It’s an incredible honor to be chosen to speak to your classmates at your graduation ceremony. Still, we know writing a graduation speech can be nerve-wracking. That’s why we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you create a speech that will not only touch, entertain and inspire your entire graduation community but also celebrate high school memories and traditions.

STEP 1: Choose your theme

Whether you decide to relive high school memories, offer advice to your classmates, reflect on the future, or give thanks to those who have helped you, it can be tough to decide on the right theme for your speech. That’s why we’ve reviewed hundreds of the best student speeches to help you get started.

You can stick to one theme or combine several. You can also add quotations from famous people and writers to support your message. Whichever option you choose when you are writing a graduation speech, be sure to coordinate with your fellow presenters to guarantee that each of you is offering a unique perspective.

Here are some of the most powerful themes from successful graduation speeches:

  • Paths through life
  • Overcoming obstacles
  • Classmates as individuals
  • Friends and friendship
  • Looking back to the early years
  • Memories of high school
  • Thanks
  • Advice
  • Making a Difference
  • Congratulations 

Step 2: Edit

After you have written a draft, ask a teacher, friend or family member to give you feedback about what to keep and what to cut. Remember to be sensitive that there are many different paths after graduation. Some graduates may attend college. Others may not. Also be aware of how different cultures and heritages within your student body view graduation.

This step is also your chance to take out any inappropriate content, including:

  • Insults to individuals or groups
  • Racial or ethnic jokes
  • Sexual innuendos
  • False information
  • Anything that you are worried about including. If it makes you hesitate, delete it.

Step 4: Rehearse

Rehearse frequently and out loud so that you internalize your message. Understand why you are speaking the words you have chosen and repeat them in rehearsal until you feel the essence of your message in your gut.

If you go blank during your speech, don’t panic. Instead, focus your eyes on one person in the audience, which will make it look as though you are being forceful and dramatic. Pause for about four seconds before focusing on someone else. Repeat until you have collected your thoughts.