It's an honor to give a graduation speech, so you want it to be effective, free from clichés and broad messages. An effective graduation speech should show your appreciation and inspire listeners. This is your chance to speak to peers, teachers and parents and for your inspiring words to be remembered for a lifetime. You will only have one chance to do this so write an effective graduation speech before it's too late.
Start with an effective anecdote. Tell a story that really impacted your life and helped you get to where you are now. Try to tell a story that would include members of the school.
Mention an important event or accomplishment relating to the school. For instance, you can mention how the school successfully raised $10,000 for fallen soldiers, the football team finally won after losing for three years or how someone important died.
Keep it brief. You are not the only one who's going to give a speech. To write an effective graduation speech, you have to consider the time constraints and the audience's attention span. For instance, at a school of 200 you would have a lot more time to talk than at a school of 4000 students. Also, the length of your speech depends on your rank. To be safe, follow these general guidelines: students have 2 to 5 minutes, the valedictorian has 5 to 10 minutes, a teacher or guest has 10 to 15 minutes and the principal has 10 to 20 minutes.
Do not focus on yourself. This is worse than writing clichés. Do not go on how because of your own efforts you got to where you are today (even if this is true, people may think you are bragging). The focus of an effective graduation speech is the students, your friends, family, teachers, the school and everybody who helped you.
Include quotes, clichés and advice sparingly. An effective graduation speech is not a collection of other people's sayings but your own original words. Don't let someone else write it for you.
Avoid inside jokes, controversial topics and bad mouthing anybody. At best, people will be bored because they have no idea who or what you are talking about, at worst, they will be incredibly offended.
Include things that matter to your school. For instance, if it's a private music school, you can mention how important music is for future generations.
Remember to thank the people who really helped you like parents, teachers, mentors, coaches and principals. Ask the audience to give a round of applause for your parents. You should try doing this at the end or beginning.
Read the speech out loud many times. You cannot write an effective graduation speech, without reading it out loud at least three times. By reading it out loud you will notice grammar errors, awkward phrasing, timing, hard words to pronounce and other factors you would overlook reading mentally.
Have friends proofread it and hear you read it out loud. They may notice something you miss, comment on your performance and give you practice giving a speech.
Relax. Get a good night sleep, eat well and don't drink too much before giving your speech. You don't want to write an effective graduation speech but struggle to give it because you are starving, sleepy or have to go to the bathroom.