of writers asked to speak at commencement exercises seems so much smaller than say that of politicians. I am very happy with this small but growing collection of outstanding advice by authors and writers.


Advice and Lessons Learned

graduation quotes and advice


Best Speeches: Sports

A few lucky graduates get to hear speeches from coaches or talented athletes. Coaches seem to always have good advice to share with others. In this section we selected the best speeches we could find from the sports arena.


Sample Graduation Speeches

Meryl Streep, Academy Award Winning Acctress
Julianna Margulies, Academy Award Winning Acctress
Anthony Corvino, Undergraduate Student
Conan O'Brien, TV Show host
David Brooks, NYT columnist and author
Denzel Washington, Actor
Arianna Huffington, Author and syndicated columnist
Meredith Vieira, journalist and TV show host
Jonathan Youshaei, highschool graduate speaker
Ellen DeGeneres, comedian
Marissa Mayers, CEO at Yahoo Inc.


Lost Commencement Speeches

graduation speechOne such speech, among countless other worth preserving, is the commencement speech by a favorite author of mine, Joan Didion, at University of California in 1975. Luckily, one of the simply most breathtaking advice from her speech was made available in a NYT article.


quote I'm not telling you to make the world better,
because I don't think that progress is necessarily part of the package.

I'm just telling you to live in it.
Not just to endure it,
not just to suffer it,
not just to pass through it,
but to live in it.

To look at it.
To try to get the picture.
To live recklessly.
To take chances.
To make your own work and take pride in it.
To seize the moment.


And if you ask me why you should bother to do that, I could tell you that the grave's a fine and private place, but
none I think do there embrace.
Nor do they sing there,
or write,
or argue,
or see the tidal bore on the Amazon,
or touch their children.


And that's what there is to do and
get it while you can and
good luck at it.


Read more Commencement Speeches by Authors


From the Archive

graduation speeches archive imagination illustration The commencement speeches archive has now reached almost 150 speeches. Back when I started this site in 2006 I used to know every speech in depth. As the years went by and more platitude-free and advice-bounty commencement addresses surfaced it's becoming harder to remember all these speeches I curate here and easy to forget some the most wonderful nuggets of wisdom they have. In this section, I will highlight a past commencement speech that I found smart and funny and some of its most memorable quotes. As always, each speech is worth reading in its entirety so if you have five minutes click on the link and read the entire transcript from actor Alan Alda given back in, yes, 1980! You will not believe how much of this advice holds true even today. That is why these speeches deserve to be remembered, to be preserved and to be shared.

quote As I get older, the only thing that speeds up is time.

quote Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won't come in.

quote The soup of civilized life is a nourishing stew but it doesn't keep bubbling on its own. Put something back in the pot as you leave for the people in line behind you.

quote You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.


Recently Added Speeches

John Green, Best-selling Author
Kenneth Kosik, Professor of Neuroscience
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Playwright and Composer
Steven Spielberg, Movie Director
Sheryl Sandberg, Businesswoman and Author
Russell Wilson, NFL Quarterback

Jason Kilar, Founding CEO of Hulu
David Carr, NYT Columnist and Author
Paul Hamer, Author and English Professor
Sarah Heidt, Professor of English

Maira Kalman, Artist and Illustrator
Sheryl Sandberg, Technology Executive and Author
Joyce DiDonata, Mezzo-soprano
Alexis Ohanian, Reddit Co-founder

Mindy Kaling, Comedian and Author


quote There’s few things that get you over your own crap more than working hard.




Top 10 Speeches
Best Speeches by Year
Graduation Advice
Speech Writing Help
Archive: All Speeches


Best Quotes
Top 15 Themes
Funny Quotes
Graduation Sketchnotes

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